Shake Weight infomercial now available for private DVD viewing

Posted on Mon Apr 19 2010

Last August, BrandFreak's T.L. Stanley called the Shake Weight infomercial "the most unintentionally obscene product demo ever" and speculated that "plenty of non-females with no interest in toning their triceps are ogling this clip." Now, Saturday Night Live has also taken note of the, uh, unintended implications of the ad. A fake informercial that aired on last week's show advertises a DVD of the Shake Weight spot for men's private viewing. Personally, I don't understand what everyone's talking about. This looks like a fine way to tone the arms, and it probably does a good job on the hands, too.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Sure, you adore your Snuggie. But have you tried Pajama Jeans?

Posted on Tue Feb 9 2010

When it comes to comfort, there's no shortage of ridiculous products that take the concept to the next level. You know and love the Snuggie sleeved blanket, which at first seemed like a practical joke. Well, here's an even better one for you: Pajama Jeans. This revolutionary product combines the style of designer jeans with the comfort of pajamas. At least, that's the claim made in the Pajama Jeans infomercial, which reminds me of a Saturday Night Live skit. "They look like they were made by some European designer," the voiceover says, as women model the product in various scenarios. Seriously? The jeans look exactly like the name implies: Stretch jeans that you would find at a discount store, not on the runway. The women in the infomercial don't look like they would ever wear Pajama Jeans or complete a "whole outfit" with a gray T-shirt that comes free with the purchase. It's pretty funny when someone simplifies already casual (and comfortable) apparel like jeans. And if I had to choose, I'd rather throw on a pair of sweats.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

Subaru owners can wash filthy selves off with Outback detergent

Posted on Mon Oct 5 2009

Subaru, the auto brand that seems uniquely positioned to withstand a recession, is now getting into Procter & Gamble's turf with a detergent line. The Japanese automaker quietly released Outback Detergent with an infomercial. The line is aimed at Subaru's rough-and-tumble fans, who soil their clothes on rugged mountain treks and such. OK, the detergent line isn't real, but it is a funny and flattering portrayal of people who buy Subarus. The infomercial, created by Carmichael Lynch is pretty spot-on. "Shelly, do me a favor, smell this," says the host, handing off a pair of shorts. "Smells great," Shelly coos. The host beams: "I wore these exact shorts on a 50-mile mountain bike ride before coming in here today!" "I want this in a perfume," says Shelly, who then hands the shorts off to the audience to sniff. Other vignettes show a nature photographer doing his thing ("Who's a sexy bird?" he calls to a fake sparrow) and a guy rappelling off a cliff who ends up in a neck brace. The weird thing is, a detergent for Outback types isn't that bad an idea. Maybe L.L. Bean should look into it.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Do not buy the Shake Weight for your mother, sister or daughter

Posted on Tue Aug 4 2009

Two things came to mind immediately while watching this infomercial: 1) That gizmo might just work; and 2) Holy moly, that's the most unintentionally obscene product demo ever. Seems that Shake Weight is no joke (it even says, "It's real!" on the Web site) and bears the chick-empowering tagline, "Get strong, sexy, sculpted arms and shoulders." But it's my guess that plenty of non-females with no interest in toning their triceps are ogling this clip (almost 130,000 YouTube views). That's because of the, um, entertainment value to be gleaned from watching this device at work. Sure, my mind's often in the gutter, but even the marketer seems to get a little squeamish about showing Shake Weight in action. At one point, the video switches to a CGI-looking exerciser in place of a real woman to demonstrate the "dynamic inertia" that is supposed to help give you Madonna's guns (or at least help you avoid getting Grandma's). There are some stats that back up its patent-pending design, and it promises you'll be "free to go sleeveless" with its six-minute-a-day workout. Worth the $19.95? Tough to say, but here's my advice. Do not—repeat, do not—use it at the gym.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Will FedEx's new "1-2-3 Succeed!" pitch be a Web success?

Posted on Tue Jul 21 2009

Pitchmen are huge right now, and so is their format of choice, the infomercial. So, for those people who find Fred Willard to be a laugh riot, you're in for a treat. For those of us who think he's barely serviceable, even in the confines of a Christopher Guest movie, get ready to skip FedEx's much-anticipated Web ads. Long-time FedEx agency BBDO Worldwide, New York has usurped this easily mimicked, easily parodied form of infotainment and placed Willard at its center. Not a bad premise on the face of it. It's smarter still to add Bob Odenkirk as director of the shorts, dubbed "1-2-3 Succeed!" that talk up various FedEx services.  Problem is, it's just not funny. Or, as one early commenter on the site said, "I want my three minutes back." Another says it feels "too addy," and even one who called it entertaining said it's not clever enough to be a viral hit. FedEx, according to the New York Times, has been struggling in the recession and reported that it lost $876 million in the quarter ended May 31. But the marketer has for years made an impression with its advertising, whether the campaigns are in the Super Bowl or not. The new effort? Probably not worth the money that was spent to produce it.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

