January 27, 2014

Copper Flex

Description: Copper-infused compression sleeves
Main Pitch: "Designed to eliminate muscle and joint soreness" and "reduce swelling for faster recovery"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one elbow or knee sleeve
Bonus: 2nd sleeve (just pay S&H)
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Blue Reef Productions
Website: www.GetCopperFlex.com
Prediction: On the fence

Telebrands' Ankle Genie (originally Ankle Angel) is sitting atop the charts right now, and I have to admit I'm a bit surprised. I had thought it too senior in its appeal to become a big campaign. That said, I am noticing a trend where some older-skewing products are having a great run on DRTV. Whether that translates to retail remains to be seen.

In any case, the success of that item and the previous success of Ontel's Miracle Socks shows there is something to compression garments. So does this item fit the mold? Quite possibly, but I have a few reservations ...

For one thing, this pitch is very sports-focused, which takes it out of the aforementioned senior realm. Two, it may run afoul of my "only room for one" rule if it is perceived to be at all similar to Ankle Genie, which has a considerable head-start with a very strong distributor. The copper pitch and elbow/knee focus should prevent any such conflict, but you never know.

Of course, it may also be true that the feet and ankles are unique, and the key to the whole thing. There are many categories where one focus works (e.g. back pain, foot care) and a related focus doesn't work (neck pain, hand care). DR buyers are strange like that.

As for this creative, it is off-the-charts awesome. There is a top tier of DRTV production work being done by just a handful of producers ... and then above that is this commercial. Too bad I have no idea who did it! None of my guesses were correct, so I'll have to update this post with that information at a later date.

(Update: Turns out it was the same producer who did IdeaVillage's Flips Audio creative, a company out of Los Angeles called Blue Reef Productions.)

One more thing: Near conflicts with Ankle Genie aside, there are indications that a multi-player direct conflict may be brewing in this new 'copper garments' category. Stay tuned ...

Silver Slip-Ins

Description: Odor-killing shoe inserts
Main Pitch: "Keep your feet fresh and odor-free all day long"
Main Offer: $10 for 5 pairs in nude
Bonus: 5 more pairs in gray (just pay P&H)
Starring: Taylor Baldwin
Marketer: Top Dog Direct
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Website: www.SilverSlipins.com
Prediction: On the fence

Insoles have a terrible track record on DRTV. I can't think of one success in the last decade. However, they have all focused on comfort, so this freshness approach is, well ... fresh. Will it be enough?

Honestly, I have no clue. It's rare that I come across an item that is so unique, there is no relevant DRTV history and it hasn't been tested in some way before. This is one of those cases, so I'll be watching and learning with the rest of the industry.

Aqua Stone

Description: A stone humidifier
Main Pitch: "Goes to work instantly, moisturizing the air around you the natural way"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.GetAquaStone.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

I like this concept, but at $20 I think credibility becomes a major factor that will get in the way of closing the sale.

I've looked at several non-electric humidifier concepts, and my thinking is always the same: Unless it produces visible fog, people are going to be skeptical. It's a version of the "selling the invisible" problem we've seen with bed-bug killers and the like.

Sometimes, when the technology is new and unique, you can get away with it. Sharper Image's Ionic Breeze (before the consumer reviews caught up to it) and Riddex come to mind. But when the technology is familiar and well understood, I think the challenge is too great.

