PedEgg foot-care device hatches surprising sales

ByABC News
August 24, 2008, 11:53 PM

— -- It's both fascinating and revolting at the same time: a cheese-grater-like device that shaves skin off feet to make them softer, smoother and better looking.

Since the October launch of the PedEgg, millions of people have been exposed to its cringe-inducing but oddly effective marketing message.

Short-form infomercials that air 120 times a day show the egg-shaped contraption in use (complete with close-ups of a user dumping shaved skin out of PedEgg's "convenient storage compartment" into the trash). Print and Internet ads have upped the exposure of the home pedicure tool, which is designed to "perfectly fit in the palm of your hand," according to maker TeleBrands.

A publicity coup came when TeleBrands CEO AJ Khubani got to show a national TV audience how it works when he used it on the soles of Sherri Shepherd, a host on ABC's The View in December.

The media exposure and continued popularity of shoe fashions that give feet plenty of exposure have generated sales. PedEgg, at $9.99 suggested retail price, has gleaned more than $40 million in mass-market retail sales excluding Wal-Mart, which does not report, according to Information Resource. And that doesn't include sales from direct-response infomercials or home shopping network HSN.

TeleBrands which also sells other "as seen on TV" products, such as a battery-powered stick-up light bulb and a motorized furniture duster doesn't give out sales information. Khubani does say that typically 80% to 90% of his product sales come from bricks-and-mortar stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and even Staples.

But the PedEgg's success also comes with some controversy.

Two models, one male and one female, featured in a PedEgg ad filed a lawsuit against TeleBrands representatives claiming, among other things, that the company used unauthorized images of them. Another company, Microplane, claims that the PedEgg infringes on its own patent for an orb-shaped callous remover.

Khubani defends his company in both cases. He says that TeleBrands' contract with the actors allows for "unlimited use" of their images. Their lawyer had no comment beyond the formal complaint. As for the patent infringement, he says his company "does a thorough" patent investigation before it launches products.