February 25, 2016

Copper Tag Out

Description: A skin tag remover
Main Pitch: "The easy, safe and natural way to remove skin tags at home"
Main Offer: $10 for 12
Bonus: 12 more (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands (2015 True Top Marketer)
Producer: Blue Moon
Watch the spot

You've heard of "not safe for work" (NSFW)? This one is not safe for mealtime (NSFM). Let's just say the image I picked for this post was the least gross. You've been warned ...

Moving on, this is technically a duel since one of the top 'feeders' in the industry just came out with the same item (see No. 8 in this Weekly Round-Up). However, it's unclear whether and how the duel would develop, so I'm just writing a basic review for now.

My thoughts remain the same. First, gross! Second, this seems like it would be painful, and cutting off blood flow is a bit frightening to me. Third, I'm thinking Tag Away was probably an outlier.

Ogreenic Mug

Description: A travel mug
Main Pitch: "Keeps coffee fresh all day long ... won't ever tip over"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Starring: Craig Burnett
Marketer: Telebrands (2015 True Top Marketer)
Producer: Kerrmercials
Watch the spot

Coffee mugs are another of my least-favorite categories for DRTV. I've never known any to be successful, and that includes some pretty neat ones such as Earthquake Mug (from which this project borrows part of its pitch). This also has the brand-mismatch issue I have been writing about recently. If Orgreenic stands for anything in the consumer's mind these days, it's non-stick ceramic -- not coffee-mug ceramic.

S7 Analysis: The obvious S7 shortcoming any coffee mug faces is that the category is crowded. While Mr. Burnett does a great job pitching the heck (can you say "hell" on direct-response television?) out of this mug, it's going to be hard to convince people this is meaningfully different from what they've seen before.

Recline Easy

Description: An extension handle for recliners
Main Pitch: "Lets you recline with ease and makes getting up a breeze"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands (2015 True Top Marketer)
Producer: Kerrmercials
Watch the spot

This seems too overly specific to be a good DRTV item. It's the 'segment of a segment' issue: Adults > who have recliners > who struggle to use said recliners. Even if the product were able to find its market on TV, the campaign would be limited.

I suppose Trusty Cane and, to some extent, Car Cane (everyone uses a car, not all use a recliner) give reason for hope. But I'd bet both of those campaigns faced the problem I'm articulating.

S7 Analysis: This item hits two out of three product criteria, but in this case two out of three is bad. Specifically, it's different and needed, but only for a too-narrow target market.

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Body Collar. Pitch: "Turns your tug of war into a walk in the park." Comments: This project reminds me of Media Enterprises' Instant Trainer, which didn't roll out. Leashes and harnesses have a terrible track record on DRTV. The only bright spot was Telebrand's Comfy Control, which made the Jordan Whitney annual in 2011 but not the IMS annual for that year. [ss]
  2.  
  3. Snap-Hooks. Pitch: "Like having an extra hand right when you need it most." Comments: Amateur hour. Although there are some interesting elements (e.g. the Baggler demo), this item is too common to have made it past the evaluation phase. [ss]
  4.  
  5. Stack Magic. Pitch: "Your new secret to keep clothes folded, stacked and super neat." Comments: This concept was tried in 2007 under the name Wardrobe Wonders. One fail isn't enough to abandon an idea in my book, but the knowledge that this sort of hyper-organization tool would only appeal to a small percentage of the population is. [ss]

February 23, 2016

What is Advertising? I Know They Don't Know

Here's a simple question: What is advertising? Can you sum it up in just a few words? (Hint: It has little to do with what you saw during the breaks of the most recent Super Bowl.)

More than 100 years ago, an ad man named Albert Lasker found he didn't have a good answer to this question. When he later discovered the answer, it was so powerful that it helped him revolutionize his industry.

To learn more, check out my latest post for the ERA blog.

SciMark Report from February Response

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

For this month's issue, I wrote about the first triple duel of the year: Ontel's Simply Straight vs. Tristar's 6 Second Straight vs. Emson's Hot 'N Straight.

