December 17, 2018

New & True: Fast Ball

Description: A magnetic dash mount
Pitch: "Easily adjust your phone 360-degrees to any angle"
Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (free)
Marketer: BulbHead (Telebrands)
Producer: Kerrmercials
DRMetrix Rank: No. 10*
Visit Website

This first tested in April with a slightly different design, and then re-tested in September with the current design.

Phone mounts have a good track record on DRTV. The last success was Emson's Clever Grip, a 2015 True Top Spender. Two years before that, Allstar had a hit with GripGo, a 2013 True Top Spender.

* Based on weekly monitoring by AdSphere.™ To learn more or to try it for free, click here.

New & True: Ice Genie

Description: An ice cube maker
Pitch: "Replace as many as seven traditional ice cube trays""
Offer: $19.99 for one with anti-slip tongs
Bonus: 2nd one with tongs (just pay a separate fee), free shipping
Marketer: Allstar
DRMetrix Rank: No. 25*
Visit Website

This first tested in March and represents Allstar's second attempt at launching a new kind of ice maker. The first attempt was No Spill Chill in 2014.

* Based on weekly monitoring by AdSphere.™ To learn more or to try it for free, click here.

November 12, 2018

New & True: Calming Comfort

Description: A weighted blanket
Pitch: "Helps you relax so you can fall asleep and stay asleep naturally"
Offer: As low as 3 payments of $33
Bonus: None
Brand: Sharper Image
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Hutton-Miller
DRMetrix Rank: No. 9*
Visit Website

Rollouts like these are more evidence that DRTV is evolving. Looking back at my Divine Seven (D7) checklist from 2007, this one defies at least two of those classic criteria. It's not mass market (at least not in the 'one per household' sense), and it's priced five times higher than what used to be considered an impulse price.

* Based on weekly monitoring by AdSphere.™ To learn more or to try it for free, click here.

October 29, 2018

New & True: My Fit Jeans

Description: Stretchable jeans
Pitch: "The perfect fit for every woman of every shape, every height"
Offer: $39.99 for one pair (2 sizes, 3 colors)
Bonus: 2nd pair for half off ($19.99)
Marketer: Allstar
DRMetrix Rank: No. 28*
Visit Website

Jeans-like comfortwear has a solid history of success on DRTV. Hampton's Pajama Jeans (2010-2012) was the original hit. A few years later, a five-way competition in the category resulted in two rollouts (Jeaneez, Slim Jeggings). Ironically, this product is closest to Hollywood Jeanz, one of the three that didn't get traction.

* Based on weekly monitoring by AdSphere.™ To learn more or to try it for free, click here.

New & True: Ideal Conceal

Description: A concealer for the body
Pitch: "The water & transfer-proof solution to instant body perfection"
Offer: $29.99 for a bottle (choice of two shades)
Bonus: 2nd bottle (just pay a separate fee), free shipping
Starring: Taylor Baldwin
Marketer: Top Dog
DRMetrix Rank: No. 37*
Visit Website

* Based on weekly monitoring by AdSphere.™ To learn more or to try it for free, click here.

October 22, 2018

New & True: PetiCare

Description: A lighted nail clipper for pets
Pitch: "The loving way to professionally trim your pet’s nails everyday"
Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H)
Marketer: Allstar
Producer: Hutton-Miller
DRMetrix Rank: No. 25*
Visit Website

I'm a little late to the party on this one as it first hit the Top 40 about a month ago. In any case, the success of this project fits the old '10-year rule.' The last time a pet nail trimmer topped the charts was 2008. That's the year Peticure came in at No. 15 on the Jordan Whitney Annual, and a Telebrands version called Pedi Paws came in at No. 28.

In between, there were several failed attempts. These include a product similar to this one (Lenfest's LumiNail) and an attempt by Telebrands to repeat its previous success (Pedi Paws Pro).

Interestingly, another attempt to bring back the Peticure/Pedi Paws concept, this one by Emson under the name Paw Perfect, failed earlier this year. It seems a new concept was necessary to find success in this category once again.

* Based on weekly monitoring by AdSphere.™ To learn more or to try it for free, click here.

October 15, 2018

New & True: Kitty Cat Mat

Description: An activity mat for cats
Pitch: "Makes your kitty play, snuggle and feel loved when you're not there"
Offer: $14.99 for one with catnip pouch, pet hair remover
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay a separate fee)
Marketer: Top Dog
Producer: Hutton-Miller
DRMetrix Rank: No. 25*
Visit Website

* Based on weekly monitoring by AdSphere.™ To learn more or to try it for free, click here.

New & True: Magic Pad

Description: A light-up drawing tablet
Pitch: "The fun new way to draw, sketch and create"
Offer: $19.99 for one with 3 pens, 30 stencils, storage pouch & guide
Bonus: Double the offer (just pay a separate fee)
Brand: Magic
Marketer: Ontel
Producer: Schwartz
DRMetrix Rank: No. 50*
Visit Website

Two other Ontel products in the kids/toy category have been marketed under the "Magic" name: Magic Tracks (No. 15 on the 2016 True Top 50) and Magic Tracks Turbo RC.

* Based on weekly monitoring by AdSphere.™ To learn more or to try it for free, click here.

September 20, 2018

Glenn Robinson, RIP

MMAjunkie has the news that former industry leader Glenn Robinson has "died of a suspected heart attack."

