November 19, 2010


After livin' on the edge for a while, Trojan has released a new spot for their Vibrating Tri-Phoria. Not sure why the guy at the end is so excited, but I like the catch-phrase. Suh-weet!

November 18, 2010

Weekly Round-Up

It's bad out there ... but that hasn't stopped DRTV marketers from launching more items than I have time to review. Here's a round-up of the latest:

  1. Ab Radical. Pitch: "The radically fast way to tone your abs anywhere." Comments: The Website is already down, so I guess we know the outcome. Abs is one of those great categories that delivers one big hit per year, but a dozen other products crash and burn. [a]

  2. Beauty Cups. Pitch: "The new strapless bra cups that fit you perfectly, can add a cup size and are a fraction of the cost of a regular bra." Comments: Telebrands had some success with a product called Natural Bra a few years ago, but I don't think the concept will play as well today. Plus, the product isn't as good as that one was. [a]

  3. Bungee. Pitch: "Let your lost items find you" with this "virtual lost and found." Marketer: Telebrands. Comments: This is a bit too complicated for DR. More important, it's prevention and prevention ... [a]

  4. Celeb Curls. Pitch: "Work like magic to transform your look from drab to fab." Marketer: Emson. Comments: The "look like a celebrity" pitch is way too tired and obvious to work today. Moreover, I can't think of a single hair curling product that has worked on DRTV. Feel free to post a comment and remind me of one. [a]

  5. Charge Buddy. Pitch: "Has four USB ports, so you can charge four devices at the same time." Comments: A tech-oriented commercial featuring young kids and teens is not a recipe for success in DRTV. It's just a matter of demographics. The majority of DRTV buyers don't have young kids or teens, and they don't use a lot of gadgets. Oh, and the price of this is $29.95? Prediction: Bomb.  [a]

  6. Memory Paw. Pitch: "Now you can honor the memory of your cherished pet." Marketer: Telebrands. Comments: Another site that is already down. I like the "emotional blackmail" approach (HT: Fred V.), but you still need to solve a problem to be successful in the pet category. [a]

  7. Bell +Howell Micro-Cam. Pitch: "One of the world's smallest DV camcorders." Marketer: Emson. Comments: A tech item for three payments of $19.95? Prediction: Bomb. [a]

  8. Nail Wow. Pitch: "The nail design that goes on fine every time" Comments: Amateur hour. Prediction: Bomb. [a]

  9. Sunny Seat. Pitch: "The (cat) bed you put on your window." Comments: I didn't make it past the part where it mounts to glass windows or doors using "industrial strength suction cups." Most DRTV products solve a problem. This one could actually create one. [a]

  10. Skedaddle. Pitch: "The pet-friendly way to keep pets off the furniture." Marketer: SAS Group. Producer: Blue Moon Studios. Comments: I like this one. First there was Bark Off; now there's "Keep Off!" If it works, this will be the second time someone discovered a strange dichotomy in the marketplace. Ontel was the first with Cami Secret, since it appears both enhancing cleavage and hiding it are winning ideas on DRTV. [a]

Review: Dual Diamond Scrubber

Description: A scrubbing sponge
Main Pitch: One side "scours like a steel-wool pad" while the other side "lifts, traps and removes food, dirt and grime"
Main Offer: $10 for four plus a "mega size" and dusting mitt
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay shipping)
Starring: Joe Campanelli
Marketer: Merchant Media
Producer: The Schwartz Group
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

There's nothing wrong with this commercial. I even applaud the attempt at a new approach (more on this later). It's the product I think has zero shot. For one thing, Ontel already tried it. For another, scrubbing sponges are a common item at stores across America. That means this is a "better than" product pitch, and that makes the odds of success very low.

As for the commercial, I like the technique of using a skeptical "everywoman" ("Judy") to play off the pitchman. I hope the creative team will use it again.

Review: Swivel Store

Description: A swiveling spice rack
Main Pitch: "Conveniently keeps all your spices in less than four inches of space"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar & Merchant Media
Producer: Blue Moon Studios
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

If I didn't know the history of this category, I would probably declare this campaign "likely to succeed." After all, the product meets my criteria and the commercial is, of course, solid. It's the category that's the killer for me.

In its broadest sense, the category is "organization." We know some organizational items always do well on DRTV. Closet organizers are one. Shoe organizers are another. But in the kitchen, it's a different story. With the exception of Smart Spin, I can't think of an item that has been successful. (And half the story with Smart Spin was the huge value: The current offer is 98 pieces for $19.99!)

In many ways, I think the market for organizational items is like the market for "germaphobe" items or "green" items. There are millions of people out there who are passionate about killing germs, saving the planet or organizing their cabinets and drawers. But using national DRTV media to reach them is like using a shotgun to hit a fly. It's just not efficient.

