June 29, 2011

Review: Razor Rx

Description: A device that cleans and hones razors
Main Pitch: "Get more than 150 smooth, clean, comfortable shaves from every blade"
Main Offer: $9.99 for one
Bonus: Rx micro-trimmer (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Product Strategies
Producer: PBandJ Partners
Website: www.RazorRx.com
Prediction: On the Fence

First, the good news. According to a recent email I received from PBandJ, this campaign was "selected from over 6000 entries by The International Academy of Visual Arts to receive a 2011 Communicator Award." Congratulations to Peter Aronow and team.

Moving on, for years I believed the high cost of razors was a major issue for America. I had good reason: A main pitch for Titanium Turbo, an inexpensive electric razor I helped launch, was that it saved you money on razors. That item was a TV success, reaching No. 13 on the Jordan Whitney in 2005. I also observed the apparent success of Infinity Razor in 2007 and Save-A-Blade in 2008.

But today, after understanding the category better and what happened with those earlier "successes" -- as well as failing with another razor-saving idea and observing the failure of similar ideas -- I no longer believe America cares enough about the price of razors to sustain a campaign. Maybe the "Great Recession" has changed that, but I'm doubtful.

That said, this product has a lot going for it, including a low-risk price, so perhaps people will buy it to try it. The copy of MicroTouch as a bonus won't hurt, either.

Review: Switch Brite

Description: A stick-up light that looks like a switch
Main Pitch: "Just peel, stick and flip the switch"
Main Offer: $10.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay processing) plus free gift
Starring: Anthony Sullivan
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Sullivan Productions
Website: www.SwitchBrite.com
Prediction: On the Fence

This is a unique product and a great idea with a plausible reason for being. From 2006-2007, Telebrands had a hit with the light-bulb corrollary to this idea: Stick-Up Bulb was No. 28 on the Jordan Whitney in 2007. That same year and next, IdeaVillage also had succcess with Handy Switch, a remote-control light switch pitched by the late, great Billy Mays. (Speaking of which, one concern I have with the commercial is whether people will understand this is not a switch for an existing light, it is the light.)

Anyway, despite liking the item, I'm not bullish on its success. The reason, as I've written before, is the lighting category has a terrible track record of late. Telebrands alone has had three recent strike-outs by my reckoning: Light Headed, Hex Light and Flashlight Man. This one is the best of the lot, but it just may not be the right environment for a lighting item.

On a side note, for those keeping track, Telebrands is now using three unique techniques in its offers: a $10.99 price point, "find out about free shipping" and a suprise gift. I have no idea if any of that helps improve response, but they are doing it on every commercial they test these days.

Review: Garden Thug

Description: A pruning tool
Main Pitch: "The heavy duty muscle in a lightweight design"
Main Offer: $19.95 for one
Bonus: Free Amber Vision protective eyewear
Website: www.GardenThug.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Truly bizarre! This product for seniors is pitched using a rap video featuring a white grandma acting like a "gansta" (see below). It's sure to generate social-media buzz but, like all campaigns designed this way, also sure to deliver very few sales.

On a side note, I do like the idea of closing with "risk free" instead of a hard offer, especially when ultimate price is only $19.99. It's something worth testing. Also noted is the use of Telebrands' old Amber Vision brand on a pair of protective glasses. With IdeaVillage's HD Vision brand on its third successful line extension, it might not be as crazy an idea as it first appears.

June 26, 2011

Hey, It's My Blog!

In case you aren't already bored to death by posts about my involvement in Lenfest's Discovery Day, here's a link to the Philadelphia Inquirer coverage.

Last one, I promise -- unless someone does a really, really special piece where a photo of my good side is prominently featured ...