In the 1990s, Robinson served as head of procurement for Telebrands Corp. He left the company to become executive vice president of Think Tek Inc., a defunct DRTV company headed by John Cammarano (now of Zoom TV Products). Some of the Think Tek's better known campaigns included the Ab Force ab exerciser, the T-Rex Vacuum and the Silver Bomber motorized scooter. The company also marketed a line of golf products under the brand MasterSwing.

Robinson would go on to create several other companies and brands, including Mindstorm Technologies, Southern Tools (of Bit Shooter fame) and Iron Bridge Tools.

In 2011, Robinson entered the mixed martial arts (MMA) world when he founded a team of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) competitors. Related to this, Robinson also formed Authentic Sports Management and launched the MMA-themed clothing line "JACO."

August 20, 2018

New & True: Blue Diamond

Description: A nonstick ceramic pan
Pitch: The "fry pan infused with millions of diamonds"
Offer: $19.99 for one with recipe guide
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay P&H), free shipping
Marketer: The Cookware Company
DRMetrix Rank: No. 30*
Visit Website

This is Old Gold. The original hit was IdeaVillage's Yoshi Blue, which was one of the True Top Spenders of 2012.

Yoshi Blue was eclipsed by Telebrands' Orgreenic, which was also a 2012 True Top Spender and appeared alone on the 2013 chart.

* Based on weekly monitoring by AdSphere.™ To learn more or to try it for free, click here.

What Happened to the ERA & DRMA? An Interview with Tom Haire

A series of surprise announcements rocked the industry earlier this summer. The first came June 1 when the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) announced that it would be shutting down after 28 years of operation. The second came a month and a half later when the Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) announced it would also close its doors. That latter news came on a Friday, and for one weekend in July our industry had no trade association for the first time since its founding.

The following Monday, a new organization was born – the Performance-Driven Marketing Institute (PDMI). It turned out the former leaders of the old organizations — Bill Sheehan from the ERA and John Yarrington and Thomas Haire from the DRMA — had teamed up to launch something new.

This past Tuesday, I had the chance to get to the bottom of all the many questions raised by this series of events. I spoke to Tom Haire by phone for about an hour. Below is an edited transcript of that conversation.


  • In the last few years, control of the ERA had shifted to an outside management company
  • This led the organization to lose touch with its members, which was likely the cause of the “declining dues receipts” and “overall shortage of revenue” the ERA cited when going out of business
  • Rumor also has it the “burdensome expenses” cited were in the form of high salaries paid to the top execs
  • Response helped hasten the ERA’s demise by forming the DRMA and winning away its members
  • They accomplished this by heeding industry insiders’ concerns – that, plus charging much less than the ERA for dues and shows
  • Interestingly, one of the catalysts of the DRMA was ERA entering Response Magazine's turf by starting its own magazine
  • As for the DRMA, its parent company (Questex) had shifted focus to hospitality, travel and beauty, so it wasn’t hard to persuade them to shut it down
  • The new PDMI will be a nonprofit like the ERA
  • The organization envisions having two annual shows: a West Coast show in the fall (likely October) and an East Coast show in the spring (possibly in Miami)
  • Unlike those eventual shows, this first Las Vegas event will consist of three days of town halls focused on a single question: What does the industry want this new organization to be?

Jordan Pine: The timing of the announcements was interesting with the ERA and then the DRMA closing and the PDMI opening up. From the outside, it kind of seemed like a planned merger or maybe just three guys that wanted to bail out and do their own startup. What’s the real story?

Tom Haire: Well, the closing of the ERA obviously set off alarm bells in the industry. John and I were really fielding a lot of incoming calls and e-mails asking, “What is going to happen?” People wanted to know what we were going to do, particularly about Vegas at the start and then beyond. So we started kicking around an idea about doing something as far as a trade association.

There wasn't a ton of interest from our parent company (Questex). They've gone in a different direction. A lot of their properties are in travel, hospitality and a lot in luxury, high-end stuff. It kind of became apparent that what might make the most sense was for us to go our separate ways. During the six-week period between ERA closing and when we announced the closure of Response, it became clear that we needed to go out and do our own thing, and Questex felt the same way.

As for Bill [Sheehan], when he joined ERA in 2017 he was one of the first people at the staff level to really reach across and welcome us in a long, long time. The staff of the ERA, not the board members. The board members are our clients, our friends, our speakers, our cover stories. We worked with the board members for years with no problems. But there was always a rift with the staff, and Bill was the first guy in a long time to work to bridge that and reach a hand out and say, “Let’s try to do this.”

After getting to know Bill and his knowledge of the association world and the [Washington] DC landscape, it just seemed like a really good fit when we started looking into doing PDMI to bring Bill on board. John and I, we do everything else, but we really have never gotten into the government affairs aspects of this – and with good reason. We felt this was the ERA’s job, and we supported what they were doing there. But if you're looking at starting an association, you need somebody who’s got that expertise. Bill’s that guy.

Jordan: I don’t know how much you can speak to the ERA, but as far as I know that organization – if you include NIMA – was as old as the industry itself. I’m really curious what happened there. I’ve only heard rumors.

Tom: When you look at where they were at financially when they got rid of staff – this is just me surmising – when they cut the staff down and went the management route with MCI, that was a sign things were changing. MCI is basically a management company that operates trade associations, trade shows and the like. It's their expertise. So instead of having ERA staff, like it had for years, it was the MCI staff that was operating the day-to-day efforts.

