November 28, 2014

SciMark Report from November Response


These guys just read Telebrands' Ebola 911

My latest SciMark Report in print is now available on the Response Website.

The items I reviewed include Telebrands' Ebola 911 book, Allstar's Wonder Whale and Ontel's Kitty Catch Mat .

Coming Soon

In the upcoming December issue, I'll be writing about this record first QUINTUPLE duel:

  1. Global TV's Jeaneez, vs.
  2.  
  3. Tristar's Slim Jeggings, vs.
  4.  
  5. Thane's Slim N Lift Caresse Jeans, vs.
  6.  
  7. SAS Group's Jazzy Jeggings, vs.
  8.  
  9. InvenTel's Hollywood Jeanz

Check out the upcoming issue to see what I have to say about this whole new level of competition!

November 27, 2014

Jewel Views

Description: Pendant reading glasses
Main Pitch: "The eyewear that's beautiful to wear"
Main Offer: $14.99 for a clear pair
Bonus: Black pair (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Top Dog
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Watch it on iSpot.tv

I have logged at least three eyeglasses projects in recent years, all by Telebrands and none successful (see my Flip Vision review for the history). So can Top Dog get different results?

In this case, my answer is yes. The problem with eyeglasses has been that they are just too easy to buy. To break through, you'd need something truly unique and exciting ... and I think the Top Dog & H-M team has nailed it! If this doesn't work, this is a probably a Siren category that should be avoided in the future.

S7 Analysis: This project stacks up pretty well against The SciMark Seven. The big challenge will be entering a crowded category that is full of cheap solutions.

Max Lash

Description: Brush-on lash extensions
Main Pitch: "Longer, fuller, sexier lashes instantly"
Main Offer: $10 for a set of two plus carry case and mirror
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Starring: Taylor Baldwin
Marketer: Ontel
Watch the spot

This is an attempt to mine 'Old Gold' with a similar solution. The original hit was SAS Group's Dream Lash, which was No. 45 on the 2004 JW Annual. Because I'm not sure how close this product is to that 2004 hit, I didn't make this an official 'Old Gold' feature, but the pitches are certainly similar.

S7 Analysis: In 2004, lash-enhancing products like this were less common. Today, the category has become much more crowded. There is even a prescription product for growing lashes "longer, fuller and darker" called Latisse. The growth in the number and promotion of similar solutions will also affect the uniqueness perception of the product. That is, women may not find it different enough to warrant purchase.

Otherwise, this project meets The SciMark Seven criteria. Clearly it is needed, and it is targeted toward one of the largest buying groups in America.

Genie Slimmers

Description: Shaping panty hose
Main Pitch: "So comfortable, you won't know you're wearing them -- and you'll look up to 10 pounds slimmer"
Main Offer: $10 for a pair in nude
Bonus: 2nd pair in black (free)
Brand: Genie
Starring: Stella Riches
Marketer: Tristar
Producer: Tara Productions
Watch the spot

In an industry where brand-building and line extensions are rare, Tristar took the Genie Bra (No. 10 on the 2012 Jordan Whitney annual) and parlayed it into a multimillion-dollar business . This latest addition will fit comfortably (get it?) into the line.

S7 Analysis: Yet again, the big challenge here will be competing in the very crowded shapewear category. However, Tristar has done it before, and this product has features that make it notably different from other shapewear on the market.

Stella Riches, a live shopping host, is also a solid choice for spokesperson with an engaging style. My only concern regarding the commercial is that it tries to communicate too many messages (comfort, three ways to wear the product, looking 10 pounds slimmer), and thus sacrifices clarity. If that creates confusion, it could become a sales killer.

HotDo

Description: Artificial hair
Main Pitch: "Hot new hair accessory ... looks so real it's unreal"
Main Offer: $14.99 for one (choice of 11 colors)
Bonus: Style Guide (free)
Marketer: Top Dog
Producer: Concepts TV
Watch it on iSpot.tv

Even though this is not the same thing as Allstar's Secret Extensions, it's close in concept. (There's even a testimonial from an Hispanic "celebrity TV host"). That makes me think it would fit under the 'Secret' brand as well as the 'Hot' brand if it rolls out.

S7 Analysis: As with all projects attempted in this 1-in-50 category, the big challenge is being considered different enough (in a good way) to break through. Allstar has demonstrated that a large enough buying group views too little hair as a problem that needs solving, meaning this product could actually meet the needed criterion. But the fashion/style aspect of the product makes the outcome of this test anyone's guess.

