February 26, 2015

Frame For Me

Description: A picture frame
Main Pitch: "Turn your child's artwork into a framed masterpiece"
Main Offer:$19.95 for one in black or white
Bonus: 2nd one in same color (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Watch it on iSpot.tv

In the last two days, we’ve had a coloring book for adults and a now a picture frame for children. Does it feel like Opposite Week to anyone else?

Actually, lumping these two projects together in completely unfair. While it may seem contradictory on its surface, a picture frame for kids makes sense while a coloring book for adults does not. The reason is actually pretty obvious: Kids want to be treated like grownups; grownups don’t want to be treated like kids. “Here’s a picture frame for your coloring project, Johnny” makes Johnny feel great. “Here’s a coloring book for you to play with, mom” makes your mom feel insulted.

As basic as that point may seem, some people are missing it. In the Comments section of my Colorama review, an anonymous poster wrote: “[T]hink about what seniors are doing all day … crosswords and coloring and watching TV.” Um, one of those words does not belong in that sentence. Can you tell me which one it is, kids?

S7 Analysis: I think this product and project are a great idea, but I admit that opinion is in defiance of many of my own criteria. This one also lacks some of the typical requirements for kids’ products (e.g. play value) and, to top it all off, faces the challenge of being a pretty unexciting object as well. In summary, this is a total gut call. But gut calls are a proper part of this business so long as they are made in moderation. And if your gut tells you a coloring book for adults is a good idea -- gut calls are not for you.

MXZ Saw: Old Gold?

New Name: Thunder Saw
Starring: Craig Jones
Current Marketer: Telebrands
Original Hit Year: 2006 (No. 26 on the JW Annual)
Original Marketer: Emson
Watch the spot

From a creative standpoint, this is the right way to attempt to bring back this item. It's one magic demo after another, one-upping even the original creative (available here, albeit in Romanian). The only thing I didn't like about the commercial: All the Aussie cliches, many of which haven't been amusing since Paul Hogan was a celebrity. There was room for a little of that humor, but they really overdid it.

This marketer may have a problem in this regard, a cultural tone-deafness of sorts. (Exhibit B: 2014's Blarney Charm.) Or it may be the problem of trying to walk that line. Without just the right touch, DR humor descends into self-parody. As mass-marketers, we also should not underestimate the sophistication of our audience. They aren't all rubes and children.

The great Claude Hopkins had an exercise where he asked you to imagine selling your product door to door. Updating that, imagine standing at a kiosk in your local mall wearing a big hat and a necklace of crocodile teeth, trying to sell this product using lines out of Crocodile Dundee movies and old Outback commercials. How successful do you think you'd be? How much more successful if you took yourself and your audience a bit more seriously?

S7 Analysis: Back in 2006, a pocket tool that could saw a cinderblock in half was different than anything people had seen before. Today, it seems like less of a novelty. Moreover, tools have become a tough, crowded category. It's also worth mentioning that a product targeted toward men is not targeted toward America's biggest buying group. But if I'm wrong about the first point, the other two won't matter.

Style Stockings

Description: Compression stockings
Main Pitch: "Keep your legs and feet feeling and looking great all day"
Main Offer: $10 for one in choice of 4 patterns
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Monte-Brooks
Watch the spot

Without consumer research, it would be impossible to guess whether the sort of woman who needs compression stockings would find this pitch motivating and these styles appealing. Thankfully, this marketer believes in consumer research, so despite the odd nature of the product, it must have a shot.

Of course, compression garments are nothing new to DR. There must be a dozen copper-infused variations on TV by now (for fun, open the latest Jordan Whitney and count the campaigns that have “copper” in the name), and the success of Ontel’s Miracle Socks (a 2011 True Top Spender) and Telebrands’ Ankle Genie (a 2014 True Top Spender) before the ‘copper explosion’ demonstrated the core concept is also viable.