GE pioneers the kitchen workout in 'Strong as Steel' infomercial

Posted on Wed Jun 10 2009

Is that Snuggie getting a little too snug? This won't help.
  "Hold on to your pots and pans and get ready for the newest and coolest fitness routine that is sweeping the nation!" So begins this "Strong as Steel" video, which has all the trappings—cheesy New Age Lite music, nitrous oxide-induced testimonials, pep talk from Biggest Loser host Alison Sweeney—of your typical workout-equipment informercial. But "Strong as Steel" is a parody that promotes ... GE kitchen appliances. Created by marketing agency Interference and social-media shop Youcast, it shows telegenic trainers feeling the burn of oven crunches and fridge pushups—probably not the best setting for a workout if you really want to lose weight.
  "Four weeks into the campaign, we've got a lot of hits and great comments, people asking, 'Is this real?' " says Interference CEO Sam Ewen. "It's a big departure for GE." "Everyone tries to reach appliance consumers in the same way, but this was a way to smile about appliances," adds Paul Klein, GM of branding and advertising for GE's consumer and industrial business.
  Everything links to a GE microsite, which has info about a three-month offer for a free upgrade to stainless steel on certain GE refrigerators, ranges, dishwashers or microwaves. And GE is actually selling a 22-minute "Strong as Steel" mock-workout DVD for $9.95 at the Yahoo! Store.

—Posted by Becky Ebenkamp

Consumer Reports cleans up ShamWow's messy product claims

Posted on Thu Apr 30 2009

An unexpectedly snarky Consumer Reports takes on the vaunted infomercial rag (and BrandFreak favorite) ShamWow in this video, spurred into action by pitchman Vince's claims that the product holds either 20, 12, or 10 times its own weight in water. The correct measurement, as it turns out, is 10. Not bad, but regular sponges hold the same amount, Consumer Reports found, and they cost a lot less than a pack of ShamWows, which also streak the hell out of your kitchen counter. Color us shocked that a product sold by the doofus who made The Underground Comedy Movie isn't entirely on the level. But we'll reconsider if Vince used one to clean himself up after fighting that hooker in South Beach.

—Posted by David Kiefaber

JumpSnap: all the benefits of a jump rope but no annoying rope!

Posted on Tue Apr 14 2009

It's been a while since we posted a mind-numbingly bad infomercial, à la the Snuggie, the ShamWow or the Slap Chop. So, here's one for the JumpSnap: the ropeless jump rope! It's an exercise system based on the claim that jumping rope is one of the best ways to burn calories. But why buy a regular jump rope from Wal-Mart for $8 when you can buy the JumpSnap package for $49.95?! There's more (oh, there's so much more) on the JumpSnap Web site. Thanks to GrassRoutes in Michigan for sending this one in.

—Posted by Tim Nudd

Stride gum has so many uses, it needs its very own infomercial

Posted on Thu Feb 26 2009

If you're trying to sell gum, an infomercial sounds like overkill. You don't really have to demonstrate its uses or anything, right? Wrong. This three-minute ad for Stride Gum from JWT shows various alternatives to just chewing the stuff, including using it as a "tiny one-way boomerang" or as fake eyebrows. (Such uses come in handy, you see, because Stride is said to never lose its flavor. No need to buy a second pack.) The ad could pass for a real infomercial with its voluble Married With Children-like crowd and special guests, including a "world-famous scientist" and a "paid actor." For now, it's only running online. But JWT creative director Jackie Hathiramani says the agency hopes to get it on TV, preferably late at night. Says Hathiramani: "In hard times, you have to have a hard sell."

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

The ShamWow: does it come with more 'sham' or more 'wow'?

Posted on Tue Jan 20 2009

Consumers are fond of multipurpose products. But can you trust a product that makes too many promises?
  We're talking about you, ShamWow. Here we have a "super shammy" that can be used as a sponge on spills (it supposedly holds 20 times its weight), that you can wash your car with, or your dog, that you can use as a towel—after all, Olympic divers use it! You can even use it to seal leaks! (OK, they don't say that, but I'm sure it could work.)
  I thought the whole point of paper towels and sponges was convenience and the fact that they're disposable. But no, the inventors of the ShamWow think you'll buy it because it's machine washable, costs just $19.99 for four large and four mini ShamWows, and comes with a 10-year warranty.
  And if you're still not sold, watch ShamWow's low-budget infomercial (above) starring AdFreak fave Vince Offer, who gives the best sales pitch of all: "It's made in Germany; you know the Germans always make good stuff."

—Posted by Elena Malykhina



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