One thing that I can speak to is that John and I, our day-to-day touch with the industry was always one of the reasons I think we were so successful. We are out talking to people across the industry every day. The ERA lost that touch over the years. Their staff was trade-association people who were about running a trade association. They weren't DR people. The ERA lost the personal touch, which I think was a real problem for them. It’s what I think led to what were clearly some pretty nasty financial issues when they went out of business.

Jordan: I heard some other things, for example that payroll was really high and that was a big factor.

Tom: I don't know what the ERA’s day-to-day [expenses were], but the way things went down would give you the idea that financially there was a definite struggle happening there. There was no payroll: They were paying MCI a management fee. I don’t know this for certain, but I believe that even the folks we knew as long-time ERA employees, the ones who were still around, were MCI employees at the end – though I believe they lost those roles when the end came for ERA.

I think what happened – and again I don't know for sure – is that when MCI took over everything all the internal staffing of ERA went out the window and all the people we knew as ERA staffers either were gone or had become MCI employees.

Jordan: It’s weird that a management company would take over and then just shutter it – unless the financials really didn’t work?

Tom: Well, it was the ERA board's choice to close down the association, not MCI. But, from either perspective, if you look at the base of membership availability and the split between the two groups: We had won the magazine battle. Their magazine had ceased, essentially. Based purely on attendance, we had won the trade show battle fairly clearly over the last four to five years.

The expenditure to keep something going when you don't have a magazine anymore, trade show attendance is going down and when you're battling against people on the other side of it who have 18-20 years of experience in the industry – I just think it was a hard task to look at. Both the ERA board and MCI had to know John and I were around in this business for the long term.

Jordan: Let's talk about the DRMA. When it was first formed, I think many people wondered why. We had the ERA, so what was the deal with this rival organization? What was the thinking back then? How did it all come together?

Tom: When we created the DRMA, it was actually part of creating Response Expo and, beyond that, looking at creating networking events around the country. The idea of the DRMA was always networking and education and creating a low rate to enter the “club,” and then you would get a lot of perks for being in that club. If you look at us versus the competition, it was always free to come to our parties. ERA was charging. Our badges were always cheaper than ERA’s badges. The idea was to build a roster of companies that were loyal to what we were doing and then give those companies perks. At one point we had a list of 12 or 15 direct benefits. You had access to historical research we kept on the site just for you, you had access to DRMetrix research that was only via us – so forth and so on.

Jordan: But why initially form it? What was the impetus to form a competitive organization to the ERA?

Tom: When ERA started a magazine in an effort to siphon off dollars from what was at that time the only product we offered, Response Magazine, we realized that to survive we were going to need to start a trade show. And then we thought if we're going to start a trade show, the easiest way to build a loyal base is to start a membership club that will also give discounts for the trade show – whether you're buying a booth or getting a sponsorship or buying a badge. Those were really the first three benefits of DRMA membership.

When we priced DRMA membership at $595, the idea was for it to be the same discount you got for two all-access badges. So if you joined DRMA for $595, you were now part of this membership group. But if you bought two all-access badges for the show, you just paid for your membership because the discount was $300 dollars per badge. That was the first thing we put together, and we built it out from there.

The core idea of the DRMA was to build a group of like-minded people who wanted to have the opportunity to network among their members without the kind of politics that was always involved with the ERA. I think in the industry there was always the idea that the ERA was very political. I'm not talking about "government affairs" political. I’m talking about the leadership and who got what. There was always this idea that certain aspects were bought and paid for.

I’m not saying that was actually the case, but that was the image of the industry, and we wanted to create a different image, a nonpolitical group. That’s why our “Member of the Year” was always a public vote. Our “Marketer of the Year” was always a public vote. It was about democratizing and taking away those levels of perceived favoritism that existed with the ERA.

Jordan: I imagine you plan to bring these egalitarian aspects to the new organization as well?

Tom: Yes. I mean, we're going to have to run it in a certain way because it's going to be a nonprofit. There have to be certain things that we do more like ERA as a nonprofit, but that’s not going to include that perceived extra opportunity for people just because of who they are. There's going to be a pricing structure to membership, a pricing structure to sponsorship, a pricing structure once we get the magazine launched – but other than that, every member is going to get the same opportunities and access as everybody else.

We actually just got our tax ID number for the official 501(c)(6) designation, and we're hoping to have that in place either by the start of the Vegas event or shortly thereafter. That’s when we’ll get started accepting memberships to the new organization, and why we're not selling memberships now. This [Vegas show] is a one-off event, a way to make sure the industry can get together at a time and place they told us they want to. We’re going to do some town-hall meetings during the event, an open forum where we explain what we see as the plan going forward and get feedback from everybody in the industry. It's really a chance for people to finally have an open say on an open floor about the direction they want to see this go.

Jordan: You mentioned a bunch of different things that could be part of this organization. What’s on your must-have list? A magazine?

Tom: Right now, we're looking at starting a quarterly magazine next year just because we have other educational goals in mind. We didn't want to take up a bunch of my time and our graphics team's time doing a magazine every month to start. We're going to have a regular weekly newsletter like we had at Response. I'm hoping to have that under way no later than November of this year.

As for the trade shows, right now we are looking at a late winter or early spring show on the East Coast, hopefully March, hopefully in Miami. That's something that we're working on right now. That show would probably not have a full trade-show floor. It would be more of networking and education type event. We'll have some sessions. We’ll have a bunch of networking opportunities and so forth. The full-blown trade show event will then be late summer or early fall. We’re targeting early October of next year.

