No Pressure Infomercials

I have become a connoisseur of infomercials.

Those of us who don’t sleep well know about a world of entertainment that those who do sleep well don’t. Infomercials.

The vast wasteland of middle-of-the-night TV is laden with products you didn’t know you needed.

And, just like TV shows, infomercials have a regular season. Infomercial season begins around Thanksgiving, peaks prior to Christmas, and continues through January.

I’m especially fond of the ads that feature any type of cooking device. A conical-shaped cooker that looks like a spaceship and can cook a steak from frozen to perfection in minutes is just irresistible. It also might explain why I eat in the middle of the night.

This year’s cooking standout is the Power Pressure Cooker XL with “on board technology”.

Perfect for the family who needs to cook 100 meatballs as quickly as possible.

Ron Popeil is 79 now, but his company, Ronco, gave birth to direct-to-consumer marketing through television when cable TV was in its infancy.

The idea was simple. Buy up cheap TV time during the middle of the night and on weekends when stations couldn’t sell the ads anyway.

What do you do on television for 30 minutes when you own the slot? The answer is you sell whatever you want. And people buy it. Lots of people.

My first recollection of being completely enamored with an infomercial was The Pocket Fisherman. I didn’t fish then and I don’t much now, but there was something impressive about watching a well-dressed businessman suddenly stop his sedan on the side of the road, take out and unfold a small fishing rod, and begin catching fish that were so large, they’re normally only found at a state fish hatchery.

I’m still not sure what he used for bait.

Back then, I watched infomercials because I was young and stayed up all night. Now, I watch infomercials because I’m old and stay up all night.

Without a doubt, infomercials have come into their own. They even have awards for them. The Electronic Retailing Association gives Moxie Awards each year. Completely appropriate since “Moxie” means “Force of character, determination, or nerve”.

And if you think about it, it does take a lot of nerve to believe you can sell a meatball pressure cooker to an insomniac for three easy payments of $33.99. Seriously, who in the world would actually buy that?

If you’re not busy tomorrow at 3 a.m., stop by for some meatballs. I have plenty.

©2014 John Moore


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