June 25, 2011

Weekly Round-Up

Cleaning out my folder, I found 15 items I hadn't blogged about before. Some are no longer live online, but here they are for posterity:

  1. Glamour Curls. Pitch: "The fun, easy way to curl your hair." Marketer: Telebrands. Producer: Monte-Brooks. Comments: Definitely one of the more bizarre-looking products I've seen lately! In any case, the "Hollywood glamour" pitch has been tried many times before in the hair category. So unless neon dreadlocks are the next hair trend, I don't see this one taking off. [a]
  2. Grass Gator Rampage. Marketer: National Express. Pitch: "Takes all the hassle out of trimming." Comments: It seems one of these launches every summer. There must be a market in there somewhere, and I have no idea how to evaluate whether this is right for it. [a]
  3. Grout Bully. Producer: Bluewater Media. Pitch: "Cleans, renews, design grout on contact." Comments: I've been down this road twice before. It's a dead end. [a]
  4. Hair Glider. Pitch: "Untangles tough to brush hair for that salon smooth look." Comments: I like Telebrands' version of this concept better. [a]
  5. Herschel Walker 360X. Pitch: "New workout that will give you results Herschel Walker style." Marketer: Allstar. Comments: This came and went quickly. The site is already down. But I remember thinking this push-up mat designed with Herschel's brand of fitness in mind had a decent shot.
  6. Jewel Spool. Pitch: "The retractable [clasp] that lets you slip any chain over your head." Marketer: Allstar. Comments: IdeaVillage's Clever Clasp, a magnetic version of this idea, had a nice run in 2007. This is a bulkier solution, and it appears it didn't get off the ground.
  7. Kollar Guard. Pitch: "Knock out ring-around-the-collar for good." Comments: Pretty sure Wisk solved this problem in the 1970s. By the way, I have a great idea for a product: A device that allows you to create facsimiles of documents and send them over the phone. Pretty cool, huh? [a]
  8. Magic Mesh. Pitch: "The new type of screen door that opens easily and then magically closes itself behind you." Marketer: Allstar. Producer: Producers Direct. Comments: Should do well in season, but seasonal items are always hard to manage. [a]
  9. Press X-Press. Pitch: "The amazing ironing pad that holds clothes tight so you can iron right in half the time." Marketer: Allstar. Producer: Opfer Communications. Comments: Neat item with some pretty cool demos, but the site is already down. [a]
  10. Rest-n-Roll. Pitch: "The world's most convenient store and go solution." Comments: Amateur hour, and ultimately way too expensive for DRTV. Prediction: Bomb. On the other hand, their inventors' page does claim they are the "leader in DRTV markting and sales," so maybe I should reconsider? [a]
  11. Restorz It. Pitch: "The amazing once-a-year car treatment that restores, polishes and protects the finish on any car." Starring: Joe Fowler. Marketer: Simoniz USA. Comments: Joe needs to take a breath once in a while! Otherwise, I have no comment. Pretty standard fare for this category, and it seems these campaigns are more about brand support. [a]
  12. Roto-Peel. Pitch: "The three-in-one peeler ... [that] peels, slice and juliennes." Starring: Steve Harkey. Marketer: Miracle Blade/Sylmark. Producer: Dynamic TV Marketing. Comments: Interesting product, but I think it falls into the "Swiss Army Knife" trap. [a]
  13. Shoo Bug. Pitch: "Tag on. Bug off!" Comments: Cool product that's definitely different. I also like the playground testimonials. However, it takes almost a minute to understand the product and establish its credibility -- not good when America has been trained to have 30-second attention spans. [a]
  14. Silver Sonic Micro. Pitch: "Smaller than the latest cell phone technology." Marketer: Bell & Howell/Emson. Comments: Unlikely to sell well direct, but makes sense to support the brand at retail. [a]
  15. Slim Seat. Pitch: "Sit on your butt and get rid of your gut." Starring: Jaime Brenkus. Comments: I like this one because I think it taps into the same idea that fueled Fitness Quest's Ab Lounge. Call it "lazy fitness," which is the dream for most DRTV buyers. [a]

June 24, 2011

A Few More Seconds of Fame

More coverage of Lenfest's Discovery Day. This time you actually see my face!