Jordan: Talk to me about that trade-show floor. I only move in a certain circle of people, but most of them have no use for it. Is it a necessary thing? Is there a contingent that really needs it?

Tom: For suppliers, it's still of value. But we’re looking to expand the breadth of what the PDMI is and drive more outside attendees and exhibitors into our fold. I loved the Response name, but honestly being able to rebrand and restart is a huge bonus for us because as Response we’d go to those shows and no matter what we were doing, no matter what e-commerce guy we had on the cover, no matter what we were talking about – people would say, “Oh yeah, we know you guys. You’re the infomercial guys.” So that was always the barrier for us.

The goal of the trade show floor next October is not only to have a place for our current suppliers to stay, if they want to, but to bring more visitors in from that e-commerce world. Those people love to exhibit. Companies like Magento and Shopify, it's like a beehive. They show up and 20 others show up because they handle so much business.

Anyway, that's the idea of continuing the show floor. But we are looking at how a trade-show floor makes sense. We would probably have 30 or 40 exhibitors from our traditional base that we’ve worked with for so long, but if we can add the same number of exhibitors from that outside world – then you have a really viable, exciting trade-show floor that makes sense financially for the PDMI and for those who are exhibiting. You would then actually get some traffic to it.

That said, we know things are changing and we want to give people the opportunity at the Vegas event to say, “You guys don't really need a trade-show floor.” If there’s a huge majority of people that say that, we’re going to have to start listening and thinking about how to make that shift so that, financially, the show makes sense for everybody.

Jordan: What’s your business model now that you don’t have the financial backing of Questex? Is it a membership and sponsorship model like ERA had?

Tom: I wouldn’t say we had the financial backing of Questex. We had the services backing of Questex. That is, they provided all the services for us. We had to bring a certain number in to them every year and, as long as we did that, they would continue providing us those back-end things.

A big goal when you’re running a nonprofit is to create a reserve fund. That’s where the “profit” of a nonprofit goes – into a reserve to be used for regulatory stuff should things pop up, any legal issues that need to be handled. Whatever there might be, a strong association has got a strong reserve. So the first thing we're really going to have to build up is that reserve. It's going to start a little slow the first year, but in the following years we hope to have a very strong deposit going into the reserve. Instead of trying to make a profit, or what Questex called a “contribution,” we need to make deposits into that reserve.

Jordan: How is the initial capital working? Is someone backing you?

Tom: We are fundraising currently. We're on a two-pronged attack right now. We're creating this event for Vegas, and that's one bucket of funds, and then we are fundraising for a high, six-figure number from some benefactors that we've targeted. We're hoping to announce a success about that here in the next few weeks.

This is really where Bill comes in handy. He showed us that when you create a trade organization, you really need enough money to build a 12-to-15-month runway. That's actually good timing for us because we’re looking at the end of 2019 to be a fully self-sufficient, in-rotation trade association where we’re getting regular dues from members and the regular influx of cash we’ll get from selling badges and sponsorships and so forth. And we’ll need that money to fund things like getting a hotel for Miami. People don’t realize, but we put this Venetian deal together in two weeks. That kind of deal usually takes three to six months. The response has been great and the Venetian has been great about adding rooms, but you obviously don't want to do that with every show. It just can't work that way.

One of the key factors is going to be to using that money we’re raising to book and finalize contracts with a location for the spring event and a location for the fall event. They need money up front. For this Venetian thing, John and Bill and I – our credit cards are getting a heavy workout. We’re financing this entire Vegas event out of our pockets, and I can tell you that when I look at our registration numbers every day it’s very exciting to see that I’m getting that much closer to being able to pay off some of these credit cards!

Jordan: So going back to the initial question, it’s American Express? That’s your backer?

Tom: Yeah, exactly! For the Vegas event, American Express and Visa are the two top backers.

Looking forward, we’re focusing on having the funding in place to go out and lock down those event locations and then having the funding in place to get a regular paycheck to the staff. The staff of the PDMI will be John, myself and Bill plus a salesperson and a graphic designer. We’ll be taking, fingers crossed if the funding comes in, a “get by” salary for the first 12 months of the organization so that we don't have to stress about our lives on top of stressing about work. We’re just looking to start paying small salaries to all of our staff, so that everyone feels secure moving forward.

Jordan: You mentioned government affairs. Do you see that being a big part of this? Is that what part of this town hall discussion is going to be about?

Tom: I should tell you that we're not doing any official educational sessions in Vegas. There’s a town hall each of the three mornings, 9:30 to 11. It’s going to be the same topic. It's going to be what is PDMI? What’s it going to be? Let's get your feedback. Day One is designed for marketers, both international and domestic, to get their feedback. Day Two is for everybody in the media world: agencies, networks, publishers – anyone who touches on media. And Day Three is going to be for the supply chain for them to share their thoughts. So those three things are happening.

Venable is a sponsor. They agreed to sponsor last week, and they will be putting on a special session, the only other “educational event,” which will take place on Tuesday afternoon. We’re working to bring in experts from the Electronic Retail Self-Regulation Program to sit and talk about what's effective and what isn't. We do want to continue with some sort of self-regulation program. We've heard the complaints, and we want to make some changes to how it works. But at the end of the day, we think it's a net positive for the industry to have faces and names that people know in the halls of Congress and the halls of the FCC and FTC. We want to definitely be a part of that.

