- Finishing Touch Freedom. Marketer: IdeaVillage. Pitch: "Revolutionary new way to remove hair" features a "360-degree rotating head." Comments: An apparent 'fast fail.' Watch the spot on YouTube, and you'll think you're watching one of those brand commercials that comes on before you can watch the actual video. It's a Gillette-quality spot for a Venus-quality product. No wonder it didn't work on DRTV! [ss]
- Brushbie. Pitch: "Sanitize, reshape and dry your expensive makeup brushes." Comments: I can't be sure, but this strikes me as a contrived problem. Perhaps that's why the spot takes almost 30 seconds to explain it. [ss]
- Bye Bye Blisters. Pitch: "Protects your heels from rubbing, slipping and nasty blisters." Comments: This is too close to the worst category in DRTV -- insoles -- to be successful. Also: A similar product called Shoebite Saver (No. 8 in this Weekly Round-Up) didn't go anywhere. [ss]
- Clever Crates. Pitch: "The smart new way to carry and store everything." Comments: For those who have always wanted to take the grocery basket home, this is their moment. Joking aside, the product isn't that bad, but the pitch is all over the place. It's hard to turn "everything" into a compelling reason to buy. [ss]
- (Peggie's) Eyeglass Charms. Pitch: "Transforms your child's glasses into a cool fashion accessory they'll love to wear." Comments: A segment of a segment of a segment. Add the unpredictable fashion element, and it would be hard to pick a worse item for DRTV. Prediction: CPO with a comma. (HT: Heather R.) [ss]
- Fruiti Freeze. Pitch: "100% natural frozen treats in seconds." Marketer: Telebrands. Comments: This one was $40, so the 'fast fail' doesn't surprise me. [ss]
- Hot Shots. Marketer: Allstar. Pitch: "The latest craze in restaurant desserts now has a place at your table." Comments: Another apparent 'fast fail.' [ss]
- Magic Mirror. Producer: Sullivan Productions. Pitch: "Makes steam disappear like magic." Comments: Neat product, good commercial -- but the problem solved is low on the scale. [ss]
- Pet Bowl Go-Round. Pitch: "Innovative food bowl lets your dog run and play without getting tangled up." Comments: A weak problem for a segment of a segment. [ss]
- Snappy Cami. Pitch: "Looks like a camisole and easily snaps to your bra." Comments: Ontel's Cami Secret peaked in 2011 (No. 4 on the JW Annual that year) and was still going strong in 2012. It's too soon to bring the concept back -- not that this 'amateur hour' project had a real chance. [ss]
- Storytime Pets. Marketer: Emson. Pitch: "Fun new animals that read to you." Comments: Plush toy No. 4,768. [ss]
- Win Cleaner. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "The one-click PC cleaner." Comments: This is a new partner and new creative for an item I reviewed before (see No. 12 in this Weekly Round-Up). [ss]
May 30, 2014
Posted by Jordan Pine at 10:21 PM
In the upcoming June issue, I write about the following:
- A near triple duel involving Telebrands' Socket Dock
- Ontel's Easy Eggwich
- Another Telebrands' item: The Nerd Atomic Clock
Check out that upcoming issue to see what I have to say about these projects.
Posted by Jordan Pine at 9:15 PM
May 23, 2014
Description: A butter cutter/dispenser
Main Pitch: "The fast, easy and safe way to cut your butter every day"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed
In 2001 and 2002, Ontel made it onto the charts with a product similar to this one called Butter Butler (still here on Amazon). It was No. 81 on the 2001 JW Annual and No. 92 on the 2002 JW Annual. To me, those rankings don't qualify it as 'Old Gold,' but that history is certainly a positive sign for this project.
The problem: I can't for the life of me figure out why that product had any success, and I have similar trouble with this item. Before the invention of spreadable butter, this sort of product would have made a lot more sense. But in this century, with all the forms and types of butter we have at our disposal, there just doesn't seem to be a valid need here.