Coming Soon

In the upcoming March issue, I'll be changing it up. Instead of writing about duels, I'll be writing about three marketers doing their own thing. Reviews include:

February 21, 2016

CorVex

Description: A ceramic pan
Main Pitch: "Fuses the best quality of cookware into a one-pan, chef-quality solution"
Main Offer: $29.95 for one in red or black
Bonus: Lid with steam valve, 5-year warranty (free)
Starring: Anne Burrell
Marketer: Emson
Watch the spot

Emson has the hottest pan on DRTV right now (the Gotham Steel pan featuring Chef Daniel Green), so it's odd timing for them to try another pan, especially one with weaker benefits. My hypothesis that's 'there's only room for one' applies even if you are following your own leading product. Worse yet, the airwaves are lousy with pans right now, which further reduces the odds of this one breaking through.

Bottom line: I would have saved this for an Ouroboros strategy down the road.

S7 Analysis: As mentioned, the main S7 fail here is that the category is currently super-crowded. But even if it weren't, I'd still wonder if this pan were different enough from the pans that have already been done. The "cast ceramic" idea (a play on cast iron) has some potential, but it's somewhat lost in a 'Swiss Army' pitch.

InstaHook

Description: Removable hanging hooks
Main Pitch: "Just peel and stick -- it's that quick"
Main Offer: $14.95 for six regular and six giant hooks
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Emson
Producer: Kerrmercials
Watch the spot

This is the fourth time this item has been tried. Allstar tried it as Jerry Hook (see No. 3 in this Weekly Round-Up), IdeaVillage tried it as Nano Hooks and an unknown marketer tried it as Gripeez in early 2014. In DR, the third time is seldom the charm, but I've noted a few cases when it was. I have no evidence, though, than the fourth time is ever the charm.

S7 Analysis: The obvious fail here, based on past history, must be the needed criterion. If you watch the opening of this spot, it feels like a set of contrived problems because it probably is.

Bowl Light

Description: A toilet bowl light
Main Pitch: "Transforms your toilet into a soft and gentle night light"
Main Offer: $12.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Ontel (2015 SciMark Star Marketer)
Watch the spot

Zoom gave this a shot in 2014 (see Bowl Brite). Not sure if this is a second life for that product or an independent attempt with a similar item. What I do know is that the first commercial took the wrong approach while this commercial at least hits the pitch correctly. The focus on kids is especially good and may give this one a shot.

S7 Analysis: The color-changing feature is what trips me up when I try to evaluate this item. I can't see anyone needing it, but it does enhance the product's point of difference. There has also been an odd affinity among DRTV buyers for kid gadgets that make bathroom water multi-colored. Allstar had a hit with 2013's Party in the Tub, and Norman's Shower Wow was a 2015 True Top Spender.

Scrub Armor

Description: A stainless-steel scrubber
Main Pitch: "Cut through tough messes in just one pass"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands (2015 True Top Marketer)
Watch the spot

Scrubbers have a poor track record on DRTV. Despite the non-DRTV success of Scrub Daddy, for example, Telebrands' follower item (Hog Wash Scrubber) went nowhere. Both Allstar and Ontel have also tried scrubbers (Dual Diamond Scrubber, Magic Sponge). My hypothesis: Such items are just too common to motivate an impulse purchase.

S7 Analysis: "Too common" is another way of saying this is a crowded category, and such categories make it hard to come up with something that's truly different.

Eggies 2

Description: A new version of Eggies
Main Pitch: "All new and improved two-piece [design is] the fast, easy way to cook hard-boiled eggs without the shell"
Main Offer: $14.99 for six with egg white separator
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Watch the spot

Allstar has tried to resurrect this 2011 hit once before (see Egg Pops). This one strikes me as more of a "pro" strategy, but those typically follow a year or two after a hit peaks.

