September 06, 2022

The SciMark Report is moving

A little more than 15 years ago, on June 15, 2007, I launched this report. The decision instantly made me a trendy new “blogger,” and I was soon the industry’s most popular blogger — but only because our industry is small and no one knew what the heck a blogger was.

Anyway, it was here on Google’s Blogger platform that The SciMark Report launched and grew and has remained — until today.

The short version: I'm moving this report to a new platform. You can find out why by reading the longer version of this post over there.

By the way, if you're subscriber here I have already made you a subscriber there, so there's nothing for you to do. If you aren't a subscriber and want to sign up for this (relocated) report, click here.

April 28, 2022

Industry News: iSpot Will Become a Unicorn

In the world of venture capital, a startup that hits a $1 billion valuation is known as a "unicorn." is now poised to achieve that mythical status thanks to an upcoming $325 million investment from global investment giant Goldman Sachs.

“As we enter our second decade, the investment and support from Goldman Sachs will help fuel the next generation of innovations and accelerate our ability to be the trusted cross-screen currency of choice,” iSpot CEO Sean Muller said in the press release announcing the deal. "I couldn't be prouder of our 350 passionate iSpotters who bring it each and every day," he added in a companion LinkedIn post.

iSpot is on a roll. Last year, it acquired Joseph Gray’s DRMetrix and gained unique, real-time measurement capabilities. Last month, it became the first measurement company certified by NBCUniversal for use as "currency" in the purchasing of national advertising campaigns. WarnerMedia and IPG Mediabrands are also working with the firm on this front.

For these reasons, iSpot is widely viewed as a growing threat to competitor Nielsen, which has been the gold standard for TV ad measurement. That must be especially exciting for Muller, Gray and the rest of the iSpot team since Nielsen recently sold for 16 unicorns.

March 08, 2022

New & True: Mighty Interesting

A DR classic! (and note the socks)

Before you get too excited about that headline, it's mostly a play on words. In point of fact, not much of interest happened last month. Just another episode of Brands Gone Wild. (It’s not nearly as stimulating as the 'girls' version, but there’s a much lower chance of being thrown in jail.)

Looking over the DRMetrix reports, only two campaigns really jumped out at me. Both come from a marketer who is not one of the Big 5. Both also feature items from categories on my 'don't even bother' list. So that’s what I found interesting. Here's the rundown...

Mighty Thirsty Mop (Top Dog/Hutton-Miller). DRMetrix says this campaign has been airing for months, but this is the first time I've seen it remain at the top of the charts. The commercial stars Jon Florell and features some classic DR mop demos, including the 'over the head' demo (shown above) to prove it doesn't leak. I also like the subtle touch of having Florell wear white socks (that never get dirty) as he does all the demos. There's a reason Hutton-Miller is the undisputed True Top Producer, folks. They think of everything, including the little things only a true aficionado would appreciate. (Like how that compliment somehow boomeranged back to me?)

Nuzzle (Top Dog/Hutton-Miller). There’s so much to like about this creative, but I’ll start with something that may seem minor: I love the voice-over artist. His read is modern and upbeat, hitting all the right notes for these social-media dominant times. Then there's the true brilliance of the problem opening. As someone who has scripted more than his fair share of commercials, I can tell you it was no easy task to come up with something original. Most wouldn't have bothered to try. I mean, this has to be the 349th opening to a sleep-product commercial in DR history, so there are plenty of ideas out there to "borrow." But that's not H-M's style. They put in the work and created something funny and fresh. Bravo!

That impressive creativity mostly makes up for the uninspired "NASA-inspired pillow" line, which is too close to that old groaner "Space Age" for my liking. (For years, I was on a mission to eradicate the phrase from all DRTV marketing. See here, here and here. Heck, H-M even once joined me in the crusade.) At least in this variation, there’s a clever tie-in to the promise: "nano-coil fibers" create a pillow that "pushes against gravity" for a "feeling of plush weightlessness." Nice save.

You'll notice I haven't said much about the products. Did I mention I'm not a fan of mops or pillows? Mops have been on my 'bad categories' list for years. All of floor-care looks like a vast wasteland from the perspective of a DR historian. There are occasional hits to be sure, but oh-so-many failures! At least Top Dog is working in an area where it has had some success before. (It was part of the second successful run of Smart Mop back in 2008-2009.) This mop is also reminiscent of Telebrands' One Sweep, which had two rollouts: once in 1999-2000 and once in 2004-2005. Old Gold for the win again.

