August 30, 2012

True Top Spenders (Review Copy)

The votes are in from my survey asking if I should change the "True Top 50." (A big thank-you to everyone who participated.) The result was that 73% favored the change.

So, without further ado, here is the new True Top Spenders chart for 2012 (mid-year edition):

As described in my change proposal, this is the "peer review" copy of the chart. Here is everyone's chance to email me about ommissions and errors, and to fill in the blanks. Marketers and producers, claim your roll-outs! Critics, critique away!

About this time next week, I will publish the final chart along with marketer and producer credits. I will also name my mid-year True Top Marketer and True Top Producer. So don't be shy!

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Clear Call. Marketer: Allstar. Producer: Paddock Productions. Pitch: "The new large print caller ID." Comments: Written by yours truly. [ss]  
  3. Bathtastic. Pitch: "The kid-smart solution to a happy shampoo." Comments: This is Bye Bye Tears under a new name. [ss]
  5. Bump Shield. Pitch: "Protects your home by holding doors shut in the event of lock bumping." Comments: As it is, fear and prevention are a tough sell on DRTV. But when you have to educate people about the problem your product solves? That's a recipe for guaranteed failure. [ss]
  7. Cool Way. Pitch: The flat iron that "stops the high heat damage cycle." Comments: Not a good category for short-form DR. [ss]
  9. Dr. Tom's Rapid Foot Relief. Marketer: IdeaVillage. Producer: Blue Moon Studios. Pitch: "Roll it on, and the pain is gone." Comments: A 'fast fail.' [ss]
  11. Flea Vac. Pitch: "Turn your vacuum into a flea killing machine." Comments: Selling the invisible. A replenishment item. Not a great combination. [ss]
  13. Foot Bliss. Pitch: "The cure for dry, cracked feet." Comments: Should do well, especially at retail, but I'd be careful with those claims. [ss]
  15. The Kruncher. Pitch: "The easy way to work out your abs." Comments: Nothing original about this one. Besides, given what just happened with Ab Circle, I'd be afraid to succeed in this category. [ss]
  17. Revers-A-Pals. Pitch: "The game ball is about to change ... Throw it! Reverse it!" Comments: Cute product, but let me count the ways it is destined for failure: 1) wrong demographic, 2) segment of a segment, 3) seasonal, 4) has multiple SKUs. Yes, this one's right up there with football pizza on the list of items that were most wrong for DRTV. [ss]
  19. Shock It Clean. Starring: Professor Amos. Pitch: "The only super-concentrated, multi-purpose cleaner you will ever need." Comments: So many attmempts ... so many failures. [ss]
  21. Side Solution. Pitch: "Finally, a pillow made for side sleepers." Comments: "Finally"? Guess they never heard of the one that's already everywhere at retail? Also, if their pillow won't get you to sleep, watching the video on their site sure will! [ss]
  23. Win Cleaner. Pitch: "It's like laundry detergent for your PC." Comments: I like the tag line and the spokeswoman. (She looks like this annoying telemarketer we used for the Clear Call spot.) But I don't like the product. The market has been too saturated with similar solutions. [ss]

August 21, 2012

KC Railroad Pocket Watch

Description: A pocket watch
Main Pitch: "Commemorates the Old West in all its glory"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one in silver
Bonus: 2nd one in silver for $12.99
Marketer: Telebrands
Prediction: N/A

When I don't understand something an experienced DRTV marketer keeps doing, I stop making predictions and start paying closer attention. Such is the case with this project, which marks the third time Telebrands has put out a product with a nostalgia pitch in the last year. The Olde Brooklyn Lantern was the first, and the Grand Victorian Watch was the second.

Actually, this watch looks exactly like the Grand Victorian. It just has a different story attached to it. Is this another internal duel?

Bunga Bed

Description: A pet bed
Main Pitch: "The comfy, cozy bed that's shaped like a shoe"
Main Offer: 2 pay of $19.95
Bonus: Name kit (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Emson
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Cute spot, but Telebrands already tested a similar concept called Pet Cave back in February. I haven't heard much about it since. This version of the idea will be less appealing because you have to like the shoe design. The price tag is also high for an impulse item.

Heel Away

Description: A foot pain solution
Main Pitch: "Three layers of therapy treats even the most painful foot problems"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one in black or nude
Bonus: Treatment program, gel cell, carry bag
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

I see three issues with this project. One, the category hasn't been great for DRTV. The most recent attempt at a short-form orthotic, Strutz Sole Angels, wasn't big on DRTV. Two, this is a bit of a 'Swiss Army' solution in that it tries to solve several foot problems at once. That approach leads to a mushy, confused positioning statement. Third, this spot and Website are pretty heavy with claims that most likely cannot be made, which is going to slow down the campaign considerably if it does somehow manage to roll out.