Alternatively, this could be viewed as another attempt to see if five years is enough time to find new success with Old Gold. With eggs anything is possible, but the track record so far hasn't been promising.

Touch 'N Brush: Old Gold?

Current Name: Press2Paste
Current Marketer: Allstar
Original Hit Year: 2009 (No. 87 on the JW Annual)
Original Marketer: Allstar/Merchant Media
Watch the spot

To be honest, I'm still not sure why this item was a success in the first place. I have three kids, all under 10, so I should be the ideal customer. Yes, the kids make a mess when they brush their teeth. But no, I don't think a dispenser is going to solve the problem. What's to stop them from pressing the button repeatedly just to see what happens? It looks like fun in the commercial, and that's a bad thing for sure. I'd go in to find that instead of a sink covered in toothpaste, I now have a dispenser covered in toothpaste to clean.

I digress. Let's assume credibility and forward-thinking aren't relevant to DRTV success. Crazy talk, I know. From that standpoint, this one looks promising. Allstar knows how to sell it, and we're close enough to the seven-year break a Phoenix needs to rise again. The rank from 2009 indicates this won't be a huge hit, but it could certainly have another nice run.

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Spin Maid. Starring: Amy Walker. Pitch: "Clean and polish all floor surfaces with ease." Comments: I like the fresh approach to the creative, and Amy is genuinely likable and funny. (If you've never heard of her, check out her Accents with Amy YouTube channel.) At $50, this is also noteworthy as another experiment in higher price points, which I wrote about recently for ERA (see "Breaking the Price Barrier"). [ss]
  2.  
  3. Bag Hero. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "Make your bags stand up and keep chips super fresh." Comments: A 'fast fail.' [ss]
  4.  
  5. Fantasy Candles. Pitch: "Inside this unique candle likes a beautiful jewelry treasure." Comments: This falls into the category of 'things you should never buy your woman if you like sleeping next to her.' The previous one was Allstar's Magic Bloom. [ss]
  6.  
  7. Kitchen Eyes. Pitch: "Helps you read the fine print wherever you are." Comments: The trouble with this item is it's fixed in one place. The successes in this category were all portable (Page Brite, OWL). [ss]
  8.  
  9. Sensei Slicer. Pitch: "Ideal for precision cutting and thin slicing." Comments: It's hard to have a hit with a knife. It's such a commodity category, you need a strong point of difference -- and sharpness and precision cutting aren't going to do it these days. [ss]
  10.  
  11. Shoe Slotz. Pitch: "Shoe-stacking organizers that double any size storage space instantly." Comments: Shoe storage is one of the few organizational categories that has yielded hits (see Shoes Under, Shoes Away). That said, I've witnessed a lot of failed attempts. [ss]
  12.  
  13. Skoother. Marketer: Harvest. Pitch: "The best skin smoother you'll ever use, guaranteed." Comments: Bad timing. [ss]
  14.  
  15. Tag Free. Marketer: Lenfest. Producer: Concepts. Pitch: "Remove unsightly skin tags in as little as 48 hours." Comments: Getting past the gross factor, which can sometimes be a benefit, this looks painful and has a fear factor to it that may inhibit sales. Something about cutting off blood flow, even to a thing you want to get rid of, is frightening. Tag Away was gentle and easy. I also tend to think it was an outlier. [ss]
  16.  
  17. Teazie. Starring: Campbell McAuley. Pitch: "Big, bold, beautiful volume in just one pass." Comments: Hair is a 1 in 50 category (for most marketers) and teasing combs are common, so this one is banking on its celebrity stylist. [ss]

February 11, 2016

Pasta Bunny

Description: A clip-on colander
Main Pitch: "Simply clip onto any pot or pan and strain"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: 2nd one plus Hop Chopper (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands (2015 True Top Marketer)
Producer: Sullivan
Watch the spot

If you think today's multi-way duels are uniquely crazy, you weren't around in 2003. That's the year every DRTV marketer came out with a pasta pot to compete with Merchant Media's Pasta Pro. Telebrands had the Better Pasta Pot, Tristar had the Pasta Pot Express and Emson had the InstaPasta Pot. So, like everyone else who was around at that time, I've had a keen interest in every pasta strainer I've seen since then.

