June 28, 2009

Goodbye, Billy. I'll miss you.

I'm still deeply shaken by the news, as I’m sure are most of you who knew him. Any statement at this moment seems like an understatement. Perhaps this will come close: After today, the industry will never quite be what it once was.

Much has been written and will be written about Billy Mays the pitchman, the businessman, the reality show star. To many, he was just a caricature of the DRTV style of advertising. But I knew Billy Mays the human being -- and what a great human being he was. On this blog I once wrote: “He is a genuinely nice, humble guy who has one of the smallest egos in the industry.” I meant it.

Although most of our interactions were over business, Billy had a way of making them feel personal and comfortable. It was like you were talking to an old buddy you just happened to be hiring for your project. On the phone, he was always sincere, asking with genuine concern and interest about your life and family. In person, he would greet you with warm recognition, that easy smile and a firm handshake. Despite the wealth and fame, he never lost that down-to-earth, regular guy from Pittsburgh part of himself.

There is more I could write, and yet somehow none of it seems adequate. So for now I'll just say: Goodbye, Billy. I'll miss you.

Out of respect, this blog will not be updated again for the remainder of week. Click here for comments.

June 25, 2009

TeleBrands Profiled in USA Today

The TeleBrands PR machine has scored another big hit. Today, it's the front page of USA Today's Money section.

The report comes with a video (below).

June 24, 2009

Review: CoverMate

Description: Reusable plastic food covers with built-in elastic
Main Pitch: "Stretches to perfectly fit and seal any size or shape dish, bowl, platter or container"
Main Offer: $9.95 for 12 medium and 10 large covers
Bonus: N/A
Marketer: Unknown
Producer: Blue Moon Studios
Website: www.CoverMateFoodCovers.com
Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7
Commercial Rating: Good/Excellent

Two serious flaws with this product: The idea isn't totally unique, and the similar items on the market are from big brands. (Not to mention it looks like a shower cap or one of those hair covers cafeteria workers wear -- not the best association to make when thinking about food).

Big-brand competition is the big problem this product will face. Although the marketer did an excellent job making the packaging look like something Glad would put out, that's a double-edged sword. When people go to their local supermarket, they will find Glad Press'n Seal, not this product, and buy that instead. Or they will buy the same old Glad or Saran Wrap product they've bought countless times before. After all, it's very difficult to change consumer habits and preferences with advertising. And as I've written before, DRTV marketers don't have nearly the budget or time to do it. Plus, this is ultimately a "better than" product, which means it also faces what Harvard professor and author Clayton Christensen described as the "good enough" problem. That is, current products are "good enough" to meet most people's needs.

As you may be able to tell, I don't like this product for DRTV. But as for the DRTV commercial, it's excellent. Readers of this blog will probably have grown tired of my praise for certain production companies, and Blue Moon is certainly one of them. They are especially good at DRTV/branding hybrids (Sullivan Productions is another), as evidenced by all the great work they are doing for Church & Dwight, P&G and others.

I'll close by noting one of those signature lines of which I promised I would start keeping track. Scriptwriters are trying a little too hard to come up with them these days (to comic effect), but Fred Vanore nailed one with this variation on a classic:

"Round or square, big or small, CoverMate fits them all!"

500 DRTV Professionals

The DRTV Professionals group on LinkedIn just hit the 500 members mark.

If you're in the DRTV industry and have any need to network, this is now the group to join. People are using the group to find new vendors or clients, discover new job or business opportunities, find employees and keep track of industry buzz.

Membership is free. All you need to do is create a LinkedIn profile (sort of a dynamic CV) and send the group manager (me) a request to join through the Web site.