Bambillo

Description: A bamboo pillow
Main Pitch: "Designed to perfectly adjust and support every shape, size and sleeping posture"
Main Offer: $29.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Tristar
Watch it on iSpot.tv

I'm told bamboo is one of the hottest new trends in materials, and the pillow category certainly has an excellent track record, having supported up to four products on the shelf at one time (Total Pillow, Side Sleeper Pro, Sobakawa Cloud Pillow and My Pillow). That said, DR marketers have been all over pillows for years, and that has inevitably led to many failures as well. Ultimately, I'm not sure anyone really knows the secret to success in this category.

S7 Analysis: This project faces the same S7 challenges all pillows face: a crowded category and trouble engaging viewers because the product literally just lies there. That said, the commercial features credible testimonials, good animation (a la Contour Cloud Pillow, a 1998 hit involving this marketer) and a solid magic demo in the raw-egg test -- which from what I've seen is the right way to go about overcoming those challenges.

The only things I didn't like: the Australian angle (not sure that adds anything) and the "eight pillows in one" pitch, which made the commercial less clear.

Hercules Hooks: Old Gold?

Current Marketer: Telebrands
Original Marketer: Vertical Branding
Original Hit Years: 2007 (No. 22 on JW, No. 44 on IMS)
Watch it on iSpot.tv

The original spot for this product starred Billy Mays, whose beard made him look more like Hercules than a clean-shaven Sully does. Otherwise, the pitch is remarkably similar.

S7 Analysis: This project meets all of The SciMark Seven criteria, which makes sense given it was already a hit. The question is whether, seven years later, the market has changed and the product is no longer different or needed enough to generate the impulse to buy.

As for the commercial, with the exception of the attention-grabbing voice of the late, great Billy Mays, it's every bit as engaging and motivating as the original.

November 20, 2014

Dump Dinners

Description: A cookbook
Main Pitch: "Make 'from scratch' dinners for your family in minutes -- just dump and bake"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: Dump Cakes cookbook (just pay a separate fee)
Starring: Cathy Mitchell
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.BuyDumpDinners.com
Prediction: Likely to succeed

The unappetizing titles continue! According to my mid-year True Top Spenders of 2014, Dump Cakes is a bona-fide hit -- despite its not-too-tasty title. It's also getting great PR pickup. (Here's Cathy Mitchell pitching it on the Today show and to Steve Harvey.) Meanwhile, Dump Loaf, and product with an even less appetizing name, didn't go anywhere.

Now it's back to books, and this one makes a lot of sense. Originally the bonus item for Dump Cakes, this was a natural extension and likely has legs of its own -- despite the negative associations created by the title.

[Spot is also available here.]

Cat A Pillar

Description: A cat tunnel toy
Main Pitch: "Keep your feline friends busy for hours"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Concepts TV
Website: www.BuyCatAPillar.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Telebrands deserves more than a flippant review, but I called it!

While eating crow for failing to predict the success of Cat's Meow, I wrote: "My only consolation will be watching 12 other cat toys fail as marketers demonstrate this isn't really a category ... Actually, that will be sad." We are now a third of the way there (see also Cheese Tease, SmartyKat Feather Whirl and Twinkle Paws).

Of course, this could work and really force me to eat crow. But I seriously doubt that. Like trying to have a hit with a hair product or fashion item, it's impossible to guess what cat owners will go crazy for .

[The commercial for this project is also available here.]

Purse Pouch

Description: A handbag holder
Main Pitch: "Keeps your purse and everything in it secure and right by your side"
Main Offer: $10 for one in black or tan
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Website: www.BuyPursePouch.com
Prediction: On the fence

Allstar has tested a solution similar to this one before (Bundle Buddy in 2011). This is a better product, but I question whether that's enough to fix a failed pitch. I do like the "hammock for your handbag" idea, and the success of Catch Caddy (21 weeks on the Jordan Whitney) suggests there is something to the idea of making things easier to access in the car.

[Spot is also available here.]

Kitty File

Description: A cat scratcher/laser toy
Main Pitch: "Now kitty can trim her own claws while she plays"
Main Offer: $19.95 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Concepts TV
Website: www.KittyFile.com
Prediction: On the fence

Marketers continue to try bringing back old hits less than 7-10 years later. In this case the old hit is Emery Cat, which was No. 9 and No. 24 on the JW and IMS annuals, respectively, in 2010.

So far, though, the strategy hasn't produced a hit. Telebrands has been the most active this year, trying and failing to resurrect both Pedi Paws (a 2008 hit) and Shoes Under (a 2009 hit) . Of course, both Telebrands and Allstar have had success reviving items that conform to the traditional '7-10' rule -- sometimes in direct conflict with each other (see Perfect Pancake vs. Flip Jack).

As always, I appreciate it when I get an opportunity to learn for free. We'll see if this project is able to throw the old rule of thumb into question. I do like the new laser toy feature.

