7 Infomercials You Laughed At That Were Actually Genius
The basis of late night entertainment, infomercials fill in those lost hours between one and four-am.
From the absurd to the downright impractical, these commercials almost always seem like a joke rather than a real sale.
Of course, that’s not the case.
Infomercials are most definitely created with sales in mind.
While they boast products that are almost too practical (the Snuggie, anyone?), they actually offer goods that are downright timesaving and helpful for the common person.
With that in mind, separating the great from the incredibly funny can be difficult. Lucky for you, I’ve done the sorting for you.
The Set It and Forget It
The Ronco Showtime Rotisserie was a breakthrough in kitchen appliances. Not only did it allow consumers to slow-cook rotisserie style chicken, turkey, pork, burgers, and more, it also let them forget about it and leave. Much like the popular Crockpot, the “Set It and Forget It” introduced new means of cooking for the time-crunched household. With timer applications, the rotisserie can be left in the morning before work and will shut off after the cook-time has passed. Another selling feature? The rotisserie allowed for healthier alternatives to traditionally cooked meat. With a tray on the bottom, the machine caught drippings, fat, and skin as they were cooked off the meat, making lower fat alternative meals. Popular for its catch phrase, “Set it and forget it!”, the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie was mocked in homes across the nation—that is until people tried it. Now, the original slow cooker rotisserie is available nationwide and is a bestselling home appliance. So mock away, but when you walk into the kitchen after a long day of work to the smell of freshly cooked pork loin, we’ll see who’s laughing then.
Introduced in 2002, the Roomba was at the basis of lazy—or so we thought. The famous infomercial showed a circular robot-esque vacuum cleaner that spent its days Roomba-ing around your home. It cleaned up lint, dust, pet hair, dander, and most anything else that was seen on your home floors. At its basic level, the Roomba would save consumers time by constantly cleaning the floors, eliminating the need for traditional vacuum cleaners. As an added bonus, the Roomba was silent, had motion detectors to keep from bouncing into doors or dropping off walls, and used a rechargeable battery. Then, the Roomba struggled to collect too much dust and died frequently, finding itself lost in one room or another. Of course, the first models failed to pick up all of the loose debris on the floor, but these days the Roomba is a regular time saving machine. With a docking port that can be programmed to operate on certain days and certain times before relocating itself into its charging dock, the Roomba has seen great advancements. Now, it is the perfect mechanism for keeping homes dust free and pets entertained.
Trusted by millions of people, OxiClean was introduced as the stain remover to beat all stain removers. People rolled their eyes, scoffed in their seats, and held genuine apprehension toward the foamy detergent-like substance that seemingly revealed every stain thrown its way. Yet, somehow since its founding in 1999, OxiClean has become a staple in households across the world. With over ten different products, the line has proven itself to be a sort of miracle stain remover. So even though we may all have sat at home, mocking the enthusiasm that the late-and-great Billy Mays shared for the product, it would seem that OxiClean has laughed itself all the way to the bank.
One of my husband’s all time favorite infomercials is of the man watching television in bed when his wife bolts awake angrily because she’s trying to sleep. While the man smiles sheepishly at his wife, she quickly grabs for the remote and turns the TV off for the night. Wouldn’t it be great if you could watch TV in bed without bothering someone else? Lucky for you, TV Ears were the solution. The next shot shows the man sitting happily in bed with his TV Ears on and his wife beside him, fast asleep. The concept is high-frequency earphones that when worn can pick up on miniscule sounds, such as a near-mute television. This allows the wearer to enjoy their late-night shows and everyone else to catch up on sleep. Though the product was seen as something of a joke, the method actually worked, allowing married couples everywhere to have what they want.
What Infomercial Product Is Your Favorite?
The Hanger Cascarder
The joke is easy, the messy closet, that when opened has article after article of clothing piling onto the door opener. It’s a real nuisance having that much clutter, and an even bigger one having too many clothes to fit onto the hangers. Enter the Hanger Cascader. The idea is simple, relying on only a hook, with a drop down rod with holes to hang the hangers filled with clothes. By utilizing the Hanger Cascader, consumers were promised more than 50% more closet space, and better-looking clothes (less cramped space means more breathing room for fabrics). While it seemed like a no-brain idea, something about it stuck. The product is now available through online retailers, QCV, and Amazon.
Hailed for its promise to provide a wide assortment of workouts in small spaces, the Bowflex was widely bought after it premiered on infomercials. Using lightweight polymer rods, it was shown to replace an entire home gym. The running joke, however, was when everyone on the block owned a Bowflex and yet no one on the block thought to use it. Instead, the piece of workout equipment went unused in the corner by most people, gathering dust throughout the year. Whether or not people actually used the workout machine that defined an infomercial generation is beside the point. The point, instead, was made by the highly toned and fit models who swore by its results. For those who did use the Bowflex correctly and frequently were awarded with slimmer figures and a shapely physique, while those who did not saw their hard earned money sitting as a lump in the garage.
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The Baker's Edge
Not just an infomercial, the Baker’s Edge was seen on Shark Tank, boasting over a million dollars in sales. The product seemed easy enough to roll your eyes at—a standard, non-stick brownie pan with a twist. The twist was in the not-so-standard design. With a z-shaped pattern down the middle, the pan promised crisped and browned edges on every brownie in the pan, not just the “edge pieces”. It seemed like something of a novelty and not likely to last beyond that. For people like myself, however, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get my favorite piece of the brownie pan all the time. No matter the reason behind the purchase of a Baker’s Edge, the fact remains that while some may laugh and roll their eyes, the Baker’s Edge team are the ones laughing now.
Though laughed at, mocked, or teased, the two things each of these infomercial products has in common are a track record of incredible sales and an outstanding product. So the next time you consider laughing at a late-night infomercial, consider the realistic implications that it provides and the way that it can save you—and your family—time, money, space, and even the perfect brownie.
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