S7 Analysis: The one I pause on is targeted. This project definitely faces the ‘segment of a segment’ problem. The question is whether that segment is large enough to support a campaign. One thing I know: DR buyers skew older, and older women are the ones who have the problems that are solved by compression stockings. When segmenting, it’s always good to be within the center of the ideal target.

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Aqua Chirps. Marketer: Allstar. Producer: Blue Moon Studios. Pitch: "The genuine glass bird that waters your plants for you." Comments: I am too close to this one to comment, but I can give the DR history. Allstar's Aqua Globes was a 2008 hit. A revival of the concept by the same marketer called Canterbury Crystal Globes didn't go in late 2013. Allstar also tried Little Birdie in March 2013. This project is a combination of concepts. (Side note: Blue Moon Studios has produced every commercial cited above.) [ss]
  3. Inject N Clean. Marketer: Hampton Direct. Pitch: "The fast and easy way to sanitize and clean under the carpet." Comments: This site is down, so it's either a monster hit or a 'fast fail.' My money is on the latter. [ss]
  5. Bend N' Bake. Marketer: Will It Launch? Pitch: "Bakes all cakes in all shapes." Comments: No, it probably won't launch because it has been tried twice before without success. (See No. 4 in this Weekly Round-Up and No. 5 in this Weekly Round-Up). In DR, the third time is rarely the charm. [ss]
  7. My Lil' Warmers. Pitch: "The reusable warming packs that provide instant warmth and relief." Comments: Been there, done that. I always liked the magic, but it wasn't enough to get consumers off the couch. [ss]
  9. Phone Sling. Pitch: "Never has it been so easy to hold, view and control your phone." Comments: Never has there been so many bombs of the same type. Beware the Siren! [ss]

February 25, 2015


Description: A coloring book ... for adults
Main Pitch: "Create something wonderful and relax"
Main Offer: $12.99 for one plus the Pocket Companion
Bonus: 51-piece color kit (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Watch it on iSpot.tv

File this one under: "What the heck were they thinking?!" I feel sorry for the producer: It can't be fun to be trapped between a rock (saying no to a valued client) and a hard place (trying to sell a coloring book to adults). But sometimes the only correct response is: "This cannot, and moreover should not, be done."

Doubt me? Here's a direct quote from a testimonial in the commercial: "I look forward to jumping into bed with the Colorama book and just melt[ing] away." The folks at SNL could not have done better. That's laugh-out-loud funny!

S7 Analysis: Needless to say, this will now be my No. 1 example of a project that fails the targeted criterion.


Description: A tablet stand
Main Pitch: "The ultimate go anywhere, hold any tablet stand"
Main Offer: $10 for one plus phone-stand version
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: The Schwartz Group
Watch the spot

A follow-up to -- and brand extension of -- GripGo (a 2013 True Top Spender), this project seeks to challenge my No. 1 bad category for DRTV and defy the history of similar solutions (e.g. Book Genie, Happy Sack, Stick Stand). The one thing it has going for it: The miracle of sticky silicone, which has fueled the success of several hits besides its predecessor (see Ruggies, Schticky).

S7 Analysis: Phone and tablet accessories top my list of bad categories because of a combination of the target/needed shortcomings. That is, because the DRTV buyer tends to be older, and thus less into tech, commercials have trouble finding the right audience and articulating a problem that resonates.

Key Readers

Description: Compact reading glasses
Main Pitch: "The reading glasses that are always right there when you need them"
Main Offer: $10 for one with clasp
Bonus: 2nd one with clasp (pay separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Blue Moon Studios
Watch the spot

This is at least the fifth attempt to market a solution to the problem of not having reading glasses handy when you need them, the most recent attempt being Top Dog's Jewel Views in November of last year.

What I've learned so far: People don't want flip-up reading glasses (Flip Vision). They don't want cheap-looking readers that slip into a wallet (My Lil' Readers). And they don't want a way to keep their readers clipped to their clothes (iSpex). Do they want a pendant or keychain fob that turns into reading glasses? I'm leaning toward "no."