June 23, 2009

Review: Smart Thaw

Description: Defrosting tray for meats and poultry
Main Pitch: "The fast and easy way to defrost meats in minutes, not hours"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: Two color-coded knives, four skewers that change color when cooking meat is at the right temperature
Marketer: Unknown
Producer: Unknown
Website: www.SmartThaw.com    

Product (D7) Score: 4 out of 7
Commercial Rating: Good

This item isn't going to work. How do I know? It was one of the first DRTV items I worked on. I clearly remember my excitement when I took it home and ran experiments to see what claims we could make. The outlook for the project was great because we were bringing back an old hit. The original item was called Miracle Thaw. We called ours Jiffy Thaw. It bombed.

Many people believe "old is gold," and sometimes it can be. But other times old is just, well, old. This is one of those cases. Back when Miracle Thaw was a hit (1995), mass market penetration of microwave ovens was still relatively low. Maybe half of American households had one, and the ones people had weren't nearly as fancy as the ones today. They were also expensive. By the time we did Jiffy Thaw, all of that had changed. Today, everyone has a microwave because you can get one for less than a tank of gas -- and it will do an awesome job defrosting meat.

This product also faces a few other challenges. Credibility is one. It's hard to believe a slab of aluminum can do what the commercial says it can do unless you demo it yourself. But the lack of a unsolved problem is the real killer here.

As for the commercial, it is well done. It uses the T&T techniques and the producer did a good job of trying to create problems this product could solve. The offer is also well thought out and has real value. Both the color-coded knives and the thermal skewers have sold well elsewhere. The knives were even tried as their own item.

Ultimately, it will be the product that's responsible for this one flopping. Unfortunately, I know this from personal experience.

June 22, 2009

Review: Flies-Away

Description: A hanging bag that traps flies
Main Pitch: "Stop swatting, shooing and spraying," each trap can "catch and eliminate over 20,000 flies"
Main Offer: $14.95 for two traps
Bonus: A third trap free (just pay shipping and processing)
Marketer: Zoom TV Products
Producer: Unknown
Starring: Billy Mays
Website: www.FliesAway.com
Product (D7) Score: 6 out of 7
Commercial Rating: Good

There's nothing more annoying or disgusting than flies buzzing around your food. They immediately bring to mind excrement, and thinking about that is a sure-fire way to ruin a good barbecue. So I like this item because it solves a real problem ... during the summer. That, of course, is the big weakness here. This item can only do well a few months out of the year.

I'm about to digress, so let me first say a few words about the commercial. I like it. Billy does a solid job as always and even throws in a few fun rhymes ("get the ultimate green invention for your fly prevention!"). The only comment-worthy flaw I saw in the commercial was that an obvious objection wasn't answered. The line that raises the objection: "Within minutes, Flies-Away starts to put out a scent that drives the flies crazy." This is accompanied by animation showing wisps of strong odor coming off the bag and drawing in flies.

Going back to my opening about what flies bring to mind, the first thought I had is the bag must smell like [fill in appropriate expletive], and no one wants to hang a bag of [repeat expletive] near their food. Anyway, it's a simple fix to address that objection if consumers agree with me.

Now, my thoughts on seasonality and DRTV ...

I believe DRTV products shouldn't be seasonal for obvious reasons, not the least of which is that you can't possibly test and scale media, then maximize retail, all in a single season. That inevitably means you're banking on coming back for a strong second season, and I don't like those odds.

Ultimately, the risk with seasonal items is the same risk that occurs when a DRTV marketer isn't prepared to roll out a program (say, because of manufacturing issues) and decides to wait. It's a strange phenomenon, but a hot item can die in as little as three months -- whether you maximize the opportunity or not. I chalk this up to that old adage, "the only constant is change." The marketplace is changing every day, and it's impossible to know what changes will kill your USP, or even just dampen the enthusiasm a product originally generated (which is just as big of a killer in direct-response selling).

That's not to mention that if you find a good solution to a common problem (a key requirement for DRTV success), chances are a dozen other solutions to that problem are preparing to hit the market. It's funny how that works. And if competitors aren't planning when you first launch, they are surely going to start planning when they take notice of your success.