Aspects of this product are certainly fun (the click) and noteworthy (perfect portions, no crumbs in the butter), but it typically takes a strong problem/solution to get a DR campaign off the ground. That's notably absent here.
Posted by Jordan Pine at 10:12 PM
Description: Light-up spinning toy
Main Pitch: "Combines LED lights with the ancient art of Poi"
Main Offer: $19.99 for a set with instructional DVD
Bonus: Spin Tails, carrying pack (free)
Prediction: On the fence
My first thought when watching this commercial was: What the heck is "Poi"? Turns out it's a type of performance art that originated in New Zealand, which raised another question for me: Why the heck would anyone care? This is a case of a DR marketer and/or producer over-thinking things a bit.
Go back and check out Fushigi. You'll notice they never once refer to the venerable art of "contact juggling" in the commercial even though that's what Fushigi was really all about. Instead, they simply talk about magic balls that defy gravity. That's how you do it -- and that's how this commercial does it after that minor, initial misstep. In fact, in some ways I think the demonstrations in this spot are better, cooler and look easier to do than the demonstrations in Fushigi. If that means anything, this one could be a hit.
On the other hand, Allstar's Myachi had some of the same things going for it (including a solid sales history at toy stores), and it went nowhere. My conclusion is that predicting success in this category is like predicting what the next Christmas toy craze will be.
Posted by Jordan Pine at 9:39 PM
Description: A compact towel
Main Pitch: "Looks like a mint but add water and ... [it] expands into a fully functional towel"
Main Offer: $10 for 50 plus a carrying case
Bonus: Double the order to 100 (just pay a separate fee)
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed
This product passes the "wow" test with flying colors. That is, it certainly has that "magic" demo we always want in our commercials. But once you get past the magic trick, wet wipes are a much better and more practical solution to the problems shown.
Posted by Jordan Pine at 9:10 PM
- Squishy Sand. Marketer: IdeaVillage. Producer: As Seen on Productions. Pitch: "The amazing new kind of sand that's made for playing indoors." Comments: Kid items are unpredictable, but this seems like every child's dream come true. [ss]
- Rox. Pitch: "The last-lasting ice that won't water down your drink." Comments: Strange commercial. The spot opens with "Americans love cold drinks ..." The way she says it and the way it's shot, it feels like a training video for foreign spies. Then the spot turns scientific with a discussion of surface area and spheres. This was definitely not written by a pro. In any case, this product is really for Scotch drinkers. Trying to make it solve a problem for soda drinkers was necessary, but it won't work. [ss]
- Fresh'n Crisp. Pitch: "Can dramatically save your produce longer and save you money." Comments: Attempt #432 to repeat the success of Debbie Meyer Green Bag. It has long been clear that the 2007-2008 Allstar hit was an outlier, not a category. Even this particular concept has been tried before: IdeaVillage called it Fridge Balls. [ss]
- Kidems Wheelsox. Pitch: "Don't cover your ears, cover their wheels." Comments: This is a very narrow problem for a segment of a segment. Prediction: Bomb. [ss]
- Magic Leash. Pitch: "Gain control of your dog, your pace and your peace of mind." Comments: I like this item and the pitch, but leashes have a terrible track record on DRTV. [ss]
- Sweda Power Port. Marketer: IdeaVillage. Pitch: "Charge all your portable electronics at the same time, in the same place." Comments: An apparent 'fast fail.' (Link goes to spot.) [ss]
- Velvet Burst. Pitch: "Infused velvet canvas ... magically releases colors when it comes in contact with water." Comments: I couldn't find a live site for this one (link goes to spot), but that might not mean anything. As for the item: Your guess is as good as mine. [ss]
- Window Garden. Marketer: Allstar. Pitch: "Grow an indoor garden all year long." Comments: Another apparent 'fast fail.' [ss]
- Wow Cakes. Marketer: Spark Innovators. Pitch: "Make delicious single-serve cakes in seconds." Comments: Dessert items are more miss than hit, and individual desserts haven't fared well at all. Examples include: My Lil' Piemaker, Cake Cone and Brownie Derby. [ss]
Posted by Jordan Pine at 8:57 PM
May 15, 2014
New Name: Mighty Putty Purple
Starring: Marc Gill
Current/Original Marketer: Top Dog (then Plymouth Direct)
Current/Original Producer: Hutton-Miller
Original Hit Year: 2008 (No. 23 on JW Annual, 31 on IMS)
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed
Although there's a lot to like about this attempt to bring back a mega-hit, I think this will ultimately be a case of 'been there, tried that' for the consumer. In other words the color change, which has no real reason for being, isn't enough of a point of difference to reignite this Phoenix. That the new creative features many of the demos from the original commercial won't help matters.
