December 09, 2017

New Report: Atomic Beam Lamp Logic, Red Copper 5-Minute Chef

My latest SciMark Report is now available on the Response Website.

In the report, I review Telebrands' Atomic Beam Lamp Logic and Red Copper 5-Minute Chef.

November 01, 2017

SciMark Report from October Response

My SciMark Report for October is now available on the Response Website.

This month's reviews include IdeaVillage's MicroTouch Solo, Allstar's Lo-Bak Trax and Emson's My Foldaway Mirror.

September 22, 2017

SciMark Report from September Response

My SciMark Report for September is now available on the Response Website.

This month's reviews include IdeaVillage's Finishing Touch Flawless, Allstar's Grab It and Telebrands' Atomic Charge Wallet.

September 08, 2017

SciMark Report from August Response

My SciMark Report in print for August is now available on the Response Website.

This month's reviews include Allstar's Sock Slider and Ontel's Copper Chopper.

August 07, 2017

SciMark Report from July Response

My SciMark Report in print for July is now available on the Response Website.

Are cat toys a good category for DRTV? In this report, I provide my answer to that question while covering three new cat-toy products: Allstar's Flutter Frenzy and Wiggle Tower, and Telebrands' Bop-A-Mouse.

SciMark Report from June Response

My SciMark Report in print for June is now available on the Response Website.

In the report, I covered the industry's second four-way competition in less than two years: Harvest's Metal Garden Hose vs. similar products from Telebrands (Hercules Hose), Emson (Bionic Steel Hose) and InvenTel (Forever Steel Hose).

July 17, 2017

Trumpy Bear?!

Description: A teddy bear that resembles President Trump
Main Pitch: "Don't miss out on owning a piece of American history"
Main Offer: 2 pay of $19.95
Bonus: American flag banket (inside)
Watch the spot

Either this is the most elaborate Jimmy Kimmel prank ever ... or someone has a very cynical view of Trump supporters and/or DRTV buyers.

Of course this could end up being one of those 'so bad, it's good' items that you must own for the hilarious novelty of it all.

I should also add -- and I can't believe I'm about to write this -- there is an historical precedent here. President Trump's favorite president is Andrew Jackson, but others have compared him to Teddy Roosevelt. And guess how the teddy bear got its name?

True story.

July 16, 2017

But is it really "true"?

This past Friday, we released the Mid-Year 2017 True Top 50. Such releases often generate questions and sometimes protests. I welcome them all. The "true" label is not meant to be marketing. It's a standard we are trying our best to meet.

Most of the questions I get can be summarized by the title of this post. As an example, someone recently asked me about the fact DRMetrix logs and includes all formats -- 30s, 60s, 120s, 5-minute and more -- in its database. The argument is against including anything but 120s in the True Top 50 because those not starting with or maintaining a 120 base are probably not managing their campaigns to a CPO. At least, they are not managing to a "working" CPO (whatever that means).

Fair point. Since no one ever reports on bottom-line campaign profitability or talks about the projects that end badly at retail, the real "top" marketers are the ones who can reliably find the most projects with sustainable consumer demand that deliver solid profit margins.

On the other hand, it's not clear that 120 spending is a reliable way of measuring that sort of thing, either. It's also safe to assume no one is spending Top 50-type money on losers, so campaigns ranked in the all-inclusive methodology must ultimately be some form of hit.

In any case, the question piqued my curiosity, so I decided to dig into the AdSphere system and look at 120s only. In the analysis below, I look at it two ways: by advertiser and by campaign. The former method will let us see who spent the most on 120s in the first half of 2017, and the latter will tell us who has the most hits in a top-50 ranking when campaigns with less/no CPO sensitivity are removed.


Below is how the "Big Five" stack up when you look at 120-spending only, ranked from most spending to least. (The number in parentheses is the rounded Spend Index.)

  1. IdeaVillage (100)
  3. Telebrands (90)
  5. Emson (58)
  7. Ontel (51)
  9. Allstar (35)

IdeaVillage (your True Top Marketer) is at 100 because they spent the most of any Short Form Product advertiser on 120s for the period, even beating out Proactiv (63), one of the industry's biggest spenders.

By the way, I pulled this out of AdSphere in about five minutes. It's a truly awesome and user-friendly tool for this kind of analysis, and anyone not using it is really missing out on a whole new level of competitive research and campaign management ... OK, end of plug!


