The results are in, so without further delay, here are your True Top Spenders (TTS) of 2014:
And here are the big winners ...
True Top Marketer: Telebrands
Telebrands takes the top spot for the third year in a row with 10 campaigns on the list. Congratulations yet again to AJ and the Telebrands team. They are the undisputed champions of producing hits!
Moving on, Allstar takes second with eight on the list, edging out IdeaVillage. Although the two marketers were technically tied, Allstar had the greater number of new campaigns since I published my last list. In an impressive jump, they added five hit campaigns in a half-year's time. Finally, Tristar and Emson both deserve honorable mentions with five and four campaigns, respectively.
True Top Producer: Hutton-Miller
After just missing a tie for first last year, H-M hangs on from mid-year to grab the gold with seven campaigns on the list. Congratulations to John, Peter and the rest of their brilliant team. The Queen-tribute version of Perfect Bacon Bowl was easily my favorite commercial of the year!
Meanwhile, after taking the top spot for two years in a row, Concepts TV comes in a close second with six on the list. I guess it was their turn to have a near-miss. In any case, congratulations to the ladies (and gents) in Boonton for another killer year!
As for the honorable mentions, I'd like to single out Kerrmercials and Cole Media, both with three campaigns to their credit. Backed by the prolific pros at Paddock Productions, Tim Kerr continues his rise to the top. And Brad Cole's shop is also trending. Great work this year, guys!
FEEDERS & FOLLOWERS
My recent column about "feeders" for the ERA blog gave me an idea. If you click through to the full TTS list, you'll notice I am now crediting feeders in the marketer column (when known). I think it's important for the entire industry to realize that a significant percentage of hits come from small companies that partner with the bigger firms for distribution and financing. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that 16 of the campaigns on this year's list -- nearly a third -- came from feeders.
I'll go one step further: This year's top feeders were Lenfest Media Group and 221 Direct with four and three campaigns, respectively. With most of the major players struggling to discover that many winners of their own (see below), the importance of feeders to the future of DR has never been clearer.
Speaking of important trends, there are also more 'follower' items on the charts than ever before. I count 11, which amounts to 1 in 5. Of these, three come from duels involving at least three marketers (hoses, copper garments and jeggings). You can see why I think intense competition is one of three trends that will define our industry in 2015.
Putting these two together, fully half of the TTS come from feeders and followers, and that supports a point I made after publishing my mid-year list (see "Where do they get those hits?"). Let's continue the theme of that post and take a look at how the hits from the top six marketers break down (to the best of my knowledge):
- Telebrands: 6 homegrown, 0 feeders, 4 followers
- Allstar: 3 homegrown, 5 feeders, 0 followers
- IdeaVillage: 1 homegrown, 2 feeders, 5 followers
- Tristar: 1 homegrown, 2 feeders, 2 followers
- Emson: 2 homegrown, 2 feeders, 0 followers
- Hampton: 0 homegrown, 3 feeders, 0 followers
Although I have now stopped making predictions, I am still expressing my opinions about products in no uncertain terms -- and that means I owe it to you folks to own my bad calls. Here are the ones that I got the most wrong:
1. Be Active. Category history is an important consideration when evaluating DR products, but it can sometimes lead you astray. This campaign, one of the biggest of the year (if not the biggest), is a case in point. My evaluation was based on the poor track record of back-relief products on DRTV -- and it was painfully wrong. (Read my original comments here.)
2. 3-Way Poncho. This is another one that defied category history as it became the first convertible garment to succeed on DRTV. I gave the project 2 out of 5 stars, which means I underestimated Suzanne Somers and thought the project unlikely to succeed. (Read my original comments here.)
3. Ultimate Detangling Brush. This Emson hit appears on my annual chart for the second year in a row, which leaves no doubt I was wrong about its DR potential. Indeed, this campaign is one reason I changed a favorite catch-phrase. "In DR, the third time is never the charm" has become: "In DR, the third time is seldom the charm." More so since this was the fourth time a detangling brush had been tried. (Read my original comments here.)
4. Clear TV. "This project should have been killed in an earlier phase" were my exact words. Apparently not! My analysis of the concept seemed spot on, but I obviously missed something the Tristar team did not. Good for them, embarrassing for me. (Read my original comments here.)
5. Easy View. I thought this was a "catalog item at best." Not only was it good enough for TV, but it was also good enough to be copied -- twice. (Read my original comments here.)
Those were the big ones. Let me know if you think I need to address any others.