Put another way, I believe the mass market is closer to the Oscar Madison end of the spectrum than the Felix Ungar end, and that this sort of product will only get the Ungars of the world excited enough to buy on impulse. (Under 30? Click here now.) That's my theory, anyway. It's quite possible that when it comes to using spices, the activity is so common that organization is a pressing concern. In other words, spices could be like shoes or closets. I guess we'll find out.

On a side note, this commercial gave me a new DRTV catch-phrase to add to my collection:

"Turns any cluttered mess into an organized success."

It's a great line I've heard enough times now to declare a keeper!

November 16, 2010

Review: My T Driver

Description: A screwdriver with super-torque
Main Pitch: "Allows anyone to drive screws effortlessly into virtually any surface"
Main Offer: $19.95 for one
Bonus: Belt pack (just pay P&H)
Starring: Bart Baldwin
Producer: Meltzer Media
Marketer: Harvest Direct
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

This campaign meets most of my criteria. The product is different and solves a problem, and the creative is well done. So why the negative prediction? It's the category. With the exception of Bit Shooter, which had a ridiculous premium (a free power drill), I can't think of a successful short-form campaign for a tool of this kind. I think that's because at retail, there are so many varieties of screwdriver available.

I also think it's tough to find success with an item that downgrades from power to manual. This hasn't worked well in other categories (e.g. Kitchen King Pro, a manual food processor, never caught on), and I don't think it will work well in this category.

Review: Walkie Way

Description: A dog collar with a built-in retractable leash
Main Pitch: "The first ever all-in-one leash and collar"
Main Offer: As low as $19.95
Bonus: LCD safety light, ID holder
Starring: Nikki Moustaki, author and pet trainer
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Although I see a lot to like here, I'm pretty sure I've seen this type of product before and it has been tested. I just can't remember the details. More important, the price is going to be a problem. The only version of this product that's $19.95 is the extra small. The small is $29.95, and the medium is $39.95. That means the consumer's answer to my biggest question about this campaign -- Is a quick leash needed enough to buy on impulse? -- will most likely be a "no."

Also, I question whether the spot does a good enough job of engaging people. It takes a long time to get to what I think is the main problem/solution here: "controlling your dog" quickly and no longer "fumbling to get a leash attached." The opening VO touches on this idea, but the visual doesn't reinforce it or make it clear. And the secondary problem in the opening -- "searching for a leash when it's time for your dog to go" -- doesn't seem like it would be a common problem for most people.

November 14, 2010

Review: IncrediBelt

Description: An adjustable belt for women
Main Pitch: "Slides and clicks for a perfect fit no matter what style you're wearing"
Main Offer: $14.95 for one in black with silver buckle
Bonus: 2nd one in brown with gold buckle (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Blue Moon Studios
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

A few years ago, Ontel launched a similar product called Slim Belt. Since it never made my "bona-fide hits" list, it seems it wasn't a hit. This product is pitched differently, but much of the core problem/solution stuff is the same. So my guess is this product will meet the same fate as its predecessor. Or is this more like Telebrands' Perfect Fit Button, which I didn't like either but seems to have done well?

Interestingly, this might be a better product for men. We're the ones who are known for adjusting our belts, especially after a big meal. And "plumber's crack" is a much bigger problem in our society than what a woman might accidentally show. However, men are only mentioned at the very end of this commercial. That means this could be one of those cases where positioning, one of the three things I believe can significantly impact a CPO, might make all the difference.

Turbie Twist: Old Gold?

Original Hit Year: 2000 (No. 25 on the JW Annual)
Original Marketer: Smart Inventions
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

This is a commodity item now, and it's clear that whoever is pursuing this DR strategy isn't planning to get a payout. (At least I hope not.) I'm guessing this is brand support for the stores that carry the product (e.g. Bed Bath & Beyond).

November 11, 2010

Review: Ready Reacher

Description: A telescoping "grabber"
Main Pitch: "The incredible, extendable handy helper that grabs and gets what you can't get to"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: Upgrade to deluxe version with light, then double the offer (just pay P&H)
Starring: Anthony Sullivan
Marketer: Ontel Products
Producer: Sullivan Productions
Prediction: Likely to succeed

I like this one. The campaign meets almost all of my S7 criteria. The only questionable one is needed -- as in, "Is this needed enough to succeed?" Sully and the team hit on all the right possibilities, so this one is entirely up to the consumer.

Ontel has a good track record in this category (see Gopher), so the odds are in their favor.

November 03, 2010

SciMark Report from October Response

Last month's SciMark Report in print is now available on the Response Website. Reviews include: Dropps, Banjo Blade and Clean Beam. [a]