Next, I ran the report by campaign and counted up how many hits each of the Big Five had in the top 50. Here's how that looks:

  1. IdeaVillage (9)
  3. Telebrands (9)
  5. Emson (8)
  7. Ontel (7)
  9. Allstar (3)

(I created a chart in my old format that shows the full ranking, which you can view here.)

IdeaVillage stays on top again with nine hits. While it lost a Copper Fit campaign in the re-ranking, it picked up an extension of one of its other brands: Finishing Touch.

That said, Telebrands ties with IdeaVillage for most hits on the new chart. Telebrands was the second biggest gainer in the reshuffling, adding Climb Cart and Zapp Light to its total.

Emson stays at eight hits, also losing one (Brooklyn Brownie Copper) but gaining one (Gotham Steel Double Grill).

Ontel was the biggest gainer, more than doubling its total from the overall chart to the 120-only chart. The marketer added four hits: HurriClean, EverBrite, Turbo Scrub and Miracle Bamboo Bra.

Finally, Allstar gains one -- Boom Touch -- which also means Paragon (your True Top Feeder) gains one, bringing our total to four hits for the first half.


So there you have it: Any way you slice it, the rankings for the first half look pretty much the same with only Telebrands improving enough to make a claim for a higher slot.

Ironically, that claim would pit the marketer against Emson, its arch-rival in no less than three battles currently on the True Top 50.

July 13, 2017

The Mid-Year True Top 50

It's time once again for the TRUE TOP 50, brought to you by DRMetrix and The SciMark Report. This chart covers the first half of 2017. Click on the image below to see the most-aired DRTV campaigns in rank order and also learn which advertisers dominated the airwaves. Then read on for kudos, call-outs and commentary.

(Click to see the complete chart)


As you know, my informal awards were officially replaced this year by the The AdSphere™ Awards, which were handed out in April at Response Expo. Still, it's fun to call out and congratulate the marketers and producers who are dominating the charts.

For the first half, the top-marketer honor must go to IDEAVILLAGE PRODUCTS CORP. once again. IdeaVillage had five of the top 10 biggest spending campaigns, and nine campaigns in the True Top 50 overall -- an incredible achievement. Indeed, no marketer comes close to spending what IdeaVillage is spending in support of its campaigns.

In second place is E. MISHAN & SONS. Emson had eight campaigns in the True Top 50, including four in the top 25. This is a huge achievement for Emson, which only last year was last among the "Big Five" with just two campaigns in the 2016 True Top 50.

Speaking of the Big Five, here are the counts for the remaining members:

  • Telebrands (7)
  • Ontel (3)
  • Allstar (2)


The Copper Fit juggernaut technically gives the top-producer slot to BLUE REEF PRODUCTIONS once again. However, no less than three other producers put up an equal number of hits. They are:

PADDOCK PRODUCTIONS with three hits for one marketer and a fourth hit for another marketer. They were behind Bell+Howell TacLight Lantern (17), Bell+Howell TacLight (26) and RoboTwist (43) as well as the 2017 $50 Gold Buffalo Tribute Proof (47) for the National Collectors Mint.

HUTTON-MILLER with four hits for three different marketers. They were behind Emson's Clorox ScrubTastic (13) and Brooklyn Brownie Copper (46), SAS Group's Fuller Brush Roto Sweep (30) and Top Dog's Futzuki (36).

COLE MEDIA, also with three hits for one marketer and a fourth for another. They were behind Telebrands' Hurricane Spin Scrubber (9) and Emson's Gotham Steel Crisper Tray (19), BetterBrella (23) and Gotham Steel Pan (48).

Finally, SULLIVAN PRODUTIONS deserves an honorable mention for having three hits -- and a half (a collaboration with another producer). One of these was Spin Spa, the second biggest spender on the chart.


Recall “feeder” is my term for a smaller company that “feeds” hits to the advertiser/distributors shown on the charts. This time around, based on what my research was able to turn up, the top feeder is PARAGON PRODUCTS.

Paragon had three hits in the True Top 50: Bell+Howell TacLight (8), Bell+Howell TacLight Lantern (17) and RoboTwist (43), all with Emson. Full disclosure: Paragon Products is a partnership between Bill Quarless of Impact Products and yours truly.


Here's what I took away from the latest chart in terms of trends. First and foremost, "duels" continue to dominate the industry with no less than five such battles taking up significant space on the chart.