There's also the importance of being "first in the mind," a branding concept introduced by the great Jack Trout and Al Ries. For example, despite several attempts by big-name companies, no one has been able to outsell IdeaVillage's Finishing Touch in the micro-trimmer category or Telebrands' Ped Egg in the foot file category. Why? Because by the time the big guys came in, those DRTV brands had already taken the first position in millions of consumer minds -- and it's very difficult to change a mind with advertising (another Trout and Ries axiom). Seasonal items take a big risk in this regard: Just as the brand is starting to stake a claim in the mind, it disappears until next season.

Despite all of this, several seasonal DRTV items have defied the odds. They started small their first season, disappeared from view and then came back stronger in subsequent seasons. I think of Allstar's Topsy Turvy tomato planter (for the warm weather) and Hampton Direct's Twin Draft Guard (for the cold weather).

That's why although I made "weather proof" one of my criteria for DRTV products, I put it on "The Secondary Seven" list, a list of less-important considerations that complements "The Divine Seven." (You can download a PDF of the full checklist here). I think it's important to review these criteria often to see if any are changing. A decade ago, "weather proof" would have probably topped every DRTV marketer's list.

June 11, 2009

Q&A with John Cammarano

So far I've experimented with guest experts and guest reviewers in an attempt to make the blog even more interesting and relevant to my readers. Well, my next experiment in "mixing it up" is to interview industry players when they have something interesting to say.

Today is my first foray. My subject: John Cammarano, an industry veteran formerly of AdSouth/Vertical Branding (and Think Tek before that), now founder and president of a new venture called Zoom TV Products.

John recently told me about a new DRTV-to-retail initiative he is working on, and I thought it was timely enough to turn into an interview. The number that got my attention: 18,000 new doors. Here's the interview ...

TSR: What led you to leave Vertical Branding and start Zoom TV Products? What is the purpose of this new venture?

Cammarano: Upon the sale of my company AdSouth to Vertical three years ago, I agreed to stay on and develop new items as well as their retail sales. I positioned the Hercules Hook with them first and then Steam Buddy, Zorbeez, the MyPlace laptop table and others. However, I felt the need to embark on another venture where I am the principal because I needed the autonomy to work at a rigorous pace and capitalize on the success of both the industry as a whole compared to overall retail sales.

I have been quite successful in building unique ASOTV endcap programs at retailers such as Staples, Best Buy, Office Depot, Stop & Shop, Pet Smart, Toys "R" Us and several others. After witnessing the success that these retailers have enjoyed after finally reaching outside their normal core assortments, it was apparent that the industry is thriving and in need of new and novel items.

I will be looking to partner with several of the vendors that I have brought into the ASOTV programs in order to allow them to utilize their substantial infrastructure, allowing me to focus on product and campaign development for proprietary and licensed products.

TSR: How does your new retail program work?

Cammarano: What I have done is positioned the program with the retailer in a way that affords them filtered knowledge and historical data for all current items. The information that we provide allows them to simply lean on one primary vendor or category captain that also maintains the trust of all the vendors. I negotiate the terms with the retailer, build a virtual set and obtain a green light from the vendors and retailers alike, then monitor the weekly sales, watches sales trends and look for anomalies, suggest in-and-out promotions; for example, Staples and Snuggies. It was a huge success and now fourth quarter is already planned out.

The industry players have really rallied behind the program because we have reached retailers that historically never merchandised these types of items. Finally, in their quest for incremental sales, they have realized that there are several demographic crossovers regardless of their core assortments.

TSR: Will the chains take any product, or does it have to be something that fits their theme (e.g. pet supplies)?

Cammarano: I try to cater the program ever so slightly. For example, the Toys "R" Us build was very female oriented whereas the Best Buy build was almost all male-oriented items due to their young male demo.

TSR: Can any DRTV company participate? If so, how do they get involved?

Cammarano: Any TV vendor can participate. However, I try to select viable vendors that will always be there with consistent campaigns as well as the financial wherewithal to support any potential clean up or product discontinuance. And even more important, shipping on time is monumental.