Weekly Round-Up

  1. EZ Indoor Garden. Pitch: "Grown your own vegetables, herbs and edible flowers -- all indoors." Comments: This product reminds me of the AeroGarden, which found DR success a few years ago. However, that earlier product carried a heftier price tag, which I think is necessary to make the economics work for this niche market. [ss]
  3. Handbag Hangups. Pitch: "When a hangup is good to have." Comments: This concept was tried at least twice before on DRTV without success (see here and here). In DR, the third time is never the charm. [ss]
  5. Kitty Litty. Pitch: "Just simply lift then shake, and it automatically sifts." Comments: This attempt at 'old gold' was already tried once without success. Then Sift & Toss came along and recaptured the market with a new, disposable solution. This commercial tries to convince people the old way was better, but I don't think people will buy it (literally). [ss]
  7. Micro Pop-Up Wallet. Pitch: "Just pull the strap to pop up your credit cards, your license, your insurance cards and more." Comments: I feel the same way about this as I felt about Aluma Slide: A solution in search of a problem. Is it really that hard to get things out of your wallet? [ss]
  9. Safety Glo. Pitch: "Emits a bright, glowing light ... keeping you and your pet seen and safe." Comments: I've taken a few cracks at pet safety items like this. None has panned out. It seems prevention doesn't sell in the pet category, either. [ss]

August 19, 2012

Should I change the True Top 50?

Now that I have a few years of chart-making under my belt, I am thinking about changing the True Top 50. Before I do, I'd like to know what you think about my proposed changes. Please review the suggested changes below, and then cast your vote. All responses are anonymous. Majority opinion rules.

Proposed Changes

Change #1: Exclude any campaign that doesn't average at least $50,000 per week in spending. This bar shouldn't be very hard to hit for "true" rollout campaigns. Independent spending estimates aren't based on real DR rates (because such rates vary wildly based on supply and demand), so they are always overly generous. The point of this change: To weed out "pump and dump" campaigns and also small-scale campaigns that don't deserve to be among real hits.

Otherwise, I would continue to eliminate all campaigns that aren't "true" short-form DRTV: brand-support campaigns, corporate campaigns, short-form versions of long-form shows, etc. In other words, if it isn't the sort of campaign I would review on this blog, it gets screened out.

Change #2: Remove the limit of 50, and change the name of the chart to "True Top Spenders." Since the above parameters will produce a list shorter or longer than 50 campaigns, I would have to remove that artificial goal/limit. The point of this change: I would like to provide a more accurate assessment of the top marketer and top producer, since that title is based on the number of campaigns on the chart. I would also like more marketers and producers to get recognition for their successes.

As for the word "spenders" in the name, isn't that the most accurate way to put it? After all, what's a "hit" these days? A profitable CPO? Break-even on TV? An acceptable TV loss that is made up for at retail? Every marketer has a different opinion, and the threshhold varies by product and campaign. Without verifiable inside information on every campaign, the only thing I can effectively monitor and report is spending.

Change #3: Publish the list twice per year, instead of seasonally, and make it a to-date ranking. The new plan: After mid-year, I would publish a ranking for the first half of the year and name a mid-year True Top Marketer and True Top Producer. After the end of the year, I would publish a revised ranking for the full year and name my official, annual True Top Marketer and True Top Producer. The point of this change: I think the seasonal ranking is too frequent to be meaningful, and the overall record for the year is what should be considered.

Change #4: Introduce "peer review." What I would like to do going forward is publish the chart in rough or "review" form and give people a chance to email me about ommissions and errors -- and to fill in any blanks (who produced what, etc.). Then, say a week later, publish the final, "peer reviewed" chart. The point of this change: Not having to issue corrections is the obvious benefit, but I want to go one step further and start showing the marketer and producer for every campaign on the chart. That way, the whole industry will know who's hot and who's not, and the under-appreciated will have a chance to shine.

So what do you think? Please cast your vote and let me know. I will publish the overall result (percent for, percent against) in a week or so.

August 14, 2012

Magic Meal

Description: A microwave cooker
Main Pitch: "The revolutionary, all-in-one microwave cooker that prepares an entire meal in minutes"
Main Offer: $19.99 for the 5-piece set with recipe book
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H), Little Red Chef (just pay P&H)
Marketer: InvenTel
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Because I attend a lot of new product meetings, I know this item represents a combination of several ideas (a microwave pressure cooker, a microwave steamer, a colander) that have been kicking around the industry for a while. Some of the ideas made it to TV, where they promptly failed. For example, the colander function of this cooker reminds me of Simple Strainer, a 'fast fail' Allstar tested back in May.