The ongoing "pan wars" produced four True Top 50 hits: Emson's Gotham Steel Crisper Tray (19) and Gotham Steel Pan (48) as well as Telebrands' Red Copper Square Dance Pan (42) and Red Copper Square Pan (49). The same players' battle over tactical-themed lighting gave us three hits: Emson's Bell+Howell TacLight (26) and TacLight Lantern (17) as well as Telebrands' Atomic Beam Lantern (45). And yet another battle between these two rivals gave us Hurricane Spin Scrubber (9) and Clorox ScrubTastic (13).

Meanwhile, Ontel's battle with Telebrands over air compressors produced another two hits (Air Hawk & Air Dragon) and SAS Group's battle with Telebrands in floor care produced two more (Fuller Brush Roto Sweep & Hurricane Spin Broom). That's 13 hits, or one in four, born of duels.

Second, old duels where one brand emerged as victor continue to contribute to overall hit totals. I've already mentioned the continued dominance of the Copper Fit brand (5, 6, 14 & 32), but the Pocket Hose (21), Yoshi (27) and Miracle Bamboo (37) brands are also worth noting. Speaking of brands that continue to produce, Phil Swift's Flex brand certainly deserves mention as well. It saw one new item, Flex Tape (4), and one older item, Flex Seal Liquid (44), make the chart.

Last, let's talk about categories. I've already written extensively about the resurgence of lighting, which has persisted thanks to the "tactical" trend. Another interesting resurgence is floor care. Traditionally a tough category for short-form DRTV, with hits few and far between, the first half of 2017 saw an unusual number of such items. These include Allstar's Baseboard Buddy (16), Shark's Rocket Complete (28), SAS Group's Fuller Brush Roto Sweep (30) and Telebrands' Hurricane Spin Broom (31).

Another surprise is bathroom cleaning, which supported three hits with fairly high rankings: Hurricane Spin Scrubber (9), Clorox ScrubTastic (13) and Eagle Eye's Clean Reach (34). It just goes to show that few bad categories remain bad categories for long. This truly is an item business.

June 08, 2017

SciMark Report from May Response

My SciMark Report in print for May is now available on the Response Website.

The campaigns covered include Emson's Gotham Steel Pasta Pot vs. Telebrands' Red Copper Better Pasta Pot as well as Allstar's 3 Second Brow.

May 16, 2017

HomeWorld Picks Up Our Study

Shortly after I posted the results of our survey of consumer attitudes toward the "As Seen on TV" brand, I was contacted by Peter Giannetti of HomeWorld Business. The result of our conversation appeared in the magazine earlier this month.

You can check it out here.

May 05, 2017

Corrections & Clarifications

Thanks to Arwen Saxon at Sullivan Productions (a talented VO artist in her own right), I have learned that the veteran voice in the Sully McDonald's commercial is Jeff Laurence.

May 02, 2017

Sully Pitches for McDonald's

Anthony Sullivan has a new commercial out for McDonald's latest "invention" -- The Frork™ (HT: BQ). Watch it below, or click here.

Updated: The VO artist in the commercial is also a DRTV veteran by the name of Jeff Laurence (HT: AS).

April 26, 2017

SciMark Report from April Response

My SciMark Report in print for April is now available on the Response Website.

Do you think Kickstarter numbers mean anything for our industry? If so, the item I discuss in this month's report (Fidget Ball) is sure to be a hit. I also discuss DRTV buyers' strange affinity for butter in my review of Mister Butter.

April 23, 2017

What People Think of the 'As Seen on TV' Brand

After I learned (courtesy of AdSphere™) that the "As Seen on TV" brand received $316 million in advertising support last year, I began to wonder about consumer perceptions of "our" brand. The result was a collaboration with a former colleague that resulted in a detailed survey of consumer opinions.

In this month's Field Report for the ERA blog, we share the results of that survey. Check it out HERE.

March 27, 2017

SciMark Report from March Response

My SciMark Report in print for March is now available on the Response Website.

Intense head-to-head competition continues to be an industry trend, but this month I write about a first: two simultaneous duels by two marketers ... who also happen to be related.

The products: Hurricane Spin Scrubber vs. Turbo Scrub and Air Hawk vs. Air Dragon. Clorox ScrubTastic is also highlighted.

March 24, 2017

Arline Kramer, RIP

The ERA reports that industry veteran Arline Kramer passed away Monday night while attending the Chicago Housewares show. She was 58.

"With more than 25 years in the industry, Kramer specialized in live shopping and global distribution of direct response products, helping launch successful brands such as InStyler, Magic Bullet, Powertek and Woof Washer 360," according to the ERA article. "Known as the 'Product Queen' for her ability to build sales, she was responsible for more than $1 billion in revenues."