TSR: What led you to pursue this new strategy?

Cammarano: Simply put, it was an opportunity that needed to be capitalized on. Specific retailers were struggling due to economic issues that forced them to seek incremental sales. To date, we are currently servicing over 18,000 doors that have never sold these types of items before because there was never an orchestrated program that allowed the retailer to merchandise them all together. In the past, vendors would present to individual category buyers, so products were splintered and merchandised across the store. But they didn't enjoy the success they do when the program is housed in one location, managed by one buyer and one category captain that is an industry insider.

I should mention I couldn't have done any of this without the support of Nancy [Duitch] and the team at Vertical Branding. Their support was undying.

As I said, this new interview feature is an experiment, so please let me know what you think of it (or John's interview) by using the comments link below.

Collette Responds

Two of the spots John Miller and Peter Hutton reviewed last week, the Pedi Pistol and the Bendi Brush, were produced by Collette Liantonio's Concepts TV. Collette has a long history of DRTV successes going back three decades. Recent hits include EZ Combs, Wonder Hanger, Twin Draft Guard and Pro Caulk.

In my preface to last week's guest reviews, I alluded to the fact that there are a group of DRTV professionals I like and respect enough to let "guest blog" for me. I count Collette among them.

Anyway, I bring this up because Collette has posted a response to last week's reviews. Since such comments don’t get distributed via FeedBurner, I thought it only fair to link to it here.

June 09, 2009

Keeping Score: January 2009

Here are the four items I reviewed in January 2009, including the outcomes and my thoughts:

Description: Cordless automatic food slicer with detachable tray that catches as it cuts, from the makers of the One Touch Can Opener
Date Reviewed: January 27 (full review)
Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7
Commercial Rating: Good
Not on the charts

Back in January, I wrote that "although this item does meet five of the D7 criteria, it fails in two critical categories for this type of item. The first is uniqueness. That's because there's been a glut of slicer/dicers lately ... The second is credibility. A cordless power slicer for $20? Too good to be true. When it comes to items with blades, people are especially skeptical." It seems my assessment was correct.

Description: Floor care kit for hard surface floors (wood, tile, vinyl, etc.), pitched by Anthony Sullivan
Date Reviewed:
January 28 (full review)
Product (D7) Score: 6 out of 7
Commercial Rating: Good/Excellent
Not on the charts (appeared on Jordan Whitney for a while)

"[T]his is one of those times when a 6 out of 7 score is deceiving because this commercial is highly unlikely to pay out," I wrote about this item. The "fatal flaw" I identified was that "similar floor care kits are everywhere." However, I allowed that the marketers "may have some other business model in mind" because the spot was "a solid brand-support commercial."

Description: A manual chopper that cuts when you "slap" the plunger at the top, pitched by Vince Offer of ShamWow! fame
Date Reviewed:
January 28 (full review)
Product (D7) Score: 6 out of 7
Commercial Rating: Excellent!
No. 16 on the IMS Top 50 (appeared on Jordan Whitney for a while)

I have always been impressed with Vince's throwback style. People thought I was crazy when I predicted that ShamWow! would be a success. And back then, I can kind of understand why. A better pitchman was already in the market with an identical product, and the production quality of Vince's commercial wasn't nearly as slick as the competition.

Well, Vince hasn't changed much, and here again I didn't spare the praise: "Everyone in the DRTV industry should pay careful attention to what Vince Offer is doing," I wrote. He is "living proof that the fundamentals of DR remain unchanged." That was the commercial. As for the product, I liked it but worried about its small size versus larger competitors (e.g. the Vidalia Chop Wizard). I also wondered if it might be perceived as "different" but "not unique" given that similar choppers had been around for years. But at the end of the day, Vince's quirky style and cult following proved more than enough to overcome these weaknesses.