The new 'airplane pull' magic demo is certainly different and awesome in scale, but even that seems lacking somehow. The late, great Billy Mays used the original (green) Mighty Putty to pull a tractor trailer. One-upping the demo is fun and good PR, but the incremental impact on consumer response will likely be minimal. You've seen putty move one large object, you've seen it move them all.
This raises a larger point about the time required to resurrect a Phoenix, one that I've made before. When talking about the same item, or essentially the same item, five years is probably not enough time. The old rule of thumb was 7-10 years. In some cases, it may take even longer. Why? Mainly because the market needs enough time to forget the product existed and, as a result, treat it like something new and unique again. These days, with the long tail created by the Internet, that's becoming even more difficult.
There's also the Catch-22 of creating an item so memorable, it takes decades to fade from the national conscience -- which could very well be the case here.
Posted by Jordan Pine at 6:36 PM
Description: A solution for liver spots
Main Pitch: "Erases the look of dark spots and brightens your skin"
Main Offer: $12.99 for one bottle
Bonus: 2nd bottle (just pay a separate fee)
Prediction: On the fence
This is not an extension of Top Dog's Tag Away, although obvious attempts have been made to help consumers think that it is. Putting aside the ethics of that approach, I'm not sure it's a smart business decision.
Tag Away has poor reviews online (average 2 stars on Bed Bath's site and on Amazon, where 66% of reviews are only 1 star). Indeed, it seldom makes sense to brand-extend DR products -- whether your own or someone else's -- for this reason. Very few products live up to the promises our commercials make, so marketers end up wresting with a paradox. Either people know and recognize the brand, which has a negative association because of customer dissatisfaction, or they don't recognize the brand and the reason for using (or copying) the mark is rendered moot.
Of course, the situation here could be much more mundane. It's really hard to come up with good product names that clear a trademark search!
As for the product, my prediction is based on not knowing the size of this problem. I was surprised by how big of a problem skin tags were and accept that I could be surprised again here.
Posted by Jordan Pine at 12:09 PM
Description: A light-up toy
Main Pitch: "Adorable night light friends that turn bedtime into funtime"
Main Offer: $14.95 for one
Bonus: Lower price on additionals
Prediction: Likely to succeed
My prediction for this project is based on category history and the fact the execution is flawless at every level. Even the Website is awesome with its interactive "switch" feature. (Check it out for yourself: It's really cool!)
That said, there are valid concerns as well. This is not a plush toy, so it's not as huggable or lovable. Of course, that may also be a good thing since plush has been done to death! The toy is also not very interactive. It glows, and that's it. That didn't hinder Glow Pets, or Pillow Pets for that matter, but those toys were highly huggable/lovable.
What this boils down to is a SciMark-style experiment to discover what drives the success of products like this. Allstar and the H-M team have artfully isolated the 'fear of the dark' problem and presented a great solution. We'll see what happens ...