Weekly Round-Up

Daisy Fuentes & David Arquette

  1. Secret Extensions. Starring: Daisy Fuentes. Pitch: "The invisible hair extensions that give your hair thick natural-looking volume and length in seconds." Comments: This is the right way to try something like at-home hair extensions (high-end spot, celebrity, higher quality product). However, I suspect most women will greet this concept with skepticism since they know this process and it is elaborate for good reason. [ss]
  3. V Chic. Starring: David Arquette. Pitch: "The new electronic smoking option that looks and tastes just like a real cigarette." Comments: In contrast to the above, this is the wrong way to market this concept. The celebrity is a waste of money. In fact, the entire project is a waste of money because this category is super-saturated, and there is no good way to break through. As for Mr. Arquette, his performance seems like a comedy sketch with the tuxedo and all that 'eyebrow acting' he is doing. [ss]
  5. Auggie Dog. Pitch: "Allows you to pick up, conceal and carry what your dog leaves behind." Comments: Pooper scoopers top my list of bad categories for DRTV. There have been many attempts, and every one of them has failed. So testing an over-engineered, over-priced (it's $150) pooper scooper strikes me as pure folly. Cute spot, though. [ss]
  7. ExStatic Hairbrush. Marketer: Fuller Brush Co. Pitch: "Millions of ions eliminate static, build full body and shine, end fly-aways and frizz, keep hair clean between washes." Comments: This is the Pet Groom Pro concept for humans. Although the creative isn't great, I like the product and think it has a decent shot. [ss]
  9. Genie Zip. Marketer: Tristar. Pitch: "The amazing new bra that lifts and supports you in total comfort." Comments: Another new addition to the Genie line. Seems somewhat cannibalistic to the original Genie bra, but 'new and improved' has often been a good strategy for lengthening the tail of big DRTV hits. [ss]
  11. Pocket Griller. Starring: Chef Ali. Pitch: Make sandwiches "loaded with flavor, toasted and even sealed all in one minute." Comments: This is sort of a poor man's panini maker and reminds me of the Diablo sandwich toaster, which several marketers looked at a few years ago. Given the surprising success of Stufz (the only time the third time was the charm!), it makes sense to explore the 'stuffed food' category further. [ss]
  13. Quick Taco. Starring: Cathy Mitchell. Pitch: "Make crispy, delicious taco shells in minutes." Comments: Allstar's version (No. 4 in this Weekly Round-Up) was a 'fast fail.' I see no reason why this version would succeed, the main problem being taco shells are easy to find at every grocery store. [ss]
  15. Shoe Booty. Marketer/Producer: Meltzer Media. Pitch: "In a split second, every kind of shoe is all instantly covered, so dirt can't get into your house." Comments: This is a second attempt at selling this concept. The original was called Shoebee (No. 3 in this Weekly Round-Up). The price is now $10 cheaper and in the DR range. However, I stand by my original comment: Only OCD germaphobes (or perhaps real-estate agents) would buy this. [ss]
  17. Swirlio. Marketer: Emson. Pitch: "Turns ordinary frozen fruit into yummy, soft serve desserts." Comments: Neat concept but a little pricey at $60 plus P&H. [ss]

January 25, 2014

SciMark Report from January Response

Fiber Fix

My first SciMark Report of 2014 is now available on the Response Website.

The items covered include: Allstar's Fiber Fix with Beau Rials & Lori Greiner [ss], SAS Group's Dutch Glow [ss] and Suzanne Somers' 3-Way Poncho [ss].

Coming Soon

As for the upcoming February issue, here's what I'll be covering:

Check out the next issue of Response magazine to see what I have to say about these projects.

January 16, 2014

Goody Hoody

Description: A blanket with a hood & foot pouch
Main Pitch: "The blanket that fits like a sweatshirt"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one in black, gray or pink
Bonus: Laptop Trapeze (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Website: www.MyGoodyHoody.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

After the monstrous success of Snuggie, every marketer and their mother tried a similar item (some of them are documented here). It was about this time I developed my "one is an outlier; three is a category" rule.

So if I were the head of a rival DRTV company back then, and I was secretly jealous of Allstar's success (and how could I not be?) while unable to replicate it with another product in the category, what would I do? Probably exactly what Telebrands has done here: Patiently wait for enough time to pass, and then try to bring back the concept with a new twist.

I have no idea if that's what actually happened in this case, but it's five years since Snuggie peaked, so the timing would appear to be right ...

Except: Allstar just tried a fifth anniversary Snuggie play that doesn't seem to have gone very far. And Snuggie was clearly a fad. Trying to bring it back -- even in a new and improved version -- is a little like trying to bring back Zhu Zhu Pets, the Furby or any similar craze product.