S7 Analysis: I think the DRTV history reveals the challenge with this type of product: It's not needed enough to generate the impulse to buy. Combine that with the ubiquity of reading glasses of all types (the category is far from uncrowded), and the failure of this pitch to resonate to date is understandable.

February 12, 2015

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Hook-its. Marketer: Harvest. Pitch: "The fast and easy way to hang anything big or small on your wall." Comments: I have a sneaking suspicion that Hercules Hooks, a 2007 hit, was an outlier and not a category. Hampton's Insta Hang from 2012 could be used to disagree with that statement, but otherwise I have only logged failures (e.g Nano Hooks, Tap Hooks, Incredible Hooks). Even an attempt to bring back Hercules Hooks itself last year doesn't seem to have gone anywhere, and this product lacks a lot of the wow that Old Gold item had. I do think this item solves a problem, but it's low on the scale. [ss]
  3. Just Right Pillow. Marketer: Allstar. Pitch: "The only pillow that transforms for comfort in every position." Comments: Pillows didn't make my recent list of bad categories, but it was close. With this Website already down, my list of reasons grows longer. [ss]
  5. Magic Gate. Producer: Blue Moon Studios. Pitch: "The ingenious new mesh gate that keeps your dog where you want him." Comments: A few variations of this idea have been tried (e.g. No. 7 in this Weekly Round-Up) without success. My guess is that credibility is a barrier to purchase. How likely is it that a $15 DRTV product is going to be sturdy enough to be effective? Plus, pet owners aren't afraid to spend money and will likely spring for one of the higher-quality gates from their local PETCO if this is a concern. [ss]
  7. Pop Clocky. Producer: Hutton-Miller. Pitch: "The fun way to pop out of bed." Comments: This doesn't really have any play value, but it looks like enough fun to generate some pester power. [ss]
  9. Portion Right. Producer: Monte-Brooks. Pitch: "Eat in the right portion size to lose weight the simple way." Comments: I considered an item similar to this one years ago. (Actually, it was more like the Skinny Plate item below.) Anyway, some basic market research revealed that half of people had no interest in a 'nanny plate' while the other half thought it was a great idea, but mostly for other people. A common comment: "People need to learn proper portions, and this is a great way to teach them." So in other words: nannies loved it! [ss]
  11. Scour Power. Marketer: Edison Nation. Pitch: "The scrubbing brush made specifically for cleaning stinky kitchen sinks." Comments: This strikes me as a solution in search of a problem. I can't see people getting off the couch for a cleaning brush, either, let alone one as specific in purpose as this. [ss]
  13. Skinny Plate. Marketer: Will It Launch? Pitch: "Easy portion control for everyday life." Comments: See my comments above. Incidentally, I did not declare this a duel because those require major players to be interesting -- and items that are likely to roll out. [ss]
  15. Snuggins. Producer: Concepts TV. Pitch: "The hot new slipper socks for snuggly comfort and warmth." Comments: This attempt would have been understandable back in 2009 at the height of the Snuggie craze. Now it's just a total flyer. On the bright side, it's certainly in season. Overnight temps in New York tonight are expected to dip below zero! [ss]

February 05, 2015

Bed Boost

Description: An inflatable mattress supporter
Main Pitch: "Revives your old, sagging mattress instantly"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Ontel
Producer: Concepts TV
Watch the spot

This project is the second of its kind to hit the airwaves. The first was Bed Renu in December of last year. Because the first project was done under the radar, I can't tell if this is a legitimate duel, a 'follower' item or even a second attempt under a new name (which would not be uncommon for this marketer). I also can't tell if the first project was successful because not enough time has elapsed. Informative blog, huh?