Of course, the marketers of this product are banking on it going the other way, more in the direction of Telebrands' Pasta Boat (No. 24 on my True Top 50 of 2010). However, it seems to me that only items narrowly focused on pasta (Pasta Pot, Pasta Express) seem to resonate with DRTV buyers. This item is the opposite of narrowly focused. It's more of a 'Swiss Army' product, and for that reason I think it will also probably fail.

In general, I think microwave products have lost much of their cachet. Lately, even the best ones I've seen struggle to generate the response necessary to succeed. Maybe the miracle of the microwave is just old news these days?

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Cell Buckle. Pitch: "The best hands-free bike mount for cell phones, GPS or MP3 players." Comments: Makes sense for motorcycles, but that's about it. [ss]
  3. Flex Seal Brite. Starring: Phil Swift. Pitch: "New light, bright color." Comments: Makes sense as a retail line extension, but not worthy of an entire DRTV campaign. [ss]
  5. Flexi Faucet. Marketer: Allstar. Pitch: "The flexible new faucet nozzle that reaches places ordinary faucets can't." Comments: A fast fail (site is already down). By now, the percentage of people without sprayers on their sinks must be tiny. [ss]
  7. Paint Pad Pro. Marketer: Pitch World. Pitch: "The speed of a roller and the precision of a brush." Comments: This could have been another "Old Gold?" feature -- if not for the fact that it isn't very old and it wasn't really gold (more like silver). IdeaVillage had a decent run with it as the Point 'N Paint just four years ago. [ss]

August 12, 2012

Perfect Server

Description: A pie/cake server
Main Pitch: "The miracle kitchen helper that makes serving a piece of cake"
Main Offer: $10.99 for one
Bonus: Spice Dispenser Set (just pay P&H)
Starring: The ubiquitous Marc Gill
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

Cute spot, but this product has no shot. It's a classic solution in search of a problem. (Sorry, Marc!) Even if people actually have this problem, which is doubtful, it's far from an everyday problem -- and that significantly reduces the 'pain' of this problem.

On a side note, I really enjoyed the face acting of the lead actress. She did a great job of communicating 'crestfallen.' Reminded me of one of those silent film actresses.

Perfect Harmony

Description: A color-changing LED candle
Main Pitch: "Place the candle on any color and ... [it] will instantly light up with any color you choose"
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Sullivan Productions
Prediction: Likely to succeed

This product is a perfect example of the exception to my first Fabulous Five criterion. While it doesn't solve a problem, it's really cool and exciting. The demo is pure magic, and I think people will want to buy this one just to see it in action and show it off to their friends.

August 08, 2012

Consumer Reports 'Duel'

It seems I'm not the only one who likes a good duel. In the September issue of Consumer Reports, Vince Offer's Schticky and Telebrands' Sticky Buddy are put to the test. (HT: Nathan B.)

My column on the DRTV campaigns in the February issue of Response went one better: It featured the first triple duel.

August 03, 2012

CORRECTION: Spring True Top 50

No matter how careful I try to be, mistakes creep into my work and new information comes to light. After I posted my Spring True Top 50, I received several emails alerting me to three (!) corrections I need to make:

  1. Concepts TV actually had SIX spots in the Top 50. I was not aware that they produced the spot for Mr. Lid (#48). That doesn't change anything, it just makes their True Top Producer victory all the sweeter!
  3. Along similar lines, Bluewater Media actually had FOUR spots in the Top 50. I was not aware that they produced Booty Slide (#43). That does change something: It puts Bluewater alone at No. 2 in the running for True Top Producer, no longer tied with anyone. Congratulations to them!
  5. Finally, because of the strange way campaigns are sometimes reported, I had Greenberg Direct's Justice Coin on my list twice under two different names. I have now combined the two and re-ranked the list, making that campaign #19. The only thing that really changes: Campaign #51 (10 Minute Trainer), which didn't make the Top 50 before, now makes the list at #50.

All changes have been applied to the original posting. I regret the inaccuracies.

August 02, 2012

Spring True Top 50

(Editor's Note: This posting has been corrected.)

The results are in for March 2012 through the end of May 2012. Here are the True Top 50 hits for the spring:

By a landslide, the True Top Marketer of the spring is Telebrands with a whopping NINE items in the Top 50, one of them new (Orgreenic, Sticky Buddy, Slim Away, Lint Lizard, Slice-O-Matic, Aluma Wallet, Shed Pal, Deep Romance & Bake Pop). Allstar is second with five hits, two of them new or recent (Trendy Top, Magic Mesh, Roto Punch, EZ Eyes and GoJo Hands Free).