As for pillows, I think of them like nonstick pans: There's a lot of potential if you can break through, but good luck trying to guess what pitch is going to do the trick. The only good news is that no one has built an insurmountable lead in pillows like Emson has built in pans. Contour was trying, but this Top Dog success proves that it's anyone's game. Or no one's.

March 02, 2022

Industry News: Copper Fit, Emson Win 2021 AdSphere Awards

DRMetrix has announced the winners of its sixth annual AdSphere Awards. In the short-form category, IdeaVillage's COPPER FIT won Brand of the Year again, this time for its Copper Fit Never Lost Face Mask campaign.

Meanwhile, on the heels of being named your 2021 True Top Marketer, EMSON won Advertiser of the Year. This is the company's fourth year in a row.

Congratulations to the winners!

The awards presentation will take place next month at PDMI EAST 2022 in Miami Beach.

Click here for more information on the AdSphere Awards.

February 16, 2022

Breaking News: He's Baaack!

A special announcement from Vince Offer.

In the coming weeks, I'll have more information about his new show. Until then, here's the trailer.

February 14, 2022

NEW New & True

I don't know about you, but I'm kinda bored of the features from last year. For instance, when it comes to the monthly True Top 10, it feels a lot like what fellow New Jerseyan Bon Jovi said: "It's all the same. Only the names have changed."

As a result, I've decided to stop publishing that particular ranking. We'll all keep score and high-five once a year when I post the True Top 50, OK?

The other feature I used to do last year was called "New & True." If you recall, it was a post about one new campaign that had made it to the top of the charts. I thought it was informative, but the concept needs a little refreshing.

And so, I propose a new "New & True." Since you guys seem to like lists, it will start with a list like this one:

  1. Copper Fit Arch Relief (IdeaVillage/Blue Reef)

  2. Sharper Image Calming Heat Neck Wrap

  3. Handy Heater Turbo Heat (Ontel)

  4. GraniteStone Emerald Green (Emson/Hutton-Miller)

This is a list of every noteworthy new campaign that made it onto the DRMetrix report in recent weeks. The links go to the commercial on in case you aren't familiar with the item and want to see what it's all about. The names in parantheses are self-explanatory and designed to keep you informed about who's doing what. I won't always know who to credit, but I'll do my best and update these posts when people email me missing information (so check back if you're interested).

Finally, I plan to continue adding informative and entertaining commentary when I have something to share. To wit:

1. Copper Fit projects are going straight to rollout these days. There does not appear to be a typical DRTV testing period, which means IdeaVillage is likely working toward a different goal. By the way, this is the 28th Copper Fit-branded product I've logged since the brand launched in 2014.

2. Speaking of building brands, the Calming Heat Neck Wrap was the eighth entry under that brand when it first tested last spring. (Since then, I've logged two more.) Given that it has almost been a year, Allstar is obviously taking a more traditional approach and fully testing and developing Calming Heat items before rolling them out.

3. It's much the same story with Handy Heater, although here the strategy appears to be a very traditional 'new and improved' one. Turbo Heat is the third version Ontel has put out since launching the original unit (No. 46 on the 2016 True Top 50). If there's a line strategy, it's not a brand strategy (yet). That is, Ontel solved the seasonality limitation with Arctic Air for the warm months, but I haven't seen any attempts yet to roll up both lines under a 'mini HVAC' umbrella brand. Instead, Ontel appears to be extending the Arctic Air brand to other products, such as the Brella Shield (No. 40 on the 2021 True Top 50).

4. Sick of line and brand extensions yet? Too bad. Emson apparently wants to own every color in the spectrum and every material you could possibly use for a nonstick pan. If someone without a huge, successful line of pans tried to do this, we'd laugh. But Emson has so much brand awareness that introducing aqua blues and emerald greens seems like a pretty good idea.

I think back to my strong opinions when Gotham Steel launched so soon after Telebrands' Orgreenic had dominated the shelves and the airways. It's way too early, I thought. There's no way the market is ready for another line of nonstick pans. Well, since then, Emson has succesfully rolled out a bajillion new pans with no end in sight. I mean, these guys could probably even sell people on a pan made from volcanoes! Oh wait.

February 08, 2022

The 2021 True Top 50

With last year fully in the rearview mirror, it's time once again to tally up the numbers and reveal the biggest-spending campaigns of 2021, per DRMetrix.