June 23, 2011

In The News

ABC is all over our industry!

On Wednesday, the ABC affiliate in Philadelphia covered Lenfest Media Group's Discovery Day, where I served as a judge. Along with live shopping guru and on-air personality Scott Hynd, Lenfest's Andy McKinley and Mark Reyland from the United Inventors Association of America (UIA), I helped evaluate more than 30 products and determine their suitability for DRTV. In the "Action News" video above, you can just make out the side of my head at one point. Guess that's another five seconds off my 15 minutes of fame!

Meanwhile, earlier this week, the multi-talented Arwen Saxon of Sullivan Productions got some "Action News" attention of her own down in St. Pete for the off-beat spot below. No comment on the product!

And last but not least, ABC gave national coverage to AJ's most recent "Inventor's Day" in Chicago. In case you missed the June 17 20/20 show, it's available on YouTube in two parts, here and here. Arwen's "Happy Hot Dog Man" is included.

June 21, 2011

Review: Miracle Slippers

Description: Gel slippers
Main Pitch: "Anti-fatigue gel slippers that soothe, relieve and energize"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one pair plus Miracle Foot Repair
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Ontel
Producer: Concepts TV
Website: www.MiracleSlippers.com
Prediction: Likely to succeed

It's easy to see how this product could be a hit. As it turns out, Snuggie is a category, and that category is "comfortware." Follow-on hits such as Forever Lazy and Pajama Jeans are the proof. I think slippers fit right in, and DRTV history supports the idea. Five years ago, Tristar had a nice run with Comfort Pedic Slippers, which is this product in memory foam. Using anti-fatigue gel to bring back the concept is just smart DR thinking. As for the spot, I really like the "dropped egg" comparison. Those main demos just keep getting more creative!

Review: Samurai Pro

Description: A knife sharpener
Main Pitch: "Sharpen your knives like new in seconds ... Just lock, draw and cut"
Main Offer: $10 for one with Cut 'N Cook DVD
Bonus: Samurai Shears (just pay separate S&P)
Starring: Chef Robert Irvine
Marketer: SAS Group
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Website: www.BuySamuraiPro.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Several knife sharpeners have been attempted in the last couple of years. Furi tested its Ozitech. Tristar tested a product very similar to this one called Kleva Sharp. And IdeaVillage tested a three-channel knife sharpener, Ready Sharp, under the Ronco brand just last month. None of these knife sharpeners appears to have worked, and I see no reason why this one will be the exception. I do like the adjustability of the sharpening blades and the safety of the suction cup, but it seems unlikely either will matter enough to consumers for this product to break through.

As for the commercial, it's pretty standard fare -- tomato demo and all. The spokesman is a point of difference, but I'm not sure enough people know who Chef Irvine is outside of Food channel devotees for it to make a difference. All in all, a solid attempt, but that doesn't seem to be enough where this category is concerned.

SciMark Report from June Response

My SciMark Report for June is now available on the Response Website. Reviews include: Whip-It, Instant Plumber and Grill Dini. [a]

June 16, 2011

Review: Fridge Locker

Description: A lockbox for food
Main Pitch: "The easy to use personal, portable food security system"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay separate S&P)
Starring: Anthony Sullivan
Marketer: Hunter Newbury
Producer: Sullivan Productions
Website: www.FridgeLocker.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

The pitch and spot are solid, but the product is a classic 'solution in search of a problem.' It would be a funny prop for an episode of The Office -- and may get some good buzz as a result -- but very few people are likely to buy it.

Ironically, I have the same feeling about this product as I had about Telebrands' Light Headed: It would probably do well at Spencer Gifts.

Side note: I loved the grizzly bear demo. Very creative!

