What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen sold on TV?
Now I’m not talking about products advertised on television and sold in stores (like Head On.) I’m talking about products sold only on infomercials, you know those paid programs you’ve watched late at night or on Sunday mornings. Working at TMG Strategies I once had to do a pop culture project on infomercials, so I’ve seen a lot of ridiculous products (Kevin Trudeau anyone?) While I give credit for an entrepreneur/inventor for trying hard to sell his product, it unfortunately comes with the stink that “As Seen On TV” comes with.
If you have an Ab Coaster collecting dust in the corner or a Rocket Chef that was cool to use the first two weeks you had it and is now in a cabinet; you know what I’m talking about. Many of these products claim to change your life: “Lose weight fast!” “Get Rich Quick!” “Make That Certain Part Of The Body Bigger!” The skeptic could say, “if these products actually worked would it be all over the news or perhaps sold at my local store?” It’s the fact that it’s a product “not available in stores” that makes it as undesirable as a bootleg copy of Avatar sitting on a bootlegger’s blanket in New York City.
Well it appears that the reputation of these products are changing as more and more products make the transition from infomercial joke to hot seller at Target. I noticed my co-worker Mallory reading a story in the Wall Street Journal titled, “As Seen On TV… and in Aisle 5.” It made the point that products like the Snuggie, Bumpits, and Shamwow! are examples of how more and more infomercial products are transitioning from TV to a store shelf. What were once pop culture jokes are now becoming household novelties.
Take the Snuggie for instance, when I first heard about it people were making fun of the TV advertising and the fact it was a product that made you look like a kool-aid drinking zealot waiting for Comet Hale-Bopp. I was laughing with everyone as we poked fun at the silly ad. Now I own one. The product you could only see on TV or on YouTube is now being sold at Best Buy. Everybody still jokes about it (did you see the Snuggie gag during the Oscars?) However who is the joke really on now that 18 million Snuggies have been sold?
I think bumpits is the equivalent of stuffing your bra- but for hair. However my friend Celia owns a set and was joking about feeling extra sassy when she inserted the biggest under her hair during a show. I walked into Costco the other day and saw that I could buy Shamwows in bulk. We used to be wary of these products- so what changed?
Once a product hits a store it gains a certain credibility, you are willing to give it a try and if you don’t like it you know you can return it. Are these stores buying into these ridiculous products believing that a colon cleanse actually works- or is it something else? Maybe stores are looking to peddle out what’s making the buzz, looking to sell what’s been hot in popular culture.
I bet half of the Snuggies sold in stores were purchased as gag gifts (and the other half purchased by unsuspecting parents to be given to their children- thanks Mom!) Whichever reason it is, there is one thing for certain, the reputation stigma of infomercials is no longer an insurmountable barrier. If you can get enough buzz for your TV product perhaps it can become the next Slap Chop.