Yoshi Grill & Bake Mat

Description: A non-stick cooking mat
Main Pitch: "Cooks food evenly while the grill stays squeaky clean"
Main Offer: $14.99 for 2 grill mats, 1 bake mat
Bonus: Grip 'N Flip spatula (just pay processing)
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Kerrmercials
Website: www.YoshiGrill.com
Prediction: On the fence

This is the third 'follower product' (how's that for a euphemism?) I've noted from this marketer in as many weeks. The first two were HD Vision Night Vision and HD Vision Visor. This project follows Miracle Grill Mat, which was first tested in November of last year (see #4 in this Weekly Round-Up) and which, I am told, was done by Infomercials Inc.

In the past, I might make a comment here that would get me in trouble. Suffice to say, it isn't new for powerful players to decide to "compete" with less-powerful players if they sense a retail opportunity. Indeed, it appears to be a growing trend again.

As for the item, I liked a similar concept for grills years ago, so I like this product, too. As a grill guy, I do view the grill-marks claim with a high degree of suspicion. As a marketer, I question the timing of the test and know from experience that managing inventory around grill season can be very tricky.

Beauty Egg

Description: A makeup applicator
Main Pitch: "Applies and blends at the same time for a fast, flawless finish that lasts all day long"
Main Offer: $10 for 2 applicators
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Sullivan Productions
Website: www.GetBeautyEgg.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

I rarely think lack of credibility is going to sink a project, but this is one of those cases. There's no way women are going to believe the promises made, which often sounded like they came from a Guthy-Renker commercial, can be delivered by a mere applicator.

The value proposition is also off here since applicators have a low value perception and giving four just seems like overkill for something that's supposed to be reusable forever.

Surprisingly, I also have a previous project in the archives I can reference here: Ontel's Power Puff. It was a vibrating makeup applicator that was tested about a year ago. It obviously did not go forward.

Weekly Round-Up

  1. My Pillow Topper. Pitch: "Transforms any bed into a rejuvenation station." Comments: I have no idea what the strategy is here, so I'm going to reserve judgment. Needless to say, at that price ($300 and up), it's not getting a CPO. One note on the creative: The Space Age is over! [ss]
  3. Aqua Seat. Pitch: "The affordable, automatic toilet seat that actually closes itself while you watch." Comments: Cute opening and a cool innovation, but potty products have a terrible track record on DRTV (see my Sneak a Poo review). This problem is also too low on the scale to drive more than novelty purchases. [ss]
  5. Chalk Magic. Marketer: Spark Innovators. Pitch: "The fun new chalkboard that eliminates clutter and mess your own creative way." Comments: I don't see why anyone would want cut-to-size chalkboards all over their house. Chalk is messy and there are dry-erase boards if you really want an erasable solution. Sticky notes work just fine, too. [ss]
  7. Cinchy. Pitch: "The stylish new bag that turns into a mat." Comments: Neat product that is somewhat reminiscent of Wonder File (a 2011 hit) and Cosmetic Express (TBD). I can see moms buying it, but probably not on impulse. [ss]
  9. RibMaster. Pitch: "Finally, a condiment spray bottle with a baster brush at the end." Comments: Hilarious. Love the contrived problem expressed with frustration. "Finally!" [ss]

January 15, 2014

Ask the Expert (2)

Another installment of my DRTV advice column is now live on the AsSeenonTV.com blog. The question: "How long does it take to get a new product on TV?"

Click here to read my answer.

January 10, 2014

AJ's Success Story

For Telebrands' 30th anniversary, NY/NJ local news station "My9" (WWOR/FOX-TV) dedicated an entire half hour to telling AJ's success story (HT: BQ).

It's a very detailed, personal and (from what I know) accurate telling of a piece of DRTV history. Also featured: Poonam Khubani and Marianna Morello of Manhattan Media.

