Innovative TV Pitchman Sold Billions of Dollars of Quirky Convenience Products Over Six Decades
7/29/21 – – I will be observing a moment of silence today in memory of legendary TV pitchman Ron Popeil.
The creator of such must-have products as the Veg-O-Matic (it slices and dices), Hair in a Can (essentially spray paint to cover a bald spot), Pocket Fisherman (lets you go fishing on impulse anytime, anywhere), Mr. Microphone (karaoke on the cheap) and the Inside-the-Eggshell Egg Scrambler (I’m not making this up) died yesterday at age 86.
When it comes to innovation, he may not be in a league with Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison, but Popeil gave us the infomercial, paved the way for QVC and the Home Shopping Network, and coined such iconic marketing phrases as “But wait . . . there’s more!” and “The babes are back!”
The biography on Popeil’s official website claims that, “Ron has been on more television channels for more hours in more markets than virtually all other celebrities in American television history.” His distinctive rapid-fire pitch style has been hilariously parodied by Dan Aykroyd (Bass-O-Matic on Saturday Night Live) and Johnny Carson (Dickie-the-Stick). His quirky Ronco company products, having generated billions of dollars in sales over the last six decades, can still be purchased on Amazon.com.
It was Popeil’s Ronco Records that produced those unforgettable long-play TV commercials for what were known as “compilation albums,” featuring fast on-screen scrolling of song titles and artists’ names over short sound bites from the assembled recordings. The hypnotic spots, urging viewers to “act now,” usually played late at night when advertising rates were low and potential buyers most vulnerable.
I don’t know about you, but Ron Popeil’s passing makes me long for a simpler time, before sanctimonious online influencers, fancy Cuisinart food processors and the Hair Club for Men. The likeable, entertaining, apolitical pitchman will be missed.
So, in loving memory of Mr. Popeil, consider contributing $99.00 to a charity of your choice. I’m sure if you act now, they’ll be happy to accept three easy monthly payments of just $33.00!