November 28, 2011

Review: Go Booster

Description: An inflatable car seat
Main Pitch: "Weighs less than 2 lbs," "small enough to fit in a handbag or suitcase"
Main Offer: 3 pay of $19.95
Bonus: Free travel tote and cover
Marketer: National Express
Prediction: Bomb

I often talk about "segmenting a segment." This product goes beyond committing that violation. Call it "segmenting a segmented segment." Its primary target seems to be parents (a minority segment of DRTV buyers) of toddlers (getting smaller) who travel enough with their kids to need a temporary booster seat solution (we're down to a few dozen people now). You can always tell a marketer is stretching when they make naked pleas such as, "Your child may be too old for a car seat, but she still needs a boost."

Making things worse, it seems these parents (or their children, apparently) must have good lung capacity and a lot of patience to use this product. Speaking as a father of two toddlers, this narrows the segment to near zero. I can just see it now: "I know we're already late to Disney World, kids, but hang on while daddy blows up this booster seat."

Oh, and did I mention this thing costs $60? I'm sure there was a rationale there somewhere, but I have no idea what it might have been.

Review: Stack Mates

Description: Nesting food storage containers
Main Pitch: "Keeps your cabinets clutter free with no wasted space"
Main Offer: $10 for a set of five
Bonus: 2nd set of five (just pay processing)
Marketer: Telebrands
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Speaking of Smart Spin, here's another solution to the problem of lost lids and crowded cabinets. Actually, this product and spot are more reminiscent of Wow Containers. From what I understand, that campaign had a decent run, but didn't do well enough to warrant a similar attempt so soon. Plus, Wow Containers had a great primary benefit this product does not: They could be mixed and matched to accomodate almost any portion of food.

Review: Can Handler

Description: A spinning can organizer
Main Pitch: "Rotates so you can easily see every can and quickly grab the one you need"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: 2nd one, spinning Packet Handler (just pay processing)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Blue Moon
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

I continue to stick to my "one is an outlier, three is a category" rule. So far, I've only seen an outlier in the kitchen organization category: Merchant Media's Swivel Store (which was also produced by Blue Moon). Hit #2 has yet to present itself, lending credence to my hypothesis that "spices might be a special case."

(I don't count Smart Spin because it preceded Swivel Store by long enough to suggest it may also have been an outlier. But even if I did count it, we'd only have two, not three.)

Further lowering the odds for this one: Several can organizers have failed on DRTV. I remember a u-shaped one for soda cans that went inside a refrigerator, and a Ferris Wheel-like contraption that bombed for two different marketers.

Incidentally, some day I will do a feature on the best (or worst) double-entendre names in DR. Kitchen Quicky will likely top the list, but Can Handler will definitely make the cut!

November 23, 2011

Ogilvy on DR

I'm a big fan of David Ogilvy (his books have a permanent place on my bookshelf), so I was delighted to receive a link to this video the other day (HT. Bill S.). Enjoy!

November 22, 2011

Review: I.M Rings

Description: Workout rings
Main Pitch: "Use the body you got to get the body you want"
Main Offer: $14.95 for rings and anchoring system
Bonus: 7 Extreme Workout DVDs
Starring: Jake himself
Marketer: Body By Jake
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

I confess to not understanding this category very well. What makes its target audience buy and how the DRTV-to-retail model works appear to be different than with other categories. Based on what I've seen, however, the products that break through tend to present a strong "reason to believe" the system will deliver the promised 'get ripped' results. (It also helps to have an MMA star attached to the product.)

This item doesn't credibly present such a reason. Maybe that's because working out with rings is an unusual behavior you don't see in your local gym -- versus, say, people working out with Tower 200-like cables.

As for the spot, I found it long on motivational platitudes and short on product features. Then again, it's hard to spend a lot of time talking about a pair of rings.

Review: Kitchen Quicky

Description: A colander and cutting board in one
Main Pitch: "The ultimate food prep station that fits right over your sink"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: Ceramic knife (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Lenfest
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Prediction: On the fence

Putting aside the name (which sounds like the title of a Penthouse letter), this product suffers from the "Swiss Army" problem. It has too many features to cover adequately in the span of a DRTV spot. There are exceptions to the rule (see Chef Basket), but they are few.

Otherwise, I like the product. Perhaps it would do well on live shopping.

Review: Broiler Buddy

Description: A personal-size broiling pan
Main Pitch: "Takes the hassle out of cooking single servings"
Main Offer: $10 for one with recipe book
Bonus: 2nd set, non-stick locking tongs (just pay processing)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: The Schwartz Group
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

This one fails the motivation test. To get people off the couch, you need an exciting product. It either has to solve a painful problem, possibly for the first time, or have some kind of amazing demo that overwhelms logic with that "gotta have it" feeling. This does neither. It's a small pan. I can't see people getting excited about that.

November 21, 2011

My Complete Track Record

A fan of this blog recently asked about my track record since I started making predictions. I mentioned that I publish an accounting of my track record quarterly, when I announce the True Top 50. He said he wanted to know what my record was to date. I confessed I had never done more than a year's worth of analysis, and then had focused only on hits I had gotten either right or wrong.