We always believed that the ERA was missing the forest for the trees and should have been more focused on government affairs than they actually were. Now that we're going to be operating a nonprofit trade association, we know that we need to have some strength in that and it will be a big part of what we do. Everything's a work in progress as it stands now right. But it's part of the plan.

Jordan: You mentioned international. What plans do you have for international shows, international people, etc.?

Tom: You know, one of the things we could never do at Response and the DRMA was get the internationals to come to our events. They were very tight with the ERA, and understandably so. ERA Europe is a really strong organization and has done things really well for a number of years there. This is a doorway for us with the internationals. When the ERA went out of business, one of the first people to contact us was Julian [Oberndörfer], the leader of ERA Europe, and we've been working very closely with his group through this whole process to make sure that they're a full part of this Vegas event.

We really want to make a full partnership with the ERA Europe group. It’s important to us. It's important to constituents domestically, and it's important to the international folks to feel like they have a place to go in America.

Jordan: You speak about them as a separate group. Didn’t they go down with the ERA?

Tom: No, ERA Europe is its own operation, so for us to continue to work with them we’re going to have to make some sort of deal. The goal is to create a similar symbiotic relationship between ERA Europe and PDMI as the one that existed between ERA and ERA Europe.

Jordan: How does that work with the branding?

Tom: That's a good question. That's one of the questions we've got to figure out. But they’re excited. Julian's been great to work with. I think if we can build on the success of what it looks like is going to happen in Las Vegas, we can overcome that and any other issues we might have going forward.

Jordan: All right. What else would you like prospective members to know?

Tom: Like I said, we’re hoping to be able to announce the official 501(c)(6) designation at the show or shortly thereafter. We should be open for business soon, and we'll be announcing a membership structure in the weeks after the event. And then the 2019 calendar that we talked about. The idea of quarterly magazine starting in first quarter, the events in March and October right now. All that is crucial information.

We can't thank the industry enough for their response to what we announced in Las Vegas. It has been unbelievable. Today is the sixteenth day of open registration – twelfth if you take out the weekend date – and we have over 410 registered attendees to this event. Our target when we started this was to hopefully get 500 people. It’s only going to grow.

When I look at who is registered and who is not registered that we know is going to register, we're very hopeful now of reaching closer to 800 attendees, if not more. John and I were talking about it this morning: We’re averaging over $2,500 per weekday in registration, so that's 25 new attendees every day since we started doing this, which is just great. We know from running trade shows how attendance works and how registration works. You get kind of a slow trickle usually until you get up against an early-bird deadline or you get right up against the show. We're nowhere near either deadline, and it's been great.

Additionally, we want to thank the industry for their response to the Venetian, how they’ve packed that hotel and they are packing the Palazzo as we speak. We’re nearing a full sellout of our special rates. It's been great to see. We're very thrilled by the response, and we're very hopeful about what this means going forward. This is just the beginning.

Jordan: All right. Thanks, Tom.

Don't miss out! Badges for the inaugural PDMI show in Las Vegas are just $100 until Sept 1.
Click here to get yours now.

August 13, 2018

New & True: Click N Clean

Description: A mop
Pitch: "The world's first interchangeable spray mop"
Offer: $39.99 for one with 2 cleaning pads, floor cleaning solution
Bonus: Grout brush and grout cleaner (free)
Starring: Joe McDonnell
Brand/Marketer: Rejuvenate
Producer: Hutton-Miller
DRMetrix Rank: No. 40*
Visit Website

There were two floor-care hits on the 2017 True Top 50: SAS Group's Fuller Brush Roto Sweep at No. 23 (also an H-M production) and Telebrands' Hurricane Spin Broom at No. 37.

As for mops, the last success was the Hurricane Spin Mop, which launched in 2014.

* Based on weekly monitoring by AdSphere.™ To learn more or to try it for free, click here.

July 23, 2018

New & True: GraniteRock Pan

Description: A nonstick pan
Pitch: "The best pan ... for cooking, frying and even baking"
Offer: $19.99 for one with free shipping
Bonus: 2nd one (just pay an extra fee)
Marketer: Emson
Producer: Hutton-Miller
DRMetrix Rank: No. 25*
Visit Website

Emson currently has one other pan on the DRMetrix chart: the original Gotham Steel pan at No. 28.

* Based on weekly monitoring by AdSphere.™ To learn more or to try it for free, click here.

New & True: Copper Fit Compression Gloves

Description: Copper-infused compression gloves
Pitch: "Support muscles and joints in your wrist, palm and fingers"
Offer: $19.99 with free shipping
Bonus: None
Brand: Copper Fit
Starring: Jerry Rice
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Blue Reef
DRMetrix Rank: No. 38*
Visit Website

IdeaVillage currently has one other Copper Fit campaign on the DRMetrix chart: Copper Fit Advanced Back Pro at No. 26.

IdeaVillage had four Copper Fit campaigns on the Mid-Year 2018 True Top 50: Copper Fit Advanced Back Pro (14), Copper Fit Balance (21), Copper Fit Pro Series (36) and Copper Fit Energy Socks (40).

* Based on weekly monitoring by AdSphere.™ To learn more or to try it for free, click here.

July 16, 2018

In the News: Goodbye ERA & DRMA, Hello PDMI

That was quick.