Description: A digital calorie tracker
Date Reviewed:
January 28 (full review)
Product (D7) Score: 5 out of 7
Commercial Rating: Good
Not on the charts

This is another 5 out of 7 item that failed in the critical categories, namely that it was "far from unique" and that it targeted too narrow a market: calorie counters only. "Sure, the diet market is huge, but there are easily as many carb counters as calorie counters these days," I explained. "Dieters also like to keep track of their fat intake, but this item won't help them with that." As for the uniqueness of the product, a quick search at that time yielded "dozens of different calorie counters" that came "in all shapes, sizes and price points." Entering such a crowded category is always risky, and this campaign's absence from the charts is a good example of why.

June 08, 2009

Six Current Hits

Before I officially launch my new version of this feature, I need to do some housekeeping and post about a few items that fell through the cracks. These are items that debuted last year in fourth quarter, items for which I never held myself accountable. Several of these items appear to be hits, and several of these same items did not get good reviews from me. So here goes: A little crow appetizer before I tackle January.

Description: A shoe organizer designed like a dresser drawer with a clear cover that zippers closed
Date Reviewed: September 17 (full review)
Product (D7) Score: 6 out of 7
Commercial Rating: Good
No. 6 on the Jordan Whitney, No. 48 on IMS

OK, so I led with one I got right. Then again, betting on AJ and Telebrands in the shoe category isn't exactly going out on a limb.

Description: A closet space-saving device
Date Reviewed: October 22 (full review)
Product (D7) Score: 6 out of 7
Commercial Rating: Good
No. 9 on the Jordan Whitney, No. 49 on IMS

I swear I did not front-load this with items I got right. This just happened to be the next hit from Q4 on the latest Jordan Whitney.

Description: Two combs connected by a decorative netting
Date Reviewed: October 30 (full review)
Product (D7) Score: 6 out of 7
Commercial Rating: Good
No. 12 on the Jordan Whitney, No. 37 on IMS

Check yourself! It's next on the JW. What can I say? Telebrands was on a hot streak, and I could tell.

Description: A triangular tool that makes edging easier
Date Reviewed: October 30 (full review)
Product (D7) Score: 4 out of 7
Commercial Rating: Good
No. 27 on the Jordan Whitney, not on the IMS

OK, now we're getting to it. After three in a row, it seems I blew it on this one. I probably should have known better given that my DRTV "alma mater," IdeaVillage, launched the EdgeMaster back in the day.

Description: Hair-volumizing inserts
Date Reviewed: November 14 (full review)
Product (D7) Score: 3 out of 7
Commercial Rating: OK
No. 24 on the IMS, not on the Jordan Whitney

Ouch. Shows what I know about fashion. It turns out Jersey "high hair," something ladies would have made fun of a few years ago, is now in. I still contend that when "style is involved" the odds of DRTV success decrease because "it's difficult to create a product that appeals to everyone's tastes." But in this case, Allstar hit the trend exactly right. Bumpits is hot!  

Description: A stainless steel water bottle
Date Reviewed: September 17 (full review)
Product (D7) Score: 4 out of 7
Commercial Rating: OK
No. 47 on the IMS, not on the Jordan Whitney

This one is on the borderline of what I consider a hit, since it has only ever been on the IMS and it sits near the bottom of the chart. However, if you had asked me back when I reviewed this if it had any shot, I would have said no. My comments from the review reflect this attitude: "Most people are more than happy with their bottled water, as evidenced by the continued strong sales in the category." And, "studies show most consumers aren't motivated by environmental concerns." And, "Toxic water bottles? Far fetched ... 'prevention doesn't sell.' "

It seems I was wrong on at least one of these counts, and possibly all of them. I intend to keep my eye on this one to see how it fares the rest of the year and at retail. The reason? If it ends up being one of the year's big items, at least one of my long-held theories (prevention doesn't sell, green stuff alone isn't enough) needs to be reconsidered.

New(ish) Feature: Keeping Score

Recently, I got to thinking (always dangerous). It had been a while since I posted my last "bona-fide hits" update, and I was preparing to write the new one. As I did, I kept wondering about the items that I had really liked but hadn't seen on the charts.