Posted by Jordan Pine at 11:55 AM
May 08, 2014
- efiltr. Starring: Christie Brinkley. Pitch: "Reduce exposure to radiation from your cell phone." Comments: Fear and prevention. Selling the invisible. These are not ingredients in the recipe for DRTV success -- no matter how passionate "Ambassador" Brinkley may be about this issue. Although I have my doubts, it's possible cell-phone radiation will end up being the next asbestos. It may even prove to be as devastating to the human body as smoking. But if history has taught us anything, no one is going to take action for decades and until well after it's too late for preventative measures. [ss]
- Genie Hose. Marketer: Tristar. Pitch: "The first multi-way pantyhose with a hidden seem that opens to expose your toes." Comments: Another addition to the line. The Web address redirected to the main site, so it may not have succeeded. (Link goes to spot.) [ss]
- Knot Out. Pitch: "The fast and easy way to remove stubborn jewelry knots in seconds." Comments: This is a solution for a specific and infrequent problem. As such, it is unlikely to generate the volume of response necessary to succeed. [ss]
- Magna Screen. Pitch: "A new type of screen door that lets the fresh air in while keeping ... annoying bugs out." Comments: Not only is this a copy of Allstar's Magic Mesh product, it's also a near word-for-word copy of my Magic Mesh commercial. (Use the links to watch and compare for yourself.) In any case, Magic Mesh is still going strong in its third year and currently all over retail. There is very little opportunity left -- even for bottom-feeders. [ss]
- Maxxable. Pitch: "A custom clip that allows you to finally hold onto your phone without fear of dropping it." Comments: Amateur hour. I'm not one of those purists who insists a commercial must get to the product in 8-12 seconds, but 30 seconds is definitely too long to wait! We get it: Dropping a phone is bad. [ss]
- My Cane. Marketer: Tristar. Pitch: "The portable, lightweight cane with built-in lights." Comments: This is the third attempt to do a value version of HurryCane. IdeaVillage was first with Clever Cane, but got beaten (again) by Telebrands. Their Trusty Cane is now all over retail. In DR, the third time is never the charm -- especially if Telebrands is well ahead of you! [ss]
- Pad Pivot. Pitch: "A lap and desk stand that perfects the [mobile device] viewing experience." Comments: There have been several attempts in this category (e.g. Stick Stand), none of them successful. In general, mobile-device accessories have a terrible track record on DRTV and should probably be avoided. The few positive case studies aren't strong enough to warrant further investment. [ss]
- Zippy Pillow. Pitch: "Changes shapes to give you soothing support where you need it most." Comments: This is a lesser Total Pillow at least two years too early to try bringing that concept back. In general, I also think pillows continue to be an over-mined category. [ss]
Posted by Jordan Pine at 7:46 PM
May 07, 2014
Description: A meatloaf pan
Main Pitch: "Make delicious stuffed meatloaf easily"
Main Offer: $12.99 for one with recipe guide
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Starring: Cathy Mitchell
Website: www.DumpLoaf.com (no longer live)
Perfect Meatloaf Plus
Main Pitch: "The new, non-stick way to bake and serve the perfect stuffed meatloaf"
Main Offer: $14.95 for one with recipe guide
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Starring: Chef Tony Notaro
Website: www.PerfectMeatloafPlus.com (no longer live)
Just as I prepared to write about another new duel, I checked these Web sites and found they are both no longer live. Guess this one was ultimately a 'dual' fast fail.
I suppose that's a good thing given the players involved and the ugliness of this competition. Allstar followed Telebrands by several weeks, but they apparently had the deal for the original QVC item. I'm not sure why Telebrands would choose to compete with someone they've partnered with as recently as last year, but this is just one of many mysteries I have encountered of late.
One thing is for sure: Allstar had the better name by far. "Dump Loaf" is now at the top of my list of worst DR names ever, easily beating the unintentional double-entendres on the list (e.g. Can Handler, Kitchen Quicky) and even surpassing the indelicate/juvenile ones (e.g. Sneak A Poo). I can't think of a less appetizing name choice for food -- especially food of this shape and color!