What I can tell you is that Furniture Fix, a variation of this idea applied to couches (and also sofa beds), was a top 10 hit for Hampton Direct in both 2011 and 2012. And Concepts TV produced that commercial as well. So there!

S7 Analysis: There's a lot to like about this project from an S7 perspective. In fact, there's an argument to be made for giving it a seven out of seven. All of my doubts have nothing to do with checking the usual boxes. My question goes deeper and tries to get inside the head of the consumer.

Does she put her own comfort on the same level as her guests' comfort (e.g. when they sit on her couch or sleep on her sofa bed)? Or does she value her nightly comfort much, much more -- possibly even to the point where dropping several grand on a Tempur-Pedic seems like a better idea than taking a risk with a $20 fix for her sagging mattress? The answer to that question will determine the fate of these projects.

Pet Groom Pro: Old Gold?

Current/Original Marketer: IdeaVillage
Original Hit Year: 2005 (No. 31 on JW Annual)
Watch the spot

This is an example of 'throw the old commercial up and see what happens,' something this marketer does often. It's a lazy approach to be sure, but it's surprisingly effective -- and that underscores an important point ...

Wise marketers understand that viewers don't see commercials the way we see commercials. The efficacy of old creative is proof. What looks 'dated' to us looks just fine to your average consumer. As the late, great David Ogilvy once observed: "Scores of good advertisements have been (prematurely) discarded ... largely because their sponsors got sick of seeing them."

S7 Analysis: When Pet Groom Pro became a hit in the early 2000s, ionic technology was still a hot topic -- and Sharper Image was still in business. Since then, the technology has gotten killed with bad press (e.g. from Consumer Reports), Sharper Image has gone bankrupt and an ionic pet brush no longer seems needed or different enough to generate the impulse to buy.

I'm tempted to predict that this will be a 'fool me once' type of product, but I'll refrain because I am routinely surprised by just how little credibility is needed to achieve DR success.

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Pocket Hose Top Brass. Starring: Paul James, "The Gardener Guy." Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: The "#1 bestselling expandable hose is now 3X stronger." Comments: This is the third Pocket Hose to hit the market in a 'pro strategy' par excellence. The second was Pocket Hose Ultra in late 2013. Interesting that Richard Karn has been replaced by the lesser-known Paul James of HGTV fame. More interesting that the brand survives despite the less-than-stellar customer ratings of the original (just 2 out of 5 stars on Amazon). Examples like that lend credence to my assertion that customer satisfaction has very little impact on DR success. [ss]
  3. Dr. Hart's Power Floss. Marketer: On Demand. Producer: Hutton-Miller. Pitch: "The fast, easy, pain-free way to floss every day." Comments: Anything that makes flossing less of a chore seems like a good idea to me. Water flossers aren't new, but the average price at major retailers is about $50, so the value proposition is compelling. [ss]
  5. Scoopette. Marketer: Will It Launch? Pitch: "The dog walker's utility tool." Comments: No, it won't launch, and it's a rookie move to try. Anyone with DRTV experience knows pooper scoopers don't work. In fact, if I had to pick one type of product that I would recommend my clients never, ever try on DRTV, that would be the one. [ss]

That's all the DR items for this week, but here's an additional item from the catalog business I couldn't help but share (HT: Scott B.) It's the most extreme example of The Delusion of Single Explanations I've seen!

(First one to explain what I mean in the comments section wins a free subscription. First one to provide a rational explanation for the name choice wins my eternal admiration!)

The 3 Big DR Trends that Will Shape 2015

My latest Field Report for the ERA blog is now live. This month I write about three trends for 2015 that every short-form player should know about. Click here to read all about it.

On a side note, and in the department of shameless self-promotion, I am proud to announce that my first Field Report was the most-read ERA blog post of November 2014 (HT: Michael W.). And my second Field Report was the most-read ERA blog post of December 2014.

I did not take the top spot in January, but that's because my third report (the one above) was just published on February 4. We'll see if I can keep the streak alive!