(Click to see the complete chart)

You may notice that 2021 looks a lot like 2020. For one thing, the strategy of building branded lines has clearly consumed the industry — and it's no wonder. With the recent announcement that Tristar is selling off its cookware brands for up to $450 million (the second time in recent years a DRTV marketer has cashed in big), there's now a clear path to a lucrative exit for those who build successful brand portfolios.

Whatever the cause, single hits are becoming a thing of the past. Indeed, just five brands (Copper Fit, Bell+Howell, MicroTouch, Gotham Steel and GraniteStone) accounted for almost half of the top 50, and not one of the top 10 campaigns was for a one-off product.


Yet again EMSON is your 2021 True Top Marketer. The company exceeded even last year's astounding output with 18 campaigns in the top 50 (more than 1/3 of the chart). This is now Emson's fourth title, and the firm has been AdSphere's "Advertiser of the Year" for several years running. In other words, Emson is the undisputed champion of short form.

Here's the complete 'Big Five' ranking:

  1. Emson
  3. IdeaVillage
  5. Telebrands
  7. Allstar
  9. Ontel

For those paying attention, that's the same ranking as 2020. Yet while Emson had four more top 50 campaigns than last time, IdeaVillage, Telebrands and Allstar each had two fewer campaigns. Ontel held steady at three campagins.


Speaking of undisputed champions, HUTTON-MILLER is your 2021 True Top Producer. Like in 2020, they had the most variety in top-50 hits: the most brand variety (GraniteStone, Sharper Image, Bell+Howell, Fuller), the most category variety (cookware, kids, DIY, beauty) and the most hits with different clients (Allstar, Emson, Ontel, SAS and Top Dog). There's just nothing like 'em in the market today!

Below are the top five producers in our industry right now in ranked order:

  1. Hutton-Miller
  3. Blue Reef
  5. Cole
  7. Opfer
  9. Paddock

Blue Reef Productions had the most producer credits. Cole Media Group and Paddock Productions continue to deliver the hits year after year. And Opfer Productions deserves special mention because the company doubled its winners from the previous year, notching four campaigns in the top 50 — three of them in the top 10. Kudos to Scott Opfer and his team for being on a nice roll lately.

Congratulations to the champions of 2021!

February 07, 2022

Breaking News: Tristar Sells Appliance & Cookware Business for Up to $450 Million

Spectrum Brands announced Friday that it will buy Tristar's appliance and cookware business for up to $450 million. The portfolio includes the Emeril Everyday, PowerXL and Copper Chef brands.

According to the press release announcing the acquisition:

[The companies] signed a definitive agreement to acquire the home appliances and cookware categories ... for $325 million, in cash, at closing, up to $100 million, in cash, if certain gross profit targets are achieved in calendar year 2022 and another $25 million, in cash or equity of the combined business, if certain other gross profit targets are achieved in calendar year 2023.

The transaction is expected to close within the next 90 days.

The release also reveals the brands Spectrum is buying had "net sales totaling $546 million in last twelve months ending December 31, 2021," a growth of 85 percent over the last three years.

Congratulations to Keith & Anjali Mirchandani and the entire Tristar team!

Tristar is the second DRTV company in recent years to sell off its brands. IdeaVillage shook up the industry in March of 2019 when it sold the Finishing Touch and Flawless line to Church & Dwight in a deal valued at up to $900 million. In that deal, IdeaVillage received $475 million in cash with the possibility of earning an additional $425 million based on certain sales targets.

January 03, 2022

True Top 10 (December 2021)

Happy New Year, everyone!

Here is your last monthly True Top 10 of 2021:

  1. Copper Fit Never Lost Mask (IdeaVillage/Blue Reef)
  3. Granitestone Blue (Emson/Hutton-Miller)
  5. MicroTouch Titanium Max (IdeaVillage/Blue Reef)
  7. Bell+Howell Bionic Spotlight (Emson/Opfer)
  9. MicroTouch Titanium Trim (IdeaVillage/Blue Reef)
  11. Bell+Howell Bionic Floodlight (Emson/Opfer)
  13. Pixicade (Allstar/Hutton-Miller)
  15. ID Police (Telebrands/Kerrmercials)
  17. GraniteStone Stackmaster (Emson/Hutton-Miller)
  19. Copper Fit Ice Knee Sleeves (IdeaVillage/Blue Reef)

In a few weeks, I'll put together the final numbers and post my annual True Top 50.

Source: AdSphere™ brand rankings for the last media month.
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