A few subsequent successes validated that feeling. There was Tristar's Pasta Express in 2006, and Telebrands' Pasta Boat in 2010. The trouble is, there have also been many failures. Recently, they have come in similar form to this product. For example, SAS tried twice in 2013 with a close cousin (see Better Strainer).

S7 Analysis: It's hard to find any S7 flaws in the sort of concept that once lured four marketers into a feeding frenzy. The open question is whether such solutions still come across as different enough. Back in the Pasta Pro days, combining a colander and a pot was a breakthrough idea -- simple yet brilliant. But like many ideas from the Golden Age, it may not seem as brilliant to consumers today.

Attractive Hangers

Description: Magnetic hangers
Main Pitch: "Stylish, ultra-slim, ultra-strong, one-piece designer hangers with a magnetic core"
Main Offer: $19.99 for 20 in beige or black
Bonus: 20 more (just pay P&H)
Starring: Trish Suhrr
Marketer: Tristar
Watch the spot

Joy Mangano is a hot topic right now thanks to the David O. Russell movie dramatizing her life. I mention this because Ms. Mangano is one of the few people to have had success with hangers in short form. Her Huggable Hangers made the charts in 2007, and these hangers bear some resemblance to that monster item. They also have a solid space-saving benefit (see above), which is the pitch that worked for Magic Hangers back in 1999 and Wonder Hanger in 2009-2010. Oh, and that magnet demo is pretty cool. So far, so good.

S7 Analysis: On the other hand, I have to wonder if a better hanger is really needed these days. Velvet hangers like the ones Ms. Mangano introduced are common now and widely available. Space-saving hangers are also fairly ubiquitous. The magnet trick is nifty, but I question whether it's different enough to break through.

Mighty Mini Vac

Description: A small cordless vacuum
Main Pitch: "Get the portable cleaning power you need where you need it"
Main Offer: $9.95 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Tristar
Producer: Dynamic
Watch the spot

This concept has been tried before. Allstar gave it a shot under the name Pocket Vac in 2013 and Telebrands tried it under the name Crumb Bug in 2014. No dice.

S7 Analysis: What previous tests are indicating is that a mini vacuum isn't really needed. A full-size vacuum is needed, and a handheld vacuum is needed, but a smaller vacuum for crumbs and other really small jobs is apparently slicing the need too thin.

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Shark Gloves. Marketer: Lenfest. Producer: The Schwartz Group. Pitch: "Steel fiber gloves keep your hands safe." Comments: I love the creative thinking that went into the opening of this spot. What a great way to grab people's attention! The product is much less exciting, though. The only utility gloves that ever really worked on DRTV were the Ove Glove, a success Ontel and Marc Gill are now trying to replicate with Hot Hands. Gloves for handling hot things make sense to me as they meet an everyday need. The same can't be said about gloves for handling sharp things. Beyond knives, which most people have figured out how to use safely, there aren't many dangerous sharp things people need to handle regularly. [ss]
  2.  
  3. Chair Shaper. Marketer: Telebrands. Producer: Kerrmercials. Pitch: "Improve strength and flexibility from a comfortable seated position." Comments: This is similar in concept to Emson's Chair Gym, which I first noted in 2012, sans chair. The site is down, so it's either a 'fast fail' or a secret hit. The item seems pretty niche to me, so I'm guessing it's the former. [ss]
  4.  
  5. REtape. Pitch: "The removable, re-sealable tape for your every need." Comments: I can't imagine anything with less of a reason to exist. This is what you get when you stop your thought process at market size. [ss]
  6.  
  7. Water Snake. Marketer: Telebrands. Producer: Kerrmercials. Pitch: "The super-quick way to wick water away." Comments: Useful product, good spot, dead site. The trouble is that this is one of those things you're unlikely to buy in advance of needing it. Preparedness is the opposite of impulsiveness. [ss]