Fast-forward a few weeks, and he presented me with a gift: He had actually gone to the trouble of combing through my entire blog and matching up predictions with results!

Long analysis short, here are the results:

  1. Of the 29 times I predicted a test was "likely to succeed," I have been right seven times. That's an accuracy rate of 24% or one in four.

  2. Of the 117 times I predicted a test was "unlikely to succeed," I have been right 104 times. That's an accuracy rate of 89% or getting it right about nine times out of 10.

  3. Of the 36 times I have predicted "bomb," I have been right 34 times. That's an accuracy rate of 94% or getting it right about 19 times out of 20.

For this exercise, my accuracy was determined by a TV spending threshold and a check of retail stores. If a campaign spent at least $500,000 (at rate card) on rated stations and the item made it to retail, it was declared a success.

One other thing: It seems I only predicted "hit" one time in blog history (when Guthy-Renker and IdeaVillage partnered to do Sexy Legs), so they lumped that one in with the "likely to succeed" results and counted it against me (since I was wrong). There is one other time I predicted "hit" (with Allstar's Snap-2-O), but it is too soon to determine the outcome of that campaign.

So there you have it: A full accounting of my track record for anyone who wanted to know. As for my feelings about this record, I don't take much pride in predicting failures accurately. If you think about it, the failure rate for the industry is easily 19 times out of 20, so all you'd have to do is call everything a bomb and you could match my record.

I am a bit more proud of my success at predicting winners.While failing three times out of four might seem like a terrible track record to the uninitiated, any industry insider would love to be wrong that infrequently!

Now if only I had an equity stake in all of those successes ...

November 17, 2011

Review: Doggy Time Treats

Description: Kit for making dog treats
Main Pitch: "The wholesome gourmet doggy treats you bake yourself"
Main Offer: $12.99 for a bag (choice of 5 flavors), 3 treat cutters
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay S&P)
Marketer: SAS Group
Producer: DEG
Prediction: N/A

File this one under "shameless self-promotion." I wrote this one, so of course I expect it to be a huge hit!

By the way, the answer is yes -- that is the ubiquitous voice talent you usually hear in Blue Moon commercials.

Dueling Nail Decorators

Review: Nailtastic

Description: A nail-decorating kit
Main Pitch: "Salon perfect nail designs in seconds"
Main Offer: $19.99 for the kit with six image discs
Bonus: Three bonus discs (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Ontel
Prediction: N/A

Like IdeaVillage did with Sonic Jammers/Music Bullet, Ontel is testing to see if a different name and creative can deliver a different result (the first version being Salon Express.) I applaud those willing to engage in the experiment and will watch which one rolls out with interest.

Review: Chip Wave

Description: A microwave chip maker
Main Pitch: "Fat-free, guilt-free chips ... right in your microwave"
Main Offer: $10 for one with Chip Smart Slicer
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay processing)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Blue Moon Studios
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Someone outside the industry tried this idea in September. They called it Top Chips. If this is an item, the Blue Moon/Telebrands will easily win in the marketplace -- but I'm not so sure this is an item. My comments are exactly the same as before: "This looks like a lot of work to make one bag of chips, and all for what? Healthier chips are widely available at retail these days. They come in low fat, no fat, baked, air cooked and more, and you can get chips in every type of fruit or vegetable imaginable."

On a side note, I love the opening of this spot. Using sound to get people's attention and hammer home a key selling point is a brilliant idea.

Weekly Round-Up (2)

Yes, another one. I am a little behind, so expect quite a few new posts over the next week or so.

  1. Arch Pumps. Starring: Lee Majors Pitch: "Instant custom arch support." Prediction: Unlikely to succeed. Comments: Not even the Bionic Man can make an insole work on DRTV. Sorry, Lee. Still a big fan! [a]
  2. Bubby My Buddy. Pitch: "Air-inflated plush toys ... from 2 feet high up to 7-foot tall giraffe." Prediction: Unlikely to succeed. Comments: This one is kinda the opposite of a small, huggable pillow you can sleep with. Otherwise, I like the visual appeal but think the timing is off. Everyone and their mother (almost literally) is out with a plush these days. [a]
  3. Get Me Out Pillow. Pitch: "Not just a pillow but a cozy friend awaits you who is saying 'Get Me Out.'" Prediction: Bomb. Comments: Speaking of plush overload ... and this one is third to market with a me-too product. [a]
  4. Gourme Mist. Pitch: "The five-calorie flavor and cooking spray." Comments: So wrong for DRTV, I don't know where to begin. [a]
  5. Pushy Pops. Pitch: "The amazing new push-up snack pop." Prediction: On the fence. Comments: We are also approaching 'baking overload' in DR right now. But I haven't seen enough consistent success to justify the activity. If there is a category here, it's clear no one understands it yet because these items are all over the place in terms of USP, and most are short on a solid problem/solution. [a]
  6. ShockWave. Brand: Gold's Gym. Pitch: "Bigger, heavier and stronger for amplifying muscle contractions." Prediction: Bomb. Comments: "Late" isn't the word for what this me-too product is to market. We'd have to go back in time for this to have a shot against Shake Weight. [a]
  7. Stay Gate. Marketer: IHS. Pitch: "Keep your pet safe and sound." Prediction: On the fence. Comments: I like the product and the commercial is professionally done, but I don't know enough about newcomer IHS to understand what they are trying to accomplish. If it's truly an online mall model, as the site indicates, color me dubious. [a]
  8. Ultra Sorter. Pitch: "Accurate rolls every time." Prediction: Bomb. Comments: If only we had that time machine I mentioned earlier ... [a]

November 16, 2011

Weekly Round-Up

I am making one change to this feature: I am going to start making predictions. My last True Top 50 update had far too many "did not review" items in the score-keeping section. Not making a call during these round-ups was one reason why.