You can watch the entire show below or here on YouTube.

January 09, 2014

Weekly Round-Up

  1. InstaGone Pro. Pitch: "An even more powerful formula that instantly dissolves any stain without scrubbing." Comments: I liked this "Old Gold" item a lot when I voted for it during a Philadelphia inventor event in 2011. Glad to see it finally found a home. A few earlier attempts to bring it back failed, but this new formulation might just do the trick. It will mark the first time in a long time that a multi-purpose cleaner finds success. As master pitchman Marc Gill recently reminded me, his Stream Clean pet-stain cleaner is a stand-out exception to the broader category curse. [ss]
  3. Brew Caps. Pitch: "Lets you re-use and re-fill coffee pods." Comments: The only people who would buy this are the same people who wash and re-use aluminum foil and Ziploc bags (a segment of a segment to be sure). Otherwise, people will just buy Cafe Cup or one of its competitors. The price is roughly the same. [ss]
  5. Retract Winder. Pitch: "The only retractable cord storage organization system on the market." Comments: A 'fast fail' (link goes to the spot). The concept has also been tried before. [ss]
  7. Krocodile. Marketer: Kinn. Pitch: "Splits and crushes medicine for your pet." Comments: Weak creative, too high of a price and targets a segment of a segment (pets on medication). [ss]
  9. Kudose. Marketer: Kinn. Pitch: "Pet healthy treat and pill giving made easy." Comments: Same first two comments as above, and the homemade pet treats pitch hasn't worked (see #2 in this Weekly Round-up for example). [ss]

January 06, 2014

Perk It!

Description: A glass coffee percolator
Main Pitch: "The way coffee used to taste"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: Bag of coffee, ceramic mug (free)
Starring: Rick Harrison (from Pawn Stars)
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Blue Moon Studios
Website: www.GetPerkIt.com
Prediction: On the fence

I have two strong opinions after watching this commercial: The first is that this product is one of the worst choices for DRTV I have ever seen. The second is that despite my first comment, something about this creative just works.

My feelings about Rick Harrison's first commercial for IdeaVillage, MicroTouch One, were similarly conflicted. I started off deeply skeptical and wound up thinking the project might just have a shot. Perhaps the credit lies with Blue Moon ... or some secret selling technique from the pawn-shop underground. Whatever the case, it works in a way that defies the "creative doesn't matter" belief system.

And yet, I have to wonder again if any of this will carry over to retail. On the shelf, this will look like exactly what it is: Your father's old coffee pot in a world of shiny, futuristic Keurig machines. Unlike the "One," it doesn't even have a credible value proposition to fall back on.

Brownie Derby

Description: A hat-shaped brownie maker
Main Pitch: "A perfect deep dish brownie bowl pops out every time"
Main Offer: $10 for 2 plus an idea book
Bonus: 2 more, Springy Scribbler (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: The Schwartz Group
Website: www.BrownieDerby.com
Prediction: Unlikely to succeed

My prediction here is based solely on the fact that DR dessert products don't have a great track record. Many have been tried, and many have failed. Telebrands has one of the few success stories (Bake Pop), but also many forgotten flops.

The biggest DR dessert item in recent history was Allstar's Perfect Brownie, but the similarities to this project end after the word "brownie" (and the involvement of the Schwartz team, which always does excellent work). That surprising hit actually solved a problem with baking brownies. More important, it made a common treat everyone eats. By contrast, this commercial asks consumers to buy two pitches: One selling a new type of dessert and the other selling the product that makes it.

Personally, I think these 'fillable dessert' makers are compelling and might have tried one myself given the opportunity. But even when I think about the category in those narrow terms, I can only come up with flops (e.g. Allstar's Fill 'N Flavor).

HD Vision Visor

Description: A visor accessory
Main Pitch: "Reduce glare and turn your vision into high definition"
Main Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: HD Vision Sunglasses (free)
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: NexTV
Website: www.HDVisionVisor.com
Prediction: On the fence

I can pretty much repeat my review of HD Vision Night Vision Wraparounds here. This is IdeaVillage's answer to a product that launched months ago (EZ View HD), and the commercial features the same in-car testimonials technique I found odd last time.

