March 10, 2014

The True Top Spenders of 2013

The peer review period is over. Here are the True Top Spenders for 2013:

(Click to see the full list)

And now, in a repeat of last year, here are the big winners ...

True Top Marketer: Telebrands

Telebrands takes the top spot again with nine roll-outs on the list. That's two less than last year, but no less impressive. Telebrands also had the biggest hit of the year by far in Pocket Hose. Congratulations to AJ and the Telebrands team. They have become quite the hit machine!

In second place: Allstar, a they were a very close second. In fact, two of Telebrands' hits were actually carried over from last year (Orgreenic, Olde Brooklyn Lantern) while only one of Allstar's hits was (Forever Comfy). So in one way this contest could be considered a tie. My hat is off to both marketers for an impressive year.

Third place is equally interesting. Technically, I don't count companies that partner to roll out, so third place should go to Hampton with five hits on the list. However, three of those hits came from Lenfest (My Spy Birdhouse, Wax Vac & Wraptastic), which also had three hits with Allstar (Cat's Meow, Ruggies & Zoomies).

That's right: Lenfest has SIX hits to its credit in 2013, one more than Hampton and enough to make the case that they should take the No. 3 spot. Congratulations to all the marketers mentioned, but a special congratulations to Lenfest!

True Top Producer: Concepts TV

Concepts tops the list for the second year in a row with six roll-outs for the year. Like last year for Telebrands, the timing couldn't be better as Concepts just celebrated its 30th anniversary. Three decades and the hits just keep coming! Congratulations to Collette and her awesome team.

Meanwhile, Hutton-Miller jumped up considerably this year to take second place. Actually, much like Allstar, they missed tying for first by a single hit, and if you discount roll-outs that appeared on the 2012 list, they actually tied for first as well. (The Concepts repeat was Cafe Cup.) Well done!

Rounding out the list at third is The Schwartz Group with four hits, just one away from second and two away from first, so it was a really close race this year. Kudos to them for another strong showing.

Finally, the two companies that tied for fourth, Bluewater and Kerrmercials, also deserve honorable mentions because they had three hits each. Bluewater is a newer name that has been taking the industry by storm and Kerrmercials, although not a new name, is suddenly red hot again. Congratulations to both!


This year, instead of writing about the predictions I got right or calculating my overall track record as a way of looking good, I am going to get right to eating humble pie. Here are the True Top hits I got wrong (in some cases, really wrong):

1. Potato Express. 'The microwave is dead,' the know-it-all blogger declared. Then came this item and the next one, and suddenly that old 1980s invention was looking pretty lively. Oops! To be honest, I still don't get why. I did write that if "potatoes are like eggs" then "all bets are off." Perhaps that explains it?

2. Stone Wave. This one makes even less sense to me, which is scary because I have to consider the possibility that I may not actually know everything there is to know about DRTV ... Joking aside, I try to learn from items that surprise me, but this one still has me scratching my head.

3. Cat's Meow. An outlier, but a hit nonetheless. My only consolation will be watching 12 other cat toys fail as marketers demonstrate this isn't really a category ... Actually, that will be sad.

4. Side Socket. The last three projects and this one have something in common: They defied category history to find success. What I've learned is to be more cautious in discounting a category. Sometimes, there isn't enough evidence to warrant it. Other times, there IS enough evidence and discipline has to win out. The best marketers are the ones who can tell the difference.

5. Ice Cream Magic. I was guessing when I made the prediction for this one and admitted as much, but I still made the wrong call. It seems Slushy Magic paved the way for at least two other followers (this project and Squeezy Freezy).

6. Perfect Polly. Another Kerrmercials DRTV hit I got wrong. I hear it tanked at retail, but fair is fair and I was wrong.

7. Flex-Able Hose. This was a three-way duel where the two other players had significant advantages (first mover, retail dominance), so I remain surprised and impressed that Tristar made the list.

8. AeroKnife. This is one of several Telebrands items that disappeared and then re-appeared months later as a roll-out. I don't know for sure what that means, so I'm listing it here and taking the hit.

There are a few others for which I didn't make official predictions, but I definitely didn't like them. I've already mentioned Wax Vac, my worst fail of the year. I should also mention MSA 30X. I was super-negative in my Weekly Round-Up comments (see No. 9), and obviously super-wrong as well.

I think that's it. Let me know if I forgot any.

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