  1. Easy Sheets. Pitch: "Making your bed has never been easier." Prediction: Bomb. Comments: Amateur hour. It fails almost all of my criteria. [a]
  2. Perfect Tweeze. Pitch: "Optimal lighting every time." Prediction: Unlikely to succeed. Comments: Been there, done that. We called ours Luma Tweeze. The experience taught me that women are very loyal to that one brand of tweezer they love and won't replace it easily, even if presented with an added benefit like a light. [a]
  3. Plant Sorb. Pitch: "Never worry about water damage from your house plants or Christmas tree again." Prediction: Unlikely to succeed. Comments: This is sort of like a ShamWow! specifically for plants. Not a bad idea, in general, but way too narrow for DRTV. [a]
  4. Pouch Painter. Pitch: "The no-spill painting solution." Prediction: Bomb. Comments: It's very difficult to have a hit in this category. The solution has to solve a painful problem in a "wow" way. This product addresses a mild nuisance and does it in a generic way. [a]
  5. Tread Ahead. Pitch: "Never get stuck again." Prediction: Bomb. Comments: I'll say it again -- preparedness is the opposite of impulsiveness. Any pitch that boils down to -- 'You have to act now to be prepared for a possible future problem!' -- is doomed from the start. Plus, this solution is geographically limited and highly seasonal. [a]

November 01, 2011

Summer True Top 50

Since the warm weather is clearly over here in the Northeast (today there is snow on the ground), it's time to take a look back at the true hits from the summer season. The results are in. Here are the True Top 50 ...

First, my standard disclaimer: This listing is based on our unique methodology, which you can always read more about here.

Second, here's an update on my track record. With regard to new items only, my track record is 3-4-9. I got three wrong (two are questionable), four right and nine didn't count for one reason or another.

Ones I got wrong: Sift & Toss, Snap-On Feathers and Slim Away. I think the first two are questionable because the commercials and/or strategies changed before the campaign rolled out. When I reviewed Snap-On Feathers, for example, the commercial did not star Carishma or feature a pitch to download her single. Meanwhile Sift & Toss has gone through several revamps since I reviewed it. But in both cases, I wasn't hot on the core concept, so I'll take my licks. I guess retail sales will be the ultimate judge of my degree of wrongness.

Ones I got right: Perfect Meatloaf, Slice-O-Matic, Shed Pal and Half Time Drill Driver. Three out of four are Schwartz Group productions. More on that later.

I did not review Pivotrim, Thundershirt or Ab Roller Evolution simply because I missed them until it was too late. Meanwhile, I intentionally did not review Eggies or MyZone Headphones because I was too close to them to make any comment. Although I made brief remarks about Magic Mesh, I probably should have skipped that one for the same reason, since I wrote the commercial. As for Flex Seal, Miracle Socks and Plaque Blast, my comments were brief and rode the fence, so I didn't count them either way.

Next, I am announcing that Allstar Products is my True Top Marketer for the summer of 2011, re-taking the top spot with eight hits total, four of them new and four in the top 10. Telebrands is a close second with nine hits total, six of them new. But they only had one in the top 10 (an old hit at that). Allstar also had a total of five hits in the top 25 to Telebrands' four, so I gave the edge to Allstar. IdeaVillage and Media Enterprises tie for third with three hits each, none of them new.

Finally, I am declaring The Schwartz Group my new True Top Producer. Not because of the total number of hits they produced (they have only three to Hutton-Miller's six), but because all three are new to the True Top 50. Perfect Meatloaf is also the highest-ranked new hit (at No. 3) from a producer with more than one appearance on the charts.

I admit this methodology is a bit selective. Looking at the sheer number of hits, old or new, Hutton-Miller would tie Blue Moon Studios for No. 1 with six hits each, and The Schwartz Group would tie Concepts TV for No. 2 with three hits each. But I like to look at new hits, and when it comes to those, The Schwartz Group has clearly emerged as No. 1. They have one new hit in the top 10, two new hits in the top 25 and three new hits in the Top 50.

This is the first time The Schwartz Group has been No. 1, so congratulations to them!

SciMark Report from October Response

My SciMark Report for October is now available on the Response Website. Reviews include: Turbo Pak and Phantom Saucer. [a]

Tug Toner

First there was the Shake Weight ...
Then came Free Flexor ...
And now, the Tug Toner (HT: Dean I.).