Review: Tidy Twist

Description: A spool for power cords
Main Pitch: "The fast and easy way to wrap and organize all your cables"
Main Offer: $10 for a set of four
Bonus: Eight more (just pay P&H), 15 labels and 2 Cable Tidy's
Marketer: Global TV Concepts
Producer: Monte-Brooks
Website: www.TidyTwist.com
Prediction: On the Fence

Being a fastidious Virgo, this item appeals to me personally. But will it appeal to enough people to make the campaign a success? I'm not sure. My thoughts on organizational items have changed given the surprising (to me, anyway) success of Merchant Media's Swivel Store. However, I still believe most people are Oscar Madisons not Felix Ungars, meaning they are unlikely to be excited by items like these.

My rule of thumb is: One success is an outlier; three successes is a category. Still keeping track and waiting to see if organization is a DRTV category and how that category might be defined. If this one hits, we'll all be a little smarter.

Review: Light Headed

Description: A ball cap with a built-in light
Main Pitch: "Wherever you stare, bright light is there"
Main Offer: $10.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay processing)
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.GetLightHeaded.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

There's an off chance this will catch on as a Spencer Gifts-type novelty. But it won't be taken seriously, and my guess is "social risk" and/or "psychological risk" will prevent most people from buying it because there is no way to get past its intentional dorkiness. It says, "I'm light-headed" right on the hat!

On a side note, this is the 106th attempt at a light product in recent DRTV history -- or at least it feels that way. Lighting is becoming one of those categories, like hair products, where many are tried but few succeed. Put another way, it's looking like another category where the odds are 1 in 50 instead of the usual 1 in 10 (if you're good) or 1 in 20.

Review: Easy Dish

Description: A manual dishwasher
Main Pitch: "Just dip and spin for perfectly clean dishes"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: Easy Caddy (just pay separate S&H)
Marketer: Zoom TV Products
Website: www.BuyEasyDish.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Trying to position against dishwashers as the "old-fashioned way" to do dishes doesn't seem like a good idea at all. Moreover, the 'save water/save money' pitch never works because water isn't that expensive compared to other household expenses (e.g. gas). Combine that with certain product shortcomings (this takes up a lot of room in your sink) and the fact amost every demo is a dissolve or cut-away (which sets off the BS detector), and I don't see this one going very far at all.

June 02, 2011

Weekly Round-Up

Short week, so here are seven more "quick" reviews ...

  1. Cross Toner. Starring: Forbes Riley. Pitch: "Tone and tighten arms, legs, shoulders, chest and more." Comments: I have no feel for this one, but it seems a lot like Telebrands' Flex Shaper, which did not make it past the testing phase. [a]
  2. EZ Bagz. Pitch: "The first and only trash-can liner that refills itself." Comments: A weak problem/solution, not to mention that nesting trash bags is something people can do themselves with their favorite brand of bag. This one also runs afoul of the "how do I get more" problem (see my Dropps review). Prediction: Bomb. [a]
  3. Mizu Pods. Marketer: Plymouth Direct. Pitch: "The amazing new way to hydrate and decorate all your flowers and plants." Comments: Telebrands tried this last spring, and it apparently failed. Although this is a better commercial, I see no reason why this attempt would succeed. [a]
  4. Patch MD. Pitch: "Fall asleep and stay asleep naturally." Comments: I was involved in an attempt to market an oral spray with the same basic ingredient as this topical patch. It was a major failure. I see no reason why a patch would do any better. [a]
  5. Sleepy Bees. Pitch: "Neutralizes distracting outside noises while lulling your baby to sleep." Comments: With a primary focus on babies, this one is unlikely to find enough direct buyers to support a DRTV campaign. [a]
  6. Sweet Dream Blackberries. Pitch: "Own your own blackberry farm." Comments: I've seen blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and now blackberries. Seems like 'segmenting a segment' to me. [a]
  7. Torso Ball. Pitch: "Sexy abs in just three minutes a day." Comments: Another odd contraption. Those ab product designers are running out of ideas! [a]