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BY JORDAN PINE
Description: A butter sprayer
Main Pitch: “From solid butter to spray in
Main Offer: $39.99 for one
Bonus: Free shipping
Marketer: Allstar Products
Rating: 3 out of 5
From the data I’ve seen, consumers have
a strange affinity for butter — approaching
that of eggs or bacon. Yet while there have
been several near misses, there has never been
a true butter hit. The closest would be Ontel’s
Butter Butler, which skimmed the bottom of
the Jordan Whitney annual for two years (2001-
2002). A similar item tested three times from
2014 to 2015 but never rolled out (EZ Butter,
a.k.a. Butter Express). Will this be the one that
finally makes it big?
I’m not so sure. Despite the affinity, I find
it hard to believe people love butter enough
to spend $40 on this contraption. In addition,
most of the problems in this commercial seem
contrived to me. At least, they are easily solved
with a little care and a switch to spreadable
On the other hand, sometimes an item is so
cool, people skip the logic and just “gotta have
it.” Watching this product in action, I think this
could certainly be one of those times.
Description: A stress toy
Main Pitch: “The perfect solution to your fidgeting problems”
Main Offer: $10 for one
Bonus: Second one (just pay a separate fee)
Rating: 2 out of 5
I believe that expertise should
trump information when the two conflict. I recognize that some industry
veterans don’t agree with me, and
that they have good evidence to
support their point of view. We can all name hits the so-called experts thought couldn’t
possibly work. Indeed, this happens to me at least once per year.
This has led some in our industry to abandon their expertise completely and just
follow the information. That strikes me as a dangerous mistake. There is so much information out there, and much of it is of low quality. We can all name items that had great
live shopping or international sales information behind them, and yet ended up being
total dogs. So what to do?
One answer is to favor information over expertise when it is really strong. But this is
where the quality issue comes into play. Does it matter if an item blows out on QVC if the
translation rate between QVC and DRTV is one for 50? This brings me to Kickstarter and
the item in question. From what I’ve seen, Kickstarter fundraising numbers have close to
zero correlation to DRTV metrics. However, the information here is very strong. A version
of this product raised $6.4 million on Kickstarter. Yes, you read that right: $6.4 million. If
any Kickstarter project is going to translate into a DRTV hit, this is the one.
Of course, expertise says this product is all wrong for our business. Its obvious flaw
is that it’s too narrowly targeted. How many hard-core fidgets could there possibly be? Of
that small segment, how many will find this odd solution appealing? Finally, unless there
is a channel for fidgets I don’t know about, how will a mass-media marketer efficiently
reach these folks with advertising? These questions are why I ultimately had to give this
one a two-star rating (a.k.a. “unlikely to succeed”).
Before you reach your own conclusion, I should probably balance that impressive
Kickstarter number with an equally impressive number: 60 million. That’s the number of
times a particular pet washer’s video was viewed on Facebook in just two weeks in the
summer of 2015, according to Entrepreneur magazine. Yet when this viral-video success
became an “As Seen on TV” product, it did not live up to the hype.
We’ll see what happens this time. In fact, we’ll have two chances since Ontel is also
testing the item under the name Fidget Fun Block.
Rating: 3 out of 5 ; ; ; ; ;
Rating: 2 out of 5 ; ; ; ; ;