By the way, if you can think of an 'Old Gold' item that came back and made the annual charts again in under seven years, shoot me an email or post a comment. I'll give you a hat tip (and, as a result, bragging rights) the next time I write about this topic.

[The commercial for this project is also available here.]

Sealeeze

Description: A bag sealer
Main Pitch: "The new way to keep food fresh"
Main Offer: $14.95 for a pack of nine
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Emson
Producer: Kerrmercials
Website: www.BuySealeeze.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Bag sealers have a poor track record on DRTV. (See Ba'Noodle, Better Sealer and the failed revival of EuroSealer 10 years after it was a hit.

As I've mentioned before, I think this is because it's so easy to pick up "chip clips" and other good-enough solutions at the grocery store. There are also tons of quality food-storage products on the shelf by big brands such as Glad and Ziploc, which ultimately makes items like these solutions in search of a problem.

[Spot is also available here.]

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Mighty Meatball. Starring: Marc Gill. Marketer: Spark Innovators. Producer: The Schwartz Group. Pitch: "Shape, stuff and seal four delicious meatballs at once." Comments: Stufz, the hamburger version of this idea, was a mid-year 2014 True Top Spender. Although the meatloaf version of this idea didn't work, I think it's possible the meatball version will. Made me hungry! Come to think of it, I'm surprised this wasn't tried as part of a new Stufz line. It would also make a good addition to Allstar's 'Perfect' line. [ss]
  2.  
  3. Adjust A Plug. Marketer: Allstar. Pitch: "Plug in hundreds of different size adapters without blocking another socket." Comments: An apparent 'fast fail.' The $29.95 price point may have had something to do with it. Side Socket was $14.95 and, more to the point, was likely an outlier instead of a category. [ss]
  4.  
  5. Chop N Twist. Pitch: "Easily rotate your foods as you chop them." Comments: "Easily" implies difficulty, but I don't know a single person who has difficulty rotating their food when chopping it. Talk about a contrived problem! [ss]
  6.  
  7. Cord Cruncher. Pitch: "The retractable ear bud system ... with no tangles, ever." Comments: For some reason, I have evaluated at least a half dozen solutions for tangled headphone cords in the last few years. It's a classic case of developers mistaking an annoyance for a real problem. (Or solving an "itch" not a "heart attack," if you prefer the language of the Fabulous Five.) As I've mentioned, the tech-accessory category also has a terrible track record on DRTV. [ss]
  8.  
  9. Hanger Jack Scroll. Marketer: Will It Launch. Pitch: "Provides hanging space when you need it." Comments: Although better in quality than the last few products from this marketer, this product also has no shot at success. The reason is category history: Every attempt to market an outside-of-the-closet hanging solution has failed, and there have been many over the years. [ss]
  10.  
  11. iSeeit. Pitch: "Lights up your remote control in the dark." Comments: A solution in search of a problem. [ss]
  12.  
  13. Nu Seat. Marketer: Eagle Eye. Producer: Opfer. Pitch: "Slip-on auto seat cover" covers "years of damage, dirt and grime." Comments: This is the car version of EZ Covers. That one didn't work, and it is unlikely this one will, either. That's probably because too small of a segment drives cars beat up enough for this to be a real problem. [ss]
  14.  
  15. Stay Cold. Pitch: "Keeps your drinks ice cold from the first sip to the last." Comments: I didn't realize Larry The Cable Guy had fallen on such hard times! Anyway, this is WAY out of season given the snowstorms crippling many parts of the country right now. Even in season, this won't work because it doesn't solve a real problem. Neat party trick, though. [ss]

