You guys seem to be enjoying my article on 5 infomercial products that failed to live up to our expectations (thank you for all your reads and comments). It got me thinking, though, about why we actually fell for these gimmicks in the first place. The answer is obvious: The Pitchman!
Without a good sales pitch, these things were just inanimate objects that usually look ridiculous. But when it's sold to us by the likes of these following 6 gentleman.... Before you know it, you were on the phone trying to get that package deal for the "first 100 callers!"1. Billy Mays
We have to start with Billy Mays, the OG - the triple OG of infomercial pitchmen. I was saddened to hear of his passing back in 2009, though I can't say I miss his booming voice waking me out of a stupor when I'd fall asleep in front of the TV.
But that yelling was precisely what worked. Maybe it scared you into buying Orange Clean and Mighty Mend It. Or, you hoped and prayed he would just stop yelling if you agreed to buy a set of Hercules Hooks, though you have a perfectly good stash of nails waiting in your tool box.
Point is, Mays was killin' it in the infomerical game, which was why he and fellow pitchman Anthony Sullivan were featured in their own documentary, PitchMen by the Discovery Channel. Sullivan carries on Mays' legacy as the new face of OxiClean, but he can never replace the one and only Billy Mays.2. Offer Shlomi
I know, it's Vince the Shamowow Guy.... but his real name is Offer Shlomi. What Shlomi lacked in volume, he more than made up in his abilty to talk non-stop at top speed.
It seemed like he could go on for hours, spilling things and wiping them up, while saying crazy lines like "you know the Germans always make good stuff". This all sounds like nonsense, but it's designed to get you energized about the product. Believe me, it's no easy feat getting people pumped up about a really big microfiber cloth.
If you need further proof of Schlomi's ability to sell-sell-sell, just ask Eminem. They collaborated in 2010 for an absolutely hilarious commercial to sell Eminem's "Recovery" album. Most people thought this was a joke, but it was a very real commercial that parodied the nonsensical, over-the-top nature of infomercials.3. Ron Popeil
This guy appeared more legitimate than most other pitchmen because he's an actual inventor. While he's known for numerous inventions ranging from the Showtime Rotisserie to the Smokeless Ashtray, he's best recognized for his catchphrases originating his informercials.
Frankly, I have to give mad props to Popeil, because I don't know anybody who hasn't heard the phrase "Just set it, and forget it!" That's from the Rotisserie infomercial, though he's hawked millions of other appliances, including the Chop-O-Matic, which looks like a space age version of the Slap Chop.
Popeil also set the standard for live audience infomericals that looked like talk shows. He always had the audience on the edge of their seats with catchphrases like "But wait! There's more!" Of course, people make fun of him all the time, but with a net worth of $200 million, he's laughing all the way to the bank.4. Billy Blanks
Unlike our other pitchmen, Billy Blanks only sold one product/ concept - Tae Bo. It sounds stupid now, but apparently, no one before Blanks thought to combine Taekwondo and boxing. So haters gonna hate, but BIlly rode the Tae Bo train all the way to a gross profit of $80 million to $130 million.
Blanks had long been a motivational and charismatic bodyguard/ fitness trainer prior to his infomercials. However, his Tae Bo fame brought him a slew of A list clients in the late 80s, including Paula Abdul.
I'm not sure why Tae Bo died out, but maybe people finally realized how weird it looks punching and kicking the air in front of you as if you were fighting the Invisible Man.5. Tony Little
"You can do it!!!" Remember Tony Little yelling this out like a battle cry as he went full force on The Gazelle? That guy had enough energy to power Bangladesh during monsoon season.
While Little sounds like a nutjob, he's actually a very smart businessman who uses a technique similar to Richard Simmons, where they connect with the audience through their own weight and fitness struggles.
Little's infomercials always included his story about a car accident in 1983, which caused him to gain weight and lose his once toned physique. His fitness comeback motivated him to become "America's Personal Trainer" though a series of hyper, in-your-face infomericals you couldn't ignore if you tried.
He may be zany and annoying, but Little has clearly touched a nerve with the American public. Believe it or not, he's generated about $4 billion in sales just from his infomercials alone.6. Matthew Lesko
Is this guy still around? I mean, I know he's still alive, but I'm wondering if he's still screaming like a lunatic about "Free Money" from the government. Sounds like a welfare scam, right? He swears it's not, but to this day, I still have no idea how this works.
There are, of course, federal grants for all types of people and situations, but I can't imagine you'd qualify for so many of them that it becomes some sort of passive income. Plus, I don't really trust a guy who dresses like the Joker. That suit in the above image, by the way, is one of his more conservative outfits.
To be fair, I'm not just coming after him for his clothes. He's actually been labeled as "misleading" by the New York State Consumer Protection Board in 2004. In fact, for his system to work, you probably would have to be committing some level of benefits fraud, which never ends well.
Still, it's amazing how many people bought into this idea that the government had loads of money just lying around for the taking if you can figure out their secrets, which are all in Lesko's books. In that case, why is he selling you books through an infomercial when he's already unlocked the secret to everlasting wealth? Just sayin'.