My condolences to Ms. Kramer's family and her friends in the industry.

March 20, 2017

'We' Spent $316 Million Supporting 'Our' Brand

People outside the industry think 'As Seen on TV' is a brand and that all of those 800-number products they see on TV come from the same company. They see the same logo on every package, and the category name over the top of mall kiosks and stores, so they can't be blamed for making that assumption.

Of course, industry insiders know there is no such company and that we all share the 'As Seen on TV' brand. (We can thank TV Guide and AJ Khubani for the logo.) But have you ever wondered how much advertising support "our" brand is getting?

Thanks to AdSphere,™ we now have an answer to that question: $315,559,760.19.*

For the details, and to see how much the entire industry spent in 2016, check out the latest press release from DRMetrix.


* That's just on the 92 national networks that AdSphere monitors. Add broadcast, satellite, local & so on, and that number is even higher.

February 24, 2017

SciMark Report from February Response

My SciMark Report in print for February is now available on the Response Website.

This month I write about the return of IdeaVillage's Spin Spa, Ontel's Rocky Mountain Tumbler and Flippin' Fantastic.

February 03, 2017

Corrections & Clarifications

In my January Response article about 2016's good categories and bad categories, I incorrectly identified the marketer of Click-It Belt. The correct marketer is National Express. The article has been updated. I regret the error.

January 27, 2017

Corrections & Clarifications

In my recent post about the 2016 True Top 50, I neglected to mention two other producers who had two hits on our annual chart. They are Kerrmercials and Monte-Brooks.

The omission has been corrected online. I regret the unintentional slight and congratulate Tim, Linda and Ed on another great year!

The 2016 True Top 50

It's time to announce the 2016 TRUE TOP 50, courtesy of DRMetrix. Below you will find the campaigns with the highest cumulative Spend Index in the calendar year. Click to see the entire list. Then read below to learn about some exciting upcoming awards and review my analysis of the year.

(Click to see the complete list)


Exciting news this year: My unofficial and informal True Top Marketer and True Top Producer "awards" are being replaced by real awards that come complete with a fancy awards ceremony! They're called The AdSphere™ Awards, and they will take place at Response Expo this April. All of the awards will be announced soon, and I'll be sure to post a link to them at that time.


Can't wait to find out who was the best short-form marketer last year? I have some stats just for you. There are five major players that dominate the airwaves and retail shelves. I call them the "Big Five." Below is a ranking of this group based on number of hits they have on the True Top 50. (The number in parentheses is the number of hits.)

  1. IdeaVillage (10)
  2. Telebrands (6)
  3. Allstar (5)
  4. Ontel (4)
  5. Emson (2)

Of course, this simple analysis doesn't tell the whole story. The size of a campaign is also relevant. So let's narrow the list to get a sense of who had the biggest campaigns. Since the True Top 50 is ranked according to Spend Index, we can simply cut off the bottom of the list to narrow it to campaign size.

TOP 25

  1. IdeaVillage (5)
  2. Allstar (3)
  3. Emson (2)
  4. Ontel (2)
  5. Telebrands (2)

TOP 10

  1. IdeaVillage (3)
  2. Allstar (1)
  3. Emson (1)
  4. Ontel (0)
  5. Telebrands (0)

The bottom line: In all cases, IdeaVillage is clearly dominant and would surely have earned the True Top Marketer award for 2016. Second place, on the other hand, would have been a little more tricky. Telebrands would have won based on the raw number of hits, but Allstar would have won based on the size of its campaigns. It's also noteworthy that Emson, Ontel and Telebrands were all tied for third on the Top 25, especially since the two items Emson and Telebrands had were versions of the same products. Finally, it should be mentioned that Emson appears in the Top 10 this year while Ontel and Telebrands do not.


One other stat has always interested me and, thanks to DRMetrix, I can now measure it more accurately than ever before. It's an evaluation of marketer efficiency I call "hit rate." How efficient were the Big Five at finding hits? That is, how many TV tests did they have to fund (at a rough average cost of 50 grand a pop) to find their hits? Some believe this business is just a numbers game, so understanding how hit rates change with increases in testing volume is important.

To measure hit rate, we need two numbers: attempts and hits. Here's the first number for the Big Five, courtesy of AdSphere:


  1. Telebrands (109)
  2. Allstar (47)
  3. Emson (32)
  4. IdeaVillage (29)
  5. Ontel (29)

Now we need to know about hits. Since that takes us beyond the Top 50 into somewhat controversial territory, I'll be transparent about our methodology. For this exercise, we defined a "hit" as any attempt that reached $100,000 or more in estimated spending across the national cable networks monitored by AdSphere. It's highly unlikely a marketer would spend that much on testing alone, so it's safe to assume in most cases that passing $100,000 in estimated spending indicates good enough results (for that marketer) to roll out in some way. In my view, a rollout is the least debatable proxy for a "hit."