November 13, 2014

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Body Bling. Marketer: Emson. Pitch: "The hot new metallic jewelry tattoos." Comments: Third to market with a 'me too' solution. With two powerful players already dueling, this one is going nowhere fast. [ss]
  2.  
  3. Hyper Disc. Pitch: "Spins and hovers like no other." Comments: Cool toy. Great spot and demos. Anyone's guess if it will be successful. [ss]
  4.  
  5. Lava Thaw. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "Defrosts meat in minutes." Comments: A 'fast fail.' (Link goes to spot.) This could also be considered an attempt at 'Old Gold' given a similar item (Miracle Thaw) was a hit in 1995. However, this is at least the third failed attempt to bring it back (see Smart Thaw). [ss]
  6.  
  7. Plusharoos. Pitch: "Soft, cuddly toys you craft, play and decorate." Comments: Another plush toy. Yay! [ss]
  8.  
  9. Rapid Roaster. Marketer: Allstar. Pitch: "Microwave roasting pan ... delivers oven-roasted results three times faster." Comments: Another 'fast fail.' (Link goes to spot.) Despite the success of Stone Wave and Potato Express, both 2013 True Top Spenders, I continue to believe the microwave is a bad DR category. [ss]
  10.  
  11. Squeeze Driver. Marketer: Arrow. Pitch: "Just squeeze to drive screws, nuts and bolts." Comments: Unsurprisingly, manual versions of powered products don't do well on DRTV -- especially when the powered product sells for about the same price. [ss]
  12.  
  13. TruTac. Marketer: Arrow. Pitch: "Home stapler ... is your ultimate home project solution." Comments: This is a classic 'better than' product, and such products do not drive direct response. [ss]
  14.  
  15. Tush Ups. Starring: Megan Gunning. Pitch: "The new shapewear that gives you a perfect derriere." Comments: This pitch has been tried several times without success. I detail the attempts in this review. Timing is everything, though, and shapewear has certainly been a good DR category. [ss]
  16.  
  17. Unframe. Marketer: Will It Launch. Pitch: "A fast and affordable way to display family pics, greeting cards and more." Comments: Unbelievably un-DR. [ss]
  18.  
  19. Xglide. Pitch: "Speed painter ... paints everything in half the time." Comments: This is a bit of a contraption, which undermines its credibility, and the category history is pretty sparse. IdeaVillage's EdgeMaster (2001-2002) was the biggest success, and even that one failed to rise again. [ss]

November 05, 2014

New Column: Field Report


I've been asked to write another column, this one for the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA). The monthly post is called "Field Report" and covers issues, challenges, questions, trends, etc. that are being discussed and debated at the top companies in our industry (since I often talk with the executives at most of them).

My inaugural column discusses the most important number in DR. What do you think it is?

Click here to read what I think.

My Cleaning Secret

Description: A cleaning solution
Main Pitch: "Makes pots, pans, ovens and more look like new"
Main Offer: $9.95 for one tub plus a double-sided cleaning pad
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Starring: Chef Tony Notaro
Brand: Simoniz
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Dynamic TV Marketing
Website: www.MyCleaningSecret.com
Prediction: N/A

I originally reviewed this project back in July (see No. 14 in this massive Weekly Round-Up). It was apparently not a 'fast fail.' My comments were otherwise unfavorable.

Since then, the success of projects such as InstaGone Pro and InVinceable has changed my thinking a bit. Both broke through in the cleaning category by being different and not going after territory (carpets, counter tops. laundry) already dominated by mega-brands. This 'pots, pans and other things' pitch may just work. The involvement of Allstar is certainly a positive sign.

[Spot is also available here.]

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Diamond Z4 Eternity. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "The look and feel of a brilliant, expensive, genuine diamond." Comments: This is fascinating as it is a 'pro' strategy applied to jewelry. The original Diamond Z4, a different cut of CZ, was a 2012 True Top Spender. [ss]
  2.  
  3. Gentle Gel. Marketer: Norman Direct. Producer: Monte-Brooks. Pitch: "The cozy toe topper that's lined with gel on the inside to relieve and comfort achy feet." Comments: An apparent 'fast fail.' (Link goes to spot.) [ss]
  4.  
  5. No Sweat Socks. Marketer: Norman Direct. Producer: Monte-Brooks. Pitch: "The super-stretchy, completely comfortable socks that keep your feet cool and dry." Comments: Seems like this would only appeal to a segment of a segment (perhaps the same hyperhidrotics who would buy No. 4 in this Weekly Round-Up). Also, there are already socks on the market from familiar brands that promise similar benefits. [ss]
  6.  
  7. One Stop Shine. Marketer: Tristar. Pitch: "All-in-one waterless car miracle that cleans your car from roof to rim." Comments: Another apparent 'fast fail.' Until Avento's Wipe New (a 2012 and 2013 True Top Spender), I didn't think it was possible to have success in this category. But one hit does not a good DRTV category make -- as this attempt helps demonstrate. [ss]
  8.  
  9. Phone Slicker. Marketer: Will It Launch. Pitch: "Crystal clear, all-weather protection that shields your smart phone from accidental water damage." Comments: Will it launch? No. Besides the fact that it has the perceived value of a sandwich bag and is in one of the worst DR categories right now (phone accessories), the concept has already been tried without success (see IdeaVillage's Reef Case). [ss]
  10.  
  11. Power Blaster Pro. Pitch: "Turns any garden hose into a powerful, portable pressure washer." Comments: Yet another 'fast fail.' (Link goes to spot.) This 'Old Gold' item was brought back by Ontel (see Turbo Jet) earlier this year, and Telebrands took a few shots at similar items this year as well (see Mighty Blaster, Turbo Shot). [ss]