As for the True Top Producer of the spring ...

Congratulations to Concepts TV!

This is the first time Concepts has been No. 1. They had an impressive SIX spots in the Top 50, most of them new (Twist N Clip, Shimmer, Stretch Genie, Furniture Fix, Smart Cover & Mr. Lid).

Relative newcomer Bluewater Media takes the runner-up spot with FOUR spots on the list (Thundershirt, Grout Bully, Jack Rack and Booty Slide). Every other producer had three or less on the list.

Finally, there is the matter of my track record. There were few new items on the list this time around, and I sat on the fence or abstained in my reviews for most of them. Some new items have surfaced near the bottom of the list that I predicted would flop, but that's largely because the list has to go to 50, and this was a slow spring. I don't think those items should count.

Think that's unfair? Consider this: The bottom 10 items on the list combined spent 22% less than the #1 item on the list (Orgreenic). More to the point, the average weekly spending for those 10 items during the 13-week period in question was approximately $60,000 -- but that's at rate card. At DR rates, it would be generous to estimate spending at $20,000 per week.

I leave it to you, dear reader, to decide if I should be eating crow on such items. Use the comments section if you want to sound off.

August 01, 2012

Hot Buns

Description: A hair accessory
Main Pitch: "Gives you multiple, glamorous do's anyone can do"
Main Offer: $10 for three sizes in black, brown or blonde
Bonus: 2nd set (just pay P&H)
Starring: Taylor Baldwin
Marketer: Allstar
Prediction: On the fence

This is a 1 in 50 category. You can prove that yourself by searching this blog for hair accessories and counting up all the failures. So a safe bet would be to go with the odds here and predict failure.

However, I really like this creative approach, which was first introduced in the Hot Booties commercial. The (wo)man-on-the-street feel, the cheering crowd and the Hollywood touches all work together with the testimonials to create a highly credible, high-energy commercial. I also really liked the product 'twist' -- when you take out the bun, another do is done. (Wait, I should have written this spot!)

On a side note, this one definitely makes my list of double-entendre product names, joining recent entry X-Hose, Can Handler, Hot Booties and my personal favorite, Kitchen Quicky. But the most memorable double entendre is in the commercial itself. While fondling the already phallic product, Taylor grins and says, "the secret is in the shaft." That will definitely get some attention, but probably from the wrong demographic!

Hollywood Nails

Description: A nail-decorating kit
Main Pitch: "Takes the guesswork out of aligning your design"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one with 5 image plates
Bonus: 2 multi-color image plates, 3D Bling Kit (just pay P&H)
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

This product is better than Salon Express. But 'better than' products don't typically work on DRTV. Another way of saying it: There's only room for one. The marketers of Salon Express have left only high-hanging fruit, and attempting to pick such fruit is a good way to lose your shirt in this business.

As for the creative, it takes forced rhyming to a whole new level. The writer actually tried to rhyme "stamper" with "glamour"!

Quik Press

Description: A wrinkle-removing spray
Main Pitch: "The fast, easy way to eliminate wrinkles and your iron"
Main Offer: $19.95 for a 12-oz bottle plus 2-0z travel spray
Bonus: 2nd set (just pay S&H)
Producer: Paddock Productions
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

All of my isses are with the product. First, I think Downy Wrinkle Releaser became hard to find for good reason -- lack of strong demand. Second, if I have to spray a entire garment and then use a blow dryer to get fast results, I may as well take out my iron.

Weekly Round-Up

  1. Aqua Rug (v2). Marketer: Tristar/Zoom TV Products. Pitch: Pretty much the same as before. Comments: New marketing partner, tighter claims. [ss]
  3. Dr. Color Chip. Pitch: "The easiest and most effective way to touch-up minor automotive paint chips and road rash." Comments: For some reason, this category attracts a large number of amateurs. I feel like every summer I review a dozen car products from no-name marketers. [ss]
  5. Kitty Cat Mat. Marketer: Allstar. Pitch: "Innovative new mat keeps litter off your floor." Comments: Love the name, but apparently this one was a 'fast fail.' The site is already down. [ss]
  7. One Shot Lure. Pitch: "It's like having a professional fishing guide in your tackle box." Comments: After Chum Chamber and Strike 'N Set failed, I added fishing to my list of bad categories for DR. I see nothing here to make me want to reverse that call. [ss]
  9. Rebound Hair. Marketer: Telebrands. Pitch: "Get thicker, fuller looking hair in just seconds." Comments: In DR, the third time is never the charm -- and this is actually the fourth time (see #4). [ss]
  11. Swivel Closet. Pitch: "Holds 10 pants in just 10 inches of closet space." Comments: Another site that came down quickly. [ss]