As Seen on TV

This guy could sell anything.
Ever since Ron Popeil introduced the viewing audience to the Vegematic and the Pocket Fisherman, products designated as "As Seen on TV" have been ridiculed. Perhaps it was his slightly snake-oil salesman presentation or the fact that the products' claims were often too good to be true, but conventional wisdom was that these products were cheap, flimsy, and didn't deliver the magic that was promised.

I've always been enthralled by advertising. My earliest memory of dissecting an ad was when I was about nine years old. I noticed that a particular brand of cereal was being advertised significantly more often than others, and more than it had been in the past. I confidently informed my mother that the company must be making lots of money because they were advertising more. She replied that it could be the exact opposite - that the cereal may not be selling well so, therefore, the company was trying to make more people aware of the product. And so began my passion for both TV and marketing.

RonCo was the company that innovated what we now call infomercials - long-form advertising of one product - and Ron Popeil, founder of RonCo, was the undisputed prince of the medium. He was tall, handsome in a 1950's sort of way, and purely in love with what he was doing. I miss his big, smiling mug on my TV. I think the last time I saw him do an infomercial it was for a rotisserie grill, and I remembering thinking that it was amazing that he was still shucking his products under the RonCo name some 40 years later. I hope he made millions and millions of dollars.

Waxing nostalgic about infomercials and "As Seen on TV" products is my way of admitting to being a regular buyer of these wonders. As a kid, my mom kept telling me that I didn't want the cool thing I saw on TV because [insert list of excuses that were probably a cover for "we can't afford it."] Perhaps being denied these items is what compels me to buy them now. And, it's not just TV anymore... I've added the much-maligned "Sky Mall" catalog to my cool-product wellspring.

ShamWow really works. As does the screen curtain that replaced the screen door (so the dogs can freely go in and out.) I own an original Vegematic in the box, although I don't use it anymore because I would hate to break it. I never did buy the Ginzu Knives (that can cut through a CAN and then slice a tomato like it was butter) or the Pocket Fisherman. But my most recent purchase may be my best ever.

I LOVE THIS PRODUCT!
I woke up at 3:30 a.m. one day with a wicked bout of insomnia. I turned on the TV and got sucked into the infomercial for a vacuum cleaner. As it happens, I needed a vacuum and it didn't take much to convince me that this one might fit the bill. The thing that put me over the edge though was this final promise - "order now and we'll send you - ABSOLUTELY FREE - the Shark Steam Mop!"

As it happens, I had been looking at the Shark Steam Mop for a while. The previous weekend I'd even put one in my cart while shopping at Bed, Bath, and Beyond but eventually put it back because, really, I didn't need to spend $90 on myself the week before Christmas. Now I could get one ABSOLUTELY FREE when I purchased another item I needed!! Really, who could resist this offer? And I could pay in INSTALLMENTS! Oh.My.God.

Since it was the middle of the night, I decided to order online instead of calling in. I won't bore you with the wonders of the online ordering process (they have it down to a science with no fewer than SIX upsells to various other products) but will tell you that, in less than 15 minutes, I was done and anticipating my new products arrival.

I LOVE THIS PRODUCT TOO!
The box came on Monday. Surprisingly small considering that it contained not one but two miracle products.  After a short and easy assembly process, I was up and running. I steam-mopped my kitchen floor first and then ran the incredibly quiet* vacuum cleaner in the living room and dining room. Ladies and gents, let me be the first to tell you... The Shark Navigator Vacuum and the Shark Steam Mop are everything they promise and more. And, once again, "As Seen on TV" hasn't let me down.

I kinda want to call my mom and tell her she was wrong.

- Alex

*I'd like to note that the Shark company doesn't even use the quietness of the vacuum as a selling point. I can't imagine why. It is, without a doubt, the quietest vacuum I've ever owned. Of course, it's possible that I've always owned fairly crappy vacuums too...

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