Just days after announcing the Direct Response Marketing Association (DRMA) would cease operations, the former leaders of that organization have joined forces with the former executive vice president of the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) to form a new industry organization called the Performance-Driven Marketing Institute (PDMI).

According to the official email announcement:

[L]ed by John Yarrington, Thomas Haire, and Bill Sheehan [the PDMI] is a leadership organization dedicated to promoting, protecting and advancing its membership through education, networking and marketing, and advocacy ...

With plans for a September kickoff event in Las Vegas — the PDMI Summit — and a full array of publishing and event services for the industry in 2019, the PDMI is currently working to create a 501(c)(6) association that also will serve as a voice for the industry with federal and state regulators alike.

Yarrington was the publisher of Response Magazine, and Haire was its editor in chief. Sheehan was the executive vice president of the ERA and the executive who signed the June 1 statement revealing the ERA was closing down.

It seems the new PDI Summit is meant to take the place of the ERA Las Vegas show. It is scheduled for September 24-26, according to the email. The location is as yet undetermined. Registration will open July 30.

The plan is now coming into focus, and that plan was consolidation. More to the point, our industry won't be without a trade association for long.

July 15, 2018

In the News: DRMA Will Also 'Cease Operations'

The following statement hit inboxes Friday:

After serving the direct response and performance marketing community for more than 26 years, Response Magazine and its affiliated products and the Direct Response Marketing Alliance (DRMA) — will cease operations as of today, July 13, it was announced by the publication’s parent company, Questex LLC.

Response, headed by Publisher John Yarrington and Editor-in-Chief Thomas Haire for much of the past two decades, will publish and deliver the July magazine as its final issue ...

The Response team would like to express its most sincere gratitude to its readers, advertisers, members, attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors for their support of our work to educate, network, and inspire this wide-ranging industry during the past 2.5 decades. The relationships we have built with each of you have been a powerful factor in our long-term success — and in many cases have transcended the business we’ve done together.

The full text of the announcement can be found here.

This is a unique moment in industry history, folks. The ERA is gone, and now the DRMA. As of today, we have no trade associations, no trade magazines and no trade shows.

We'll have to see what the future holds.

July 13, 2018

New & True: Flawless Brows

Description: An eyebrow trimmer
Pitch: "Hold it like a pencil, use it like an eraser"
Offer: $19.99 for one
Bonus: Free shipping on multiples
Brand: Finishing Touch
Marketer: IdeaVillage
Producer: Blue Reef
DRMetrix Rank: No. 20*
Visit Website

This is the third Flawless product IdeaVillage has rolled out. The others are Flawless Legs, which is No. 2 on the recently released Mid-Year True Top 50, and the original Finishing Touch Flawless (No. 7).

In August of last year, IdeaVillage also tested Flawless Glo, a lighted facial cleansing brush. That project did not roll out.

* Based on weekly monitoring by AdSphere.™ To learn more or to try it for free, click here.

July 09, 2018

The Mid-Year True Top 50

(Click to see the complete chart)

It's that time again, and I have big news: We have two new champions in both the True Top Marketers and True Top Producers categories. Congratulations to the new kings of DRTV!


E. MISHAN & SONS (aka Emson) has now surpassed both IdeaVillage and Telebrands to take the No. 1 slot. Here's the breakdown and ranking of the Big Five:

  1. Emson (13)
  3. IdeaVillage (10)
  5. Telebrands (10)
  7. Allstar (5)
  9. Ontel (2)

Additional congratulations to ALLSTAR PRODUCTS GROUP for having the No. 1 campaign of the first half: MagicBax.

(See also: My review of MagicBax in the latest issue of Response.)


PADDOCK PRODUCTIONS has edged reigning champion Blue Reef to become the production company with the most commercials in the Top 50. Here's the complete breakdown:

  1. Paddock (8)
  3. Blue Reef (7)
  5. Hutton-Miller (7)
  7. Cole (4)
  9. Sullivan (4)
  11. Kerrmercials (3)
  13. Infomercials Inc. (2)
  15. Launch DRTV(2)
  17. Schwartz (2)
  19. Blue Moon (1)
  21. Bluewater (1)
  23. Concepts (1)
  25. Monte-Brooks (1)
  27. Morgan James (1)
  29. Opfer (1)

Special kudos to HUTTON-MILLER, which tied Blue Reef at one hit away from the top slot.

In case you're interested, the complete chart now has producers assigned to each campaign, so you can see who created that hit commercial you've been admiring.


There's no sense doing a ranking for this category because only two publicly known feeders had hits in the Top 50, and all but one of them came from a single company: PARAGON PRODUCTS.

We* upped our count to a whopping seven hits. They are: Bell+Howell TacGlasses (6), Bell+Howell TacLight Elite (18), RoboTwist (34), Bell+Howell TacVisor (35), Bell+Howell Night Vision TacGlasses (38), Atomic Charge Wallet (44) and Bell+Howell TacLight (50).


Lastly, here's a quick explanation of my methodology once again. First, I only looked at campaigns labeled "Short Form Products" in the DRMetrix system. I did not consider lead generation or other types of campaigns. This time, I also excluded brand advertisers as I have figured out a sensible way to do so. However, astute observers will note the Spend Index is still keyed to a brand advertiser, Proactiv, which had the top Spend Index of 100 yet again.

Second, the date range for this analysis was January 1 to June 24, 2018. Again, that may have hurt campaigns that rolled out pre-holiday, this spring and so on. Sorry folks, but I still have no good way of correcting for that.

