Schlock Jock

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In the Bizarro World of direct-response, A.J. Khubani's company went bankrupt during the dot-com bubble and had a heyday following 9/11.

The countercyclical business is also highly counterintuitive to conventional brand marketers. And the 44-year-old founder-CEO of Telebrands-marketer of the Smart Mop, AmberVision sunglasses and more-believes the blue-chippers crowding into his space will have trouble learning the rules.

As dot-com advertisers drove DRTV rates up in 2000, the media crunch helped send the company into Chapter 11. Now it's slimmed from 250 to 40 employees into a largely virtual marketer designed to test about 50 concepts annually to find three to five winners.

His latest is Doggy Steps,a new trick to let old dogs easily climb onto or into sofas, beds and cars. He expects it to generate $60 million to $150 million in retail sales. Like all his new products, he expects the product to be widely knocked off within a year. He'll bail out as soon as he sees sales decline, then move onto his next product.

"P&G doesn't want a schlocky commercial," Mr. Khubani said. "That's fortunate for us, because we don't want the P&G's doing what we do. All we care about is selling."
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