February 04, 2016

Swurlers

Description: Flexible hair rollers
Main Pitch: "Just twirl, set and swirl, and pop out beautiful waves"
Main Offer: $14.99 for 10 large, 10 small and carrying case
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H), 3 Strap Perfect (free)
Marketer: Allstar
Watch the spot

Allstar is the only DRTV company that has any success with hair these days. Both its "Hot" line and its "Secret" line have had multiple rollouts. This also isn't the first time they have tried a product for making waves. In 2011, they tested Natural Waves, but it didn't roll out despite good results in another channel of sale.

Incidentally, the producer of that commercial (Blue Moon) is the same company that produced Simply Straight, a $40 styling tool that is climbing the charts. If this project fails, then, we'll have to assume the secret to success is making hair straight, not wavy.

S7 Analysis: My last point was facetious, but there may be some truth in it. Only market research could tell us if the market for making hair wavy is significantly smaller than the market for making hair straight. If it is, this one may not be targeted to a big enough buying group.

Strain 7

Description: A multi-function strainer
Main Pitch: "Does the job of seven different kitchen tools"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands (2015 True Top Marketer)
Watch the spot

Telebrands is the only marketer that ever defied my "Swiss Army" rule. The product was Chef Basket, a 12-in-1 kitchen gadget that topped the charts in 2011. Otherwise, the rule is pretty robust and should apply here. In fact, this item was tried years ago under the name Smart Strainer. It didn't work then, and I suspect too many uses was the reason.

On live shopping, which is where this comes from, there's enough time to explain everything this product can do. But accomplishing that in a two-minute format is a much more difficult feat.

S7 Analysis: In this case, it's the needed criterion that gives me pause. There are plenty of good-enough solutions to all of the problems this product solves, most of them in the cabinets and drawers of the average kitchen. While an all-in-one solution might be a better idea, it's always hard to convince people to replace what they already have.

Strength + Tone

Description: Knee and leg sleeves
Main Pitch: "Designed to strengthen, shape and tone, and maximize performance results"
Main Offer: $29.99 for 2 sleeves, 4 resistance rods
Bonus: Free shipping
Brand: Copper Fit
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Blue Reef
Watch the spot

I've already shared my thoughts on taking the Copper Fit brand name and applying it to items that are not compression garments. This is better than a piece of wearable tech in that the item at least looks like a compression sleeve. It's also infused with copper, although that seems like an afterthought.The pitch is also totally different: You wear this particular sleeve to train muscles, not relieve muscle pain.

Putting aside the brand considerations, this is a really innovative product. I don't know that it's a DRTV idea, but it's a cool idea. I wouldn't be surprised if it generated interest.

S7 Analysis: How much of Copper Fit was driven by the copper trend and Tommie Copper's media impressions, and how much was driven by core interest among DRTV buyers? The answer to that question is the answer to whether this item is correctly targeted. If we're talking about older folks, it may also be needed in much the same way resistance bands provide a needed alternative to free weights and workout machines.