Third, I keep tweaking what formats I include in my analysis. I'm still excluding 30s and shorter formats, but this time I decided to include 60s. That did not seem to change the chart in any meaningful way.

* For those who still don't know, Paragon Products is a partnership between me and Bill Quarless of Impact Products.

July 02, 2018

New Report: MagicBax, Fuller Full Crystal, Atomic Bullet Shield

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

In the report, I review two rollouts: Allstar's MagicBax and SAS Group's Fuller Full Crystal. I also review another "fast fail" — Telebrands' Atomic Bullet Shield (shown above).

June 18, 2018

New & True: Sensor Brite

Description: A motion-activated light
Pitch: "Light where you need it, when you need it"
Offer: $12.99 for one
Bonus: 2nd one (free), free shipping
Marketer: Trendstar
DRMetrix Rank: No. 28*
Visit Website

Motion-activated lights have been a popular choice for DRTV marketers. Both indoor and outdoor lights have been tried with some successes of note.

This product is closest in concept to Spark Innovator's Motion Brite, which spent time on the charts last year. A line extension attempt called Motion Brite Welcome Home tested earlier this year but did not roll out. Other indoor motion-activated lights attempted this year include Novel Brands' Cozy Glow and Allstar's Swivel Shine.

Moving outdoors, the biggest success was Ontel's Ever Brite, which came in at No. 19 on the 2016 True Top 50. Telebrands' Light Angel (2013) was another success.

However, several attempts to repeat those successes have not been fruitful. These include two Ever Brite line extensions, Ever Brite Color Path (color-changing path lights) in August 2017 and Ever Brite Gutter Grip in October 2017. Meanwhile, Telebrands tried an Ever Brite-like light called Atomic Beam SunBlast in January of this year as well as Atomic Beam Light Angel at about the same time.

* Based on weekly monitoring by AdSphere.™ To learn more or to try it for free, click here.

June 04, 2018

New Report: Hits I'm Doubting

A demo from Ontel's Arctic Air commercial

If I cared about looking good, I’d give every campaign that’s high on the charts a rating of at least four stars. As my latest SciMark Report will clearly demonstrate, I don’t believe in doing that.

Here’s hoping you appreciate my honesty!

June 01, 2018

In the News: Statement Says ERA to 'Terminate Operations and Close Down'

The following statement hit inboxes yesterday evening:

The ERA Board of Directors, by a unanimous vote, has determined that effective today, Friday, June 1, 2018, it is prudent and practical for the ERA to terminate operations and close down.

The Association thanks all of you for your valued commitment and support over the nearly three decades of our existence.

This outcome is certainly not what the Board of Directors had desired. The financial predicament that the Association is experiencing cannot be sustained, and it is with regret that the Association bids you farewell.

The full text of the announcement can be found here.

April 30, 2018

Corrections & Clarifications

In my latest SciMark Report, the review for IdeaVillage's Finishing Touch Flawless Brows showed an incorrect rating (online version only).

It should have shown five out five stars. The mistake has been corrected. We regret the error.

April 24, 2018

New Report: The Aphorisms of DRTV

A great example of running a hit for all it's worth

Someday I’ll publish a collection of industry wisdom called, “The Aphorisms of DRTV.” Until then, you can find three wise sayings from my collection in the latest SciMark Report.

March 21, 2018

New Report: Three Fails, Each With a Lesson

A woman sniffs a man's sweaty armpit to test a Telebrands deodorant

We have a tendency to focus on successes and ignore failures, but I’ve always found that failure is a better teacher than success. At the very least, I like to know about — and try to learn from — other people’s errors.

With that in mind, my latest SciMark Report presents a round-up of three recent flops and what I think they have to teach us.

March 16, 2018

In the News: Sh*ttens

Over at the ERA blog, Rick Petry shares the tale of how my colleague Michael Weinstein brought a parody bathroom product to market and laughed all the way to the bank. The name alone should be enough to make you click: Sh*ttens.

It's an honest-to-God real product available on Amazon.

I always did think Weinstein was a little full of it. (Just kidding, Michael. You're the best!)

Seriously, though: Between Cathy Mitchell dropping F-bombs at their signature party in Chicago and now this, the ERA has become decidedly NSFW!*

February 26, 2018

New Report: Demand for Tactical Products Ignites New Brand-Extension Triple Duel

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

In the report, I discuss the new three-way battle between Emson's Bell+Howell TacGlasses, Telebrands' Atomic Beam Battle Vision and IdeaVillage's HD Vision Special Ops.

February 06, 2018

Corrections & Clarifications

In my latest True Top 50 analysis, I attributed the MicroTouch Tough Blade commercial to the wrong producer. The correct producer is Blue Reef, bringing that talented company's Top 50 hit count to a whopping seven rollouts.

The post and chart have since been updated. I regret the error.

February 01, 2018

The 2017 True Top 50

It's time once again for my annual TRUE TOP 50, powered by DRMetrix. Click on the image below to see the most-aired DRTV campaigns in rank order. Then see below for a breakdown of the top marketers, producers and feeders of 2017.

(Click to see the complete chart)


As you know, I no longer put out awards. If that's the sort of thing you crave, check out the latest AdSphere™ Awards. Four marketers and two brands took home the top prizes for 2017. Dozens of others received category awards. The full list is here.

