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Dr. Irwin Smigel Taps Guthy-Renker

The Manhattan-based celebrity cosmetic dentist and infomercial powerhouse are creating an infomercial for the creator of Supersmile teeth whitening products.

Dr. Irwin Smigel, the Manhattan-based celebrity cosmetic dentist, and infomercial powerhouse Guthy-Renker are busy creating an infomercial for the creator of Supersmile teeth whitening products, which is scheduled for a soft launch in February.

This story first appeared in the December 2, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Earlier this year, Smigel had planned to self-fund the infomercial and handle the back end but ultimately chose to partner with Guthy-Renker, which had been pursuing the Smigels for four years. The way Greg Renker sees it, the New York-based company, which has sales of roughly $20 million through outlets such as QVC and 1,500 stores nationwide, has the opportunity to triple sales in a year’s time. Lucia Smigel, wife of Dr. Smigel, who also serves as president and chief executive officer for the company, said abandoning their idea of handling the infomercial themselves was a hard one, but ultimately a smart one.

“Guthy-Renker is supposed to be the best. They’re the experts,” she said, explaining that inventory and fulfillment isn’t her specialty.

“We have always wanted to be in business with them as we have always recognized the credibility that Dr. Smigel has. His credibility in aesthetic dentistry, that alone is a launchpad,” said Renker, adding, “The product is easy to understand, it works and it has done well on QVC. We pay close attention to that.”

The soft launch will test various prices, bonuses and products and will last for about 60 days. Products being considered for the informercial include Supersmile’s Professional Whitening System, Whitening Pre-Rinse, Activating Rods and Tongue Cleaner. An edited version based on the soft launch is expected to launch soon after.

Lucia Smigel is optimistic about what the infomercial may potentially do for the 25-year-old brand, quipping, “If it does anything like Wen,” she’ll be happy. Wen is the hair care line by Chaz Dean and is one of Guthy-Renker’s $100 million-plus success stories, along with Proactiv Solution and Meaningful Beauty. But Supersmile brings a first to the infomercial giant: Guthy-Renker does not own the brand or even a piece of it; it will only gain a share of what sells on the infomercial.

“We are partners in the success of the infomercial,” confirmed Renker. The Smigels were not ready to sell the company, or even a piece of it, said Lucia Smigel.

What attracted Guthy-Renker to Supersmile is its retention rate with consumers. “We have been on QVC for eight years and we have great retention rate with the auto delivery. That’s what made Guthy-Renker look at us and want to work with us for the last four years,” said Lucia Smigel. Supersmile’s retention rate is second only to Proactiv, she said. She’s learned a lot over the past year while working with Guthy-Renker. “The people who watch QVC aren’t the same people who watch infomercials. QVC viewers go to a destination. They tune into it. The people who watch infomercials are the surfers. If it catches their eye, they stop to watch,” she said.

Supersmile’s infomercial will be comprised mainly of professional testimonials by Dr. Smigel’s colleagues, and will of course feature Dr. Smigel, known as the Father of Cosmetic Dentistry (he invented teeth bonding in the Seventies) as well as his daughter, Bellanca Rutter, who is an attorney and serves as executive vice president for the company. Unlike other Guthy-Renker infomercials, it will not be celebrity heavy.

“That’s the difference. The credibility is really there. The product works,” said Lucia Smigel.