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Color Combat. Brand: Battle Balloons. Marketer: Telebrands. Producer: The Schwartz Group. Pitch: "Throw water balloons bursting with color on the inside." Comments: This is a line extension of Balloon Bonanza, now called Battle Balloons. For what it's worth, my inner child thinks this would be a lot of fun. [ss]
  2.  
  3. 35 Below Socks. Marketer: Hampton. Pitch: "The amazing fabric developed for aerospace to keep feet warm and dry in the coldest, most extreme conditions." Comments: Neat idea, but the "cold weather adventure" idea may not resonate well this warm winter. Besides, Punxsutawney Phil says the selling season for this is going to be over soon. [ss]
  4.  
  5. Bralief. Pitch: "Adjustable strap solution enhances fit, provides an instant breast lift and puts a stop to those falling shoulder straps." Comments: This could be considered another attempt to find out if Strap Perfect, a 2009 hit, was an outlier or a category. If there's a market for other bra accessories, this solves enough common problems to tap into it. [ss]
  6.  
  7. Flex Seal Liquid. Starring: Phil Swift. Pitch: "Liquid rubber in a can. Coat, seal and stop leaks fast." Comments: Give Mr. Swift credit for line-extending his one hit as far as it can possibly go. He built an entire business around Flex Seal and somehow manages to keep coming up with new variations -- to his product and to his key magic demo. [ss]
  8.  
  9. Kangarillow. Pitch: "Orthopedic neck support in a pouch." Comments: Anyone who reads this blog knows I am down on pillows these days, so it will come as no surprise that I think a pillow accessory has no shot. [ss]
  10.  
  11. Prestige Light. Pitch: "The cordless LED-powered light that showcases all of your treasures." Comments: This is a very specific solution to a problem I imagine isn't very common. I also suspect that anyone into "showcasing" can afford real lighting solutions. For instance, "poor-man's art gallery" probably isn't a phrase for a reason. [ss]

February 03, 2016

A Panoply of Pans

RED COPPER

Description: A copper-ceramic nonstick pan
Starring: Cathy Mitchell
Marketer: Telebrands
Watch the spot

RED TITAN

Description: A titanium-ceramic nonstick pan
Starring: Cathy Mitchell
Marketer: Telebrands
Watch the spot

COPPER CHEF SQUARE

Description: A (square) copper-ceramic nonstick pan
Starring: Eric Theiss
Marketer: Tristar
Watch the spot

COPPER CHEF 360

Description: A (round) copper-ceramic nonstick pan
Marketer: Tristar
Previously reviewed on: January 28, 2016 (read it here)

GOTHAM STEEL

Description: A titanium-ceramic nonstick pan
Marketer: Emson
Previously reviewed on: November 5, 2015 (read it here)

 

This category got crowded real fast! At first, I didn't even see it as a duel. Emson was pursuing titanium and Tristar was pursuing copper, and the two have different strategies for going to market.

Now Telebrands has entered the mix with a pan to compete with both marketers, and Tristar has introduced a line of pans that includes the square one above. In other words, this competition just blew past duel and became a full-fledged melee.

There's no sense guessing at a winner because, with this many pans in the market, there won't be one.

60 Second Dry Clean

Description: A shirt-refreshing spray
Main Pitch: "The first at-home dry cleaner that can clean any garment in just seconds"
Main Offer: $9.99 for one bottle
Bonus: Double the size (free)
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Watch the spot

This one disappeared from the Internet pretty fast, so it's either a big hit or a 'fast fail.' I'm guessing the latter. Concepts like these aren't meant for pure-play DRTV. The economics don't make sense when an immediate payout is your goal. It's also worth thinking about why P&G doesn't already have a well-known product that does this. Or does it?

S7 Analysis: There are numerous problems with this project from an S7 perspective. Based on the history of similar products, it isn't especially needed. The scenario that opens the spot indicates as much. Speaking of that scenario, it's likely to offend a portion of the target audience (what is this, the 1970s?), which is never good for sales. Finally, the broad category of "laundry aids" is super-crowded at retail.

Insta Egg

Description: A microwave egg cooker
Main Pitch: "Start cooking eggs the quick, easy, healthy way"
Main Offer: $14.99 for one with poacher, steaming grill
Bonus: EZ Scrambler
Marketer: Emson
Watch the spot

This is a new-and-improved version of Egg Genie, a 2009 hit that Emson resurrected in 2013 but that did not make my True Top Spenders for the year. I've done quite a bit of pre-DRTV testing of items similar to this, and all of it indicated there isn't a market opportunity here. But you never know.

S7 Analysis: The big question is whether this will be perceived as different enough to renew interest. Adding the pitch from Egg-Tastic (a 2015 True Top Spender) is an interesting way to attempt it, but the demo happens too late in the commercial to stand out.