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'As Seen on TV' Success Stories

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“As Seen On TV” Success Stories

Source: Telebrands

A.J. Khubani founded TeleBrands in 1983, on a modest budget of $20,000. Today, it's clear that it paid off. TeleBrands does blockbuster business, selling such products as PastaBoat and Plaque Blast through direct response television infomercials.

TeleBrands is the dominant player in the "As Seen on TV" sales category. This is appropriate, since Khubani himself designed the ubiquitous "As Seen on TV" logo, according to Manish Israni, vice president of market research.

Today, its products are sold in such retail outlets as Wal-Mart and Target, a testament to their popularity. However, despite many successes, Israni conceded that TeleBrands hasn't always gotten it right.

"We passed on the Snuggie," he said. "A.J. and the rest of the team looked at it and said, 'This is silly, that's never going to work.' It ended up being a runaway success. But that happens in this business, you never know what's going to work."

Despite missing the mark occasionally, TeleBrands' formula has served it well over the years. Using approximate sales figures provided by the company, CNBC.com presents a list of its 10 best-selling products. Read ahead to find out what these "As Seen on TV" success stories are.

By Daniel Bukszpan
Posted 8 Feb. 2013

10. InstaBulb

Source: Telebrands

Total sales: $80 million

InstaBulb is a battery-operated light bulb that can be installed anywhere. The user has only to peel and stick the base to the wall, slide in the shatterproof bulb, pull the cord and voila! Light that's cool to the touch, with no electrician involved.

"It puts light exactly where you need it," Israni said. "There are a lot of locations where you don't want a permanent fixture, so you can just put it on and you don't have to worry about wires or batteries." The InstaBulb has sold 8 million units.

9. Static Duster

Source: Telebrands

Total sales: $80 million

In direct response television advertising, some categories consistently do well, such as exercise, pet and beauty products. Israni said another strong category is cleaning. Take the Static Duster, which has sold 8 million units.

This household product distinguished itself as a high performer early on in TeleBrands' history. "The Static Duster is a very exciting product," he said. "It's very high quality and extremely competitively priced."

8. Aluma Wallet

Source: Telebrands

Total sales: $90 million

The Aluma Wallet is an aluminum wallet described on its website as "indestructible" and "totally trendy." Water-resistant and available in either leopard or zebra print patterns, it allows its owner to hold cash and credit cards in a compact manner. But wait, there's more!

"It resists RFID [radio-frequency identification] signals that have been used to steal people's identity," Israni said. "So if you have your credit card in this particular wallet, your identity is safe." The Aluma Wallet has sold 8 million units.

7. Windshield Wonder

Source: Telebrands

Total sales: $90 million

Cleaning the inside of a car windshield can involve a lot of irritating straining and stretching. Windshield Wonder addresses this conundrum by placing a pivoting microfiber cloth at the end of a long handle, making it easy to clean the windshield from the comfort of the driver's seat.

The Windshield Wonder was pitched to TeleBrands by an at-home inventor, and it has sold 9 million units. Israni attributed its robust sales to its simple concept and effectiveness in addressing an everyday problem. "Windshield Wonder made it really easy to clean the inside, and that really resonated with consumers," he said.

6. Audubon Clock

Source: Telebrands

Total sales: $120 million

The Audubon Clock marks each hour with the sound of a different bird. That's it. But as tempting as it might be to dismiss it as just a novelty, keep in mind that it sold 6 million units, far exceeding the company's expectations.

"Novelties are typically tough in this business, so when we saw the sales, we were pleasantly surprised," Israni said. "We did not expect it to do as well as it did, but the whole concept of different birds with different sounds really resonated."

5. OrGreenic Pan

Source: Telebrands

Total sales: $140 million

The OrGreenic Pan is a nonstick, ceramic-coated pan that allows the user to cook without using oil, grease or butter. With 7 million units sold, it's currently one of the company's best-selling products.

"It's a product that's high quality," Israni said. "The idea is that if a product is competitively priced, then it's not as good, but OrGreenic is as good as, or better than, a $100 pan." The company has expanded the line, and now makes a ceramic-coated pancake maker called the Flip Jack.

4. AmberVision

Source: Telebrands

Total sales: $150 million

If any single product put TeleBrands on the map, it's AmberVision. These sunglasses filter out ultraviolet rays, making everything clearer for the wearer. Despite going on to sell 15 million units, retailers initially refused to carry them when they were introduced in the 1980s.

"It did well in print media, but we had to sell it at retail," Israni said. "At first they didn't want to sell it because the whole concept was new, but Herman's [sporting goods store] finally took it, and all 200 pieces sold out in a week. Retailers began to understand the value of 'As Seen on TV,' as far as what they can do in store. It kind of paved the way for products to be sold in retail."

3. Smart Mop

Source: Telebrands

Total sales: $150 million

The Smart Mop has flaps that allow the user to clean it without touching the head. Many similar mops have been made since its introduction, but Israni said that it was revolutionary when it was introduced, and that it meets certain criteria that have been instrumental in its sales of 6 million units.

"The key parameters we look for are mass appeal and simple solutions for everyday problems," Israni said. "Any time you have a product where something new happens that hasn't happened before, that's very exciting. It comes in and changes whole dynamics of the category."

2. PediPaws

Source: Telebrands

Total sales: $180 million

Anyone who has ever tried to clip a pet's claws will probably agree that it's a struggle for both the pet and the owner, as many traditional clippers cut into the animal's paw. The PediPaws nail trimmer uses a motorized emery wheel to file the nail instead of cutting it, eliminating the problem.

Nine million people have bought it, a testimony to its inventor's ingenuity. "The idea is finding simple solutions to common problems, competitively priced," Israni said.

1. Ped Egg

Source: Telebrands

Total sales: $450 million

With 45 million units sold, the Ped Egg callous remover for feet is easily TeleBrands' most successful product. "The Ped Egg is our flagship product," Israni said. "Typically, products in direct response have a shelf life of one or two years, but these keep selling after five years."

Like many of the company's other products, its success is attributed to the fact that it addressed a common problem inexpensively. "It falls into the key parameters of all our products," he said. "It solves an everyday problem, it costs $10, so people keep coming back to it."