That said, I'm not prepared to draw the same conclusion about what will happen at retail. My gut was obviously wrong about the potential for the item -- the EZ View HD Website is still live -- but I question whether the item has enough response to fuel two campaigns. More to the point, this isn't as obvious of an HD Vision line extension as the night-vision sunglasses. Indeed, it strikes me as somewhat cannibalistic. (I suppose it's best to cannibalize yourself, though.)

One last thing: There is a key difference between this item and its competition. This one has two "lenses," one for day and one for night -- but I'm not sure that's an improvement. I actually think it over-complicates an otherwise straightforward product.

January 02, 2014


Description: An LED lantern (of sorts)
Main Pitch: "Simulates the same effect as a jar of fireflies ... but the bugs never die"
Main Offer: $14.95 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Morgan James
Website: www.CatchALight.com
Prediction: On the fence

Another LED lantern, just what we need -- but wait! This one is more toy/nightlight than lantern, and that might be enough to break the losing streak. After all, one of the most magical childhood memories I have is catching fireflies in a jar ...

Then again, that's my childhood. We didn't have immersive gaming consoles, tablets and mobile devices. In other words, maybe this is yet another analog idea in a digital world (or a digital imitation of an analog idea -- you get my point).

I also wonder if this is like the projection aspect of Dream Lites (see My Lil' Rainbow): A pitch that only works when it's attached to a plush toy. We'll see.

Hog Wash Scrubber

Description: A scrubbing sponge
Main Pitch: "When it's cold it's tough, and when it's hot it's gentle"
Main Offer: $10 for 3
Bonus: 3 more (just pay a separate fee)
Starring: Anthony Sullivan
Marketer: Telebrands
Producer: Sullivan Productions
Website: www.HogWashScrubber.com
Prediction: On the fence

This is some really neat technology that has received a lot of attention since it was introduced on ABC's Shark Tank under the name Scrub Daddy. But will the hype translate into sales? That's always the question in my mind, and my guess in this case is "no."

Dish-cleaning items (e.g. Magic Bristle Gloves/Magic Glove/Scrub Glove, Easy Dish, Microfiber Magic Sponge) generally do not do well on DRTV because there are just so many other options available.

I'm only thinking about the product in terms of DRTV response, though. Sometimes, a lot of hype can translate into retailer interest ... which can result in good retail placement ... which can result in solid sales based on that placement, the novelty of the item and the free awareness created by the hype. If anyone knows how to play that game, it's Telebrands -- so I wouldn't be surprised to see this one in the 'As Seen on TV' set.

My Lil' Rainbow

Description: A rainbow projector
Main Pitch: "Give them a rainbow every day, rain or shine"
Main Offer: $19.95 for one
Bonus: None
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Hutton-Miller
Website: www.MyLilRainbow.com
Prediction: On the fence

After the huge success of Pillow Pets, Ontel went on to prove several times that its mega-hit wasn't an outlier. (Indeed, there were more plush toys on store shelves last quarter than anything else!) One of those subsequent successes was Dream Lites, which raised a new question in my mind: Are projection toys also a viable DRTV category?

Telebrands already made one attempt to answer that question with its Starry Nite Clock, which doesn't appear to have gone anywhere. This project represents another attempt. The item is certainly magical enough, but I worry the rainbow will appeal only to girls, resulting in the 'segment of a segment' problem.

SciMark Report from December Response

Vince Offer & Invinceable

My final SciMark Report of 2013 is now available on the Response Website.

The items covered include: Vince Offer's Invinceable [ss], Allstar's Handy Charge [ss] and Lee Reherman's The Kruncher [ss].

Coming Soon

And here's another sneak peek, this time at what I'll be covering in the first issue of 2014:

Check out the January issue of Response to see what I have to say about these new projects.