Anyway, here are those stats for the Big Five:


  1. Telebrands (15)
  2. IdeaVillage (9)
  3. Ontel (8)
  4. Emson (6)
  5. Allstar (5)

Simple math will now give us what we're after.


  1. IdeaVillage (1 in 3)
  2. Ontel (1 in 4)
  3. Emson (1 in 5)
  4. Telebrands (1 in 7)
  5. Allstar (1 in 7)

I'll let you draw your own conclusions, but here is a basic one: Hit rates don't scale proportionately. You may be able to go 1 for 3 or 4 if you only attempt a couple dozen projects per year, but ramp that up to 50 or 100 and you're going to regress to the mean, which looks like it's somewhere around 1 in 7 for the most experienced players. Incidentally, that mean has either improved significantly from what the Big Five players used to say it was (i.e. 1 in 10), or those players were underrating themselves.


Although I am unable to discover the producer of every campaign, I have most of the DRTV-to-retail players covered. That's enough to analyze the True Top 50 and give you a Top 5 producers list. (Again, the number in parentheses is the number of hits.)

  1. Blue Reef (6)
  2. Schwartz (4)
  3. Paddock (3)
  4. Blue Moon (3)
  5. Cole (2)

Congratulations again to Blue Reef Productions for a killer year. Incidentally, all six of their commercials were for Copper Fit products. If there were a True Top Brand award, that would certainly be the one for 2016!

Kudos also to The Schwartz Group, which had four campaigns to its credit, and to Paddock Productions and Blue Moon Studios, both with three.

Finally, many producers had two campaigns in the True Top 50 besides Cole Media Group. These include: Kerrmercials, Concepts TV, Opfer Communications, Sullivan Productions and Monte-Brooks. However, Cole had the bigger campaigns to its name and thus took the No. 5 slot.


I just completed a comprehensive analysis of good categories and bad categories based on the 2016 data, so I won't rehash it here. If you're interested, you can check it out on the Response Website.

Otherwise, I have a pair of random observations to round out this post. First, short-form fitness is back! Thanks to Lori Greiner, we have our first Top 10 hit in the fitness category in a long time: the Simply Fit Board.

Second, it has become axiomatic that every hit item from the Big Five will face at least one competitor. However, it seems many of these competitions shake out to where one brand is the clear winner. That was true of six campaigns in the True Top 50 by my count: Copper Fit, Dutch Glow, Pocket Hose, Simply Straight, Star Shower and Lazer Bond. Two duels defied the trend, however. The "pan wars" did it in spades with four campaigns on the list from three different marketers. The other duel that survived the year was Emson's Bell+Howell TacLight (No. 11) vs. Telebrands' Atomic Beam (No. 21).

January 23, 2017

Corrections & Clarifications

In my January Response article about 2016's good categories and bad categories, I incorrectly identified the marketer of Sensual Contour (now Simply Contour). The correct marketer is Global TV. I regret the error.

January 22, 2017

SciMark Report from January Response

My SciMark Report in print for January is now available on the Response Website.

This month, I publish my annual good categories/bad categories list – this time with the help of the indispensable data from DRMetrix.

Check it out to learn what has changed and what categories are generating today's hits.

'Queen' Asieya in January Response

Asieya Pine – aka your DRMA Member of the Year, the president of Lockard & Wechsler Direct and our family's perpetual Wife & Mother of the Year – is featured in a Q&A in the most recent edition of Response magazine.

CLICK HERE to read the interview.

Our family is very proud of her. I am, of course, very proud of her. However, I do have one small bone to pick with the DRMA ...

Right at the top of the piece, they refer to her as "recently crowned." It's true she is my queen. But, sheesh, give a guy a break!

January 18, 2017

No, You Don’t Have the Next Hit in That Hot Category – But Here’s Why You Think You Do

If a DR marketer has an unexpected hit, that marketer and the rest of the industry will start to believe they have discovered a “hot” category and follow with a string of failures. I call it the "Siren" effect. Israeli psychologist Daniel Kahneman called it something else, and his work on the subject helped earn him a Nobel Prize.

To read more about how Kahneman's work sheds light on a common error in judgment, click here and read this month's Field Report.