huge winner on our hands. Most of the
time, I’m right. More often, Sully’s right.”
The product — sold as a dozen balls
per box — was designed to minimize the
use of detergent in a load of laundry by in-
cluding the balls in the washing machine.
“Instead of using a cup of Tide, you use a
teaspoon, and these 12 Scrub Balls to agi-
tate and clean clothes without damaging
colors. It was a great demo,” McAlister
says. “We convinced HSN to buy a lot —
I mean a lot — of Scrub Balls.”
He says that HSN even bought a full-
page ad in USA Today promoting the ap-
pearance and that they teamed with May-
tag to build two clear washing machines
to show the Scrub Balls at work. “It was
just beautiful. The balls were all primary
colors — red, yellow, blue — and we were
sure it was going to kill.”
The day the product hit the air, how-
ever, things didn’t go as planned. “I’m sit-
ting in the studio, watching the clock and
the units-sold counter,” McAlister says.
“Six minutes, seven, eight — 12 minutes
in, and we’ve sold 18 pieces. I’m thinking
there’s something wrong with the computer. Sully’s pitching like crazy, and the
president of the network is standing next
to me befuddled. We wound up selling 36
McAlister laughs, calling it “the worst
bomb I’ve ever had.” He adds, “We didn’t
even test the DRTV commercial, just
dumped the inventory to odd lots retailers
and got out.”
The lesson? “Don’t ever fall in love
with your own product,” McAlister says.
“Hundreds of people were involved in
that project, and they were all sold on it.
It’s something inventors need to hear be-
cause they fall in love with their products,
understandably. But it’s also something
even the most successful marketer always
needs to remember.” ;
Resides: Newtown, Pa.
Education: Bachelor’s degree, Massachusetts College of Liberal
Arts, North Adams, Mass.
Company Founded: 1993, as Media Enterprises
De;ning Moments: “I’ve got four beautiful kids. The good thing
is that I can leave my of;ce and go watch my kids play — we’re a
big sports family. My wife and I, whenever they have a game,
one of us — at least — is at the game. When I grew up,
my dad was in the Air Force, and he just couldn’t
make it to our games very often. My kids and my
family are everything.
From a business perspective, as far as what
changed my life the most, it’s when I left QVC. It
opened up the rest of the world really quickly.
When I got bought out, it was the best thing
that ever happened to me. It just changed my
life dramatically overnight, because now I’m
doing everything I did for them, but I’m doing
it for myself — and I’m making all the money.
And because of that, the world opened up
Greatest Career Accomplishment: “I’ve had
so many good things. But, at this point in
time, it’s creating Top Dog. We’ve had such
good success since we became Top Dog.
Creating that logo — with Digital Target
Marketing — and bringing our team together
under the same roof has allowed us to ;re
on all cylinders. And we’re doing it smartly. By
doing one commercial every three months, we
don’t need 10 hits. We have eight employees,
including me, so it’s scaled just right to keep the
overhead where we need it to be.”
President & CEO, Top Dog Direct, Trevose, Pa.