Posted by Jordan Pine at 5:40 PM
Description: A hovering soccer ball
Main Pitch: "A ball that is safe to play indoors"
Main Offer: $9.99 for one
My inner child wants one, and my outer parent likes that it (probably) won't destroy the house. What more can be said?
OK, I'll add this: When it comes to toys that hover, IdeaVillage seems to have a knack.
Posted by Jordan Pine at 5:35 PM
Description: A non-stick pan
Main Pitch: "Looks and cooks like a hot stone"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one, Forever Sharp Knife (just pay a separate fee)
Producer: The Schwartz Group
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed
What's the play? I haven't a clue. This one makes about as much sense to me as Grab-It!, which is to say it doesn't make sense to me. There is obviously something I am missing here. Maybe Telebrands believes the slight difference between the 'hot stone' pitch and the ceramic pitch has left a corner of the market untouched?
Posted by Jordan Pine at 5:34 PM
May 01, 2014
- Thigh Train. Starring: Jennifer Nicole Lee. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "Get thighs so sculpted, it's insane." Comments: I'm not sure if this is meant to complement an infomercial play or if this is a rare foray by Telebrands into high price point short form. The latter would be more interesting as Tristar has had that particular 'genre' to itself until now. [ss]
- Kitchen Mittles. Marketer: Tristar. Pitch: "The perfect oven mitt with the towel in the middle." Comments: An understandable 'fast fail.' (Link goes to spot.) [ss]
- Micro Knife. Pitch: "The ultra-light pocket knife that folds completely flat." Comments: I'm not a big fan of gimmicky items like this one because they target a segment of a segment and don't solve a real problem. Also, it remains to be seen if knives can even be sold on DRTV. The Rocky Mountain Knife (No. 10 in this Weekly Round-Up) will be an interesting case study. As for the commercial, I didn't get the comparison to a Swiss Army knife (this is no Wallet Ninja), and I thought the Crocodile Dundee joke at the end fell flat. [ss]
- Simoniz Paint Chip Repair. Pitch: "Easily fix chipped paint in minutes." Comments: Fast Brite gave the industry the idea that selling a solution to a specific problem area on a car was a viable DR strategy. However, since Fast Brite there hasn't been another hit like it. One is an outlier ... [ss]
- 1 Touch Light Transformer. Marketer: Tristar. Pitch: "Just one simple touch on any part of your lamp and the light turns out." Comments: This concept was tried by IdeaVillage in 2008 under the name Magic Touch (HT: AF). The commercial starred Joe Fowler. In any case, it appears to be another 'fast fail' from Tristar. [ss]
- EZ Walk. Pitch: "Insoles just for sandals." Comments: No insole for shoes has ever been successful on DRTV, so making the market smaller and seasonal is a really bad idea. [ss]
- Thera-X. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "Roll it on and the pain is gone." Comments: A 'fast fail' ... with the same slogan as an IdeaVillage 'fast fail' from 2012 (see No. 5 in this Weekly Round-Up). [ss]
- Living Bubble. Pitch: "The color-changing fishbowl you hang on your wall." Comments: Cool idea, but there's only room for one and Hampton is determined to be that one ... even if they have to keep changing the product's name! [ss]
- Slim Brites. Marketer: Spark Innovators. Pitch: "The flexible, super-bright LED lighting system." Comments: This is a neat item, and it would have a decent shot at success -- if lighting weren't a completely dead, Siren category right now. [ss]
- Vegie Fresh. Pitch: Keep "fruits and vegetables fresher for up to 50% longer." Comments: This pitch only worked once (for Debbie Meyer Green Bags in 2008) and never worked again. [ss]
Posted by Jordan Pine at 7:28 PM
In the upcoming May issue, I write about the following:
- A new duel that's developing between Telebrands' Amish Secret and SAS Group's Dutch Glow
- Allstar/Lenfest's latest collaboration: Catch Caddy
- IdeaVillage's Fun Feet (site is no longer live)
Check out next month's issue to see what I have to say about these projects.
Posted by Jordan Pine at 5:58 PM