Moving on, here's a breakdown and ranking of the 'Big Five' DRTV marketers by number of Top 50 hit campaigns:

  1. IdeaVillage (10)
  3. Telebrands (10)
  5. Allstar (8)
  7. Emson (8)
  9. Ontel (4)

For those wondering, I broke ties by giving the higher ranking to the marketer with the bigger combined Spend Index.


This year, I want to give everyone their proper due. Below is a breakdown of every producer who had a Top 50 hit, ranked by number of hits. Once again, ties were broken with a combined Spend Index calculation.

  1. Blue Reef (7)
  3. Cole (6)
  5. Hutton-Miller (5)
  7. Paddock (4)
  9. Sullivan (4)
  11. Kerrmercials (3)
  13. Kingstar (2)
  15. Blue Moon (2)
  17. Infomercials Inc. (2)
  19. Bluewater (2)
  21. Monte-Brooks (2)
  23. Schwartz (2)
  25. Concepts (1)
  27. Opfer (1)

Click here to see a chart assigning each hit on the Top 50 to the producer who created the commercial.


"Feeder” is my term for a small company that “feeds” hits to a marketer. This year, I am aware of four active feeders, one of which has decided to remain nameless. Here is my ranking of the other three:

  1. Paragon Products (4)
  3. Permission Interactive (2)
  5. Lenfest Media (2)

Paragon's hits were the Bell+Howell TacLight Lantern (11), Bell+Howell TacLight (29), Bell+Howell Tac Glasses (33) and RoboTwist (42), all with Emson. Full disclosure: Paragon Products is a partnership between Bill Quarless of Impact Products and yours truly.

Allstar also got four hits from feeders. Permission Interactive delivered Wonder Bible (17) and Baseboard Buddy (46). Lenfest delivered Hover Cover (40) and Multi-Cut (50).

Those weren't the only rollouts these feeders had in 2017, but they are the ones that made the Top 50.


Before you email me to say I missed one of your hits, let me explain my methodology. First, I only look at campaigns labeled "Short Form Products" in the DRMetrix system. I do not consider lead-generation campaigns, for example, because such campaigns work on a different business model that what this blog is all about. I wish I could exclude brand advertisers such as Proactiv as well, but there's no good way to take them out and still have an accurate chart. Just to give you an idea of why brand advertisers are a problem: Proactiv aired 32 different creatives in 2017 to gain their top spot. That's clearly a different business model with different metrics.

Second, I'm only looking at campaigns that aired during 2017. (Technically, the date range is December 26, 2016 to December 31, 2017.) Since most campaigns don't roll out exactly on January 1st, this can throw things off. For instance, a campaign that rolled out in the middle of 2016 and stopped airing in mid-2017 would only get half the credit it deserves. Again, there is no easy way to fix this.

Third, after a few charts that included 30s and 60s, I've gone back to including 120s only. This is about business models once again. It's hard to know which 30/60 campaigns are pure loss and which are actually delivering a CPO or some other worthy metric. I've heard the argument that even drive-to-retail campaigns must be moving product at retail or why would they run? Well, I've been inside almost every major DRTV company and can tell you that it's much more common for companies to 'spend and pray.' Many times, you only learn at the very end that you didn't make any money. This is also true of some 120 campaigns, by the way. It's just more likely with shorter formats because they tend to generate poor direct response and are harder to manage.

First 50 Followers Win a Prize!

You may have heard about my new blog, The Daily Persuader. What you may not have heard is I am giving away a special prize to the first 50 people who follow me on Twitter! That's right, go to @dailypersuader and click "Follow" before it's too late!

OK, so you probably didn't hear about the promotion because I just made it up. I also don't know exactly what the prize will be. For readers of this blog, my current idea is to give away 30 days of free access to my private library of DRTV tests. Yes, that's right: I have continued to archive every DRTV test ever aired. This veritable treasure trove of information goes back to 2007 and was updated as recently as yesterday. It can only be accessed online if you have the right credentials, which very few do. I am considering offering those credentials to an additional 50 people for a limited time (certain terms and conditions will apply). So don't delay, follow @dailypersuader today!

What is The Daily Persuader all about, you ask? Well, here are some of my latest tweets to help pique your curiosity (click to read):

January 25, 2018

The Best and Worst Categories of 2017

Response magazine has published my annual "good categories/bad categories" analysis for 2017, featuring the latest data from DRMetrix.

CLICK HERE to learn what categories are generating today's biggest hits.


When you're done, why not check out The Daily Persuader, my new blog about persuasion in everyday life? It's just as educational ... and just as free!

The New True Top Marketers

In case you missed it, DRMetrix announced the winners of its 2018 AdSphere Awards on Monday. The awards honor "the most effective direct-response television advertisements airing on national television outlets in 2017," according to the DRMetrix announcement.

IdeaVillage won short-form Advertiser of the Year, and My Pillow won retail Brand of the Year. Four other companies got the top honor and many others took home Best of Category awards.

For a full list of the awards and their recipients, CLICK HERE.

January 11, 2018

The Year 'DRTV Brand' Stopped Being an Oxymoron

My last SciMark Report of 2017 is now available on the Response Website.

In the report, I declare last year a turning point in the industry's quest to establish legitimate brands. This is thanks to four deep categories that will continue to generate a steady stream of hits in 2018.

Give it a read and let me know what you think.


If you enjoy The SciMark Report, then you might also enjoy my new blog about persuasion in daily life. Check it out or follow on Twitter @dailypersuader.