What about that particular item I gave a glowing "7 out of 7!" or that commercial I thought was "Excellent!" Whatever happened to those items? That's when I realized I had no system in place for keeping track of such items.

Remembering all the items that looked good, but failed to achieve, is important for at least three reasons:

1. So we, as DRTV marketers, can learn from other people's marketing mistakes and avoid repeating them.

2. So we can develop a sense of what products and categories don't seem to work well in DRTV, at least not at the present moment.

3. So we can remain humble and remember that for all of our expertise, sure-fire systems and gut feelings, we are wrong more often than we are right.

With that said, I am introducing a new feature today called "Keeping Score," an expanded version of "Bona-Fide Hits." I'm also changing the methodology a bit. Rather than look at three or six months and pick out the hits, I will go back to a certain month (at least 90 days prior), list all of the items I reviewed and then quickly update you on how they turned out, according to the charts.

If I get to crow, I will crow (a little). If I have to eat crow, I will eat crow. Then, I will explain why I think things turned out the way they did. As always, your thoughts and comments will be welcome.

Tomorrow: January 2009.

June 04, 2009

Guest Review: Bendi Brush

Description: Styling brush that bends in or out to style your hair while you blow it dry
Main Pitch: "Bend your hair with the flick of a wrist"
Main Offer: $10 buy one, get one free
Bonus: Twisty Towel
Website: www.BendiBrush.com

By John Miller & Peter Hutton (more)

The key question for this product is: What’s the difference between the Bendi Brush and a regular brush? With so many brushes on the market and so many places to buy them, this product needs to tell the viewer, at every opportunity, why it’s unique. There’s only one reference to other brushes in the spot and that happens too late to have any impact. However, we feel there is a uniqueness to the Bendi Brush and, like the EZ Combs or Bumpits, it may have some legs as a DR item. 

Having done the Conair Quick Braid, the IGIA IonAir Hair Dryer and Brush-N-Color, we’ve learned that women have a very personal relationship with their hair and hair-care products. It takes a great effort to get a woman to change what she is currently doing to volumize, straighten, curl, flip and detangle her hair. Asking her to switch to the Bendi Brush is asking a lot. However, we felt that if the product does all that it says it does, it could realistically replace an entire drugstore full of hair sprays, lotions, shampoos and treatments, and that gives it some perceived value beyond just a brush.  

The commercial touches lightly on so many things that the Bendi Brush can do for your hair, it really never focuses on the one thing that it does really well – and we still don’t know what that is. Therefore, we felt it lacked a position and a category. One thing we picked up on late in the spot is that it helps dry your hair 50 percent faster. That’s cool!  

We liked the airflow netting and felt that there might be an opportunity to create a point of differentiation there. “Unlike ordinary roll brushes that make you rotate the hair around the brush to dry it, taking forever, the Bendi Brush’s unique air-flow netting … lets the air pass through and dries the hair 50 percent faster for you!” Maybe that could have been the position.  

As we watched the spot, we kept waiting for it to stick to one clear and concise message.

We also wanted this item to be from a “tell it like it is” hairdresser. Your hair stylist knows what’s best for you and your hair! And the commercial needed more side-by-side before and after results. By the end of the commercial, we did not believe you could get the results shown without going to the salon. In other words, we thought few people would believe that, armed with just a Bendi Brush and a blow dryer, they could get those looks by themselves.  

As for the commercial’s offer and price, we felt they were compelling and liked the add-on of the hair twist. But what we really wanted was a blow dryer.  

In closing, we like the product. If it had a solid position, we think it might have a chance!

Our problem: As we start to review spots, we tend to redo them in our minds. In all reality, this might be a very successful spot. As they say, “there’s more than one way to …”

June 03, 2009

Guest Review: Yoshi Blade

Description: Ceramic knife that’s sharper and longer lasting than steel
Main Pitch: "40 percent sharper than steel"
Main Offer: $19.95 for one, all-purpose ceramic knife
Bonus: Ceramic Peeler (just pay S&H)
Website: www.YoshiBlade.com

By John Miller & Peter Hutton (more)

Ceramic knives are a hot category right now with a high-perceived value.  The Yoshi Blade looks like a good entry into this category and the inclusion of the bonus ceramic peeler is compelling.  What’s critical in selling this product is really separating it from the other knives that have been marketed in the past.  With so many competing knives out there already offered with high piece counts, the only chance this item is going to have is real emphasis on the ceramic blade.

The commercial does attempt to do this but the message seems to get lost in a flurry of rapid edits and an excess number of facts that overwhelm the first 20 seconds of the spot; e.g., “40 percent sharper,” “10 times longer,” “1,400 degrees.”  There is no established problem with old-fashioned steel knives. The commercial just jumps right into split screens and loosely arranged copy points.

(Note to all producers: Claiming a product is “space age” doesn’t have the same impact as it did 30 years ago. It’s probably safe to officially retire that phrase from DRTV once and for all.)   

There is also too much demonstration with the same professional chef (removing his wedding ring might have helped de-emphasize that the majority of shots featured the same pro). We would love to have seen some everyday moms using the Yoshi Blade with more contrast to the old way of cutting.

The strongest demo happens when a knife sharpener is actually destroyed by the Yoshi Blade. Unfortunately, this demo isn’t paid off with a practical sharpness application, like easily cutting through hard crunchy bread or something.  More demos like this one should have been included to create some more memorable moments.   

There was also a missed opportunity to turn the potentially negative point that Yoshi Blade is only one knife into a positive one. Perhaps “say goodbye to a drawer or counter full of dull knives … Yoshi Blade takes up no space and does the work of all these knives.” 

Overall, this spot is a decent effort but falls short of making the impact that it could. While it does a good job at highlighting the features of a ceramic blade, it does very little to show a prospective buyer why these features will make life in the kitchen any easier.   

All that said, there hasn’t really been a successful single knife sold on TV since the Ginsu. Without offering a full set of Yoshi Blades, the marketers are fighting an uphill battle.

June 01, 2009

Guest Review: Pedi Pistol

Description: Home pedicure tool with extra long reach and five different heads that do everything from remove calluses to polish your toenails
Main Pitch: "Salon perfect pedicures without bending or straining"
Main Offer: $19.95 for the motorized tool (no batteries) and five attachments
Bonus: Second unit plus Miracle Foot Repair Cream (just pay separate S&H)
Website: www.PediPistol.com

By John Miller & Peter Hutton (more)

As far as home pedicure systems are concerned, this product is unique in its shape and design. But that’s where the uniqueness ends.

First of all, this is not really a problem or, more to the point, this offered solution isn’t really a solution. The commercial still shows everyone extending their arms (dare we say “stretching”) to reach their toes. This product is really only saving you a few extra inches. In other words (no groans please), this solution is a ‘stretch.’

Another big concern for us is the name. Would anyone really want to pedicure his or her feet with a pistol?! Sounds borderline dangerous, particularly when coupled with the dentist drill sound it makes. A better name would have been something tied into the positioning, like “Pedi Reach.”

The testimonials lack credibility overall and are not really complementing the commercial. We’re pretty sure that the last thing a woman who is nine months pregnant wants to do is her own pedicure.

Finally, and most significantly, do people truly believe that they can give themselves a ‘professional’ pedicure at home? This whole process looks complicated, and the results look difficult to achieve. With five different attachments, we suspect this is going to appear pretty intimidating to the end user.

It’s no secret that the Ped Egg was one of the biggest DR hits of all time. The product solved a unique, real problem, and it looked easy to use. This product does not solve a unique problem, and it certainly doesn’t look easy to use.

Our gut feeling: We’re pretty sure Pedi Pistol is going to shoot blanks.