While Infomercials Seem to Be Silly Marketing Campaigns, the Numbers Reveal a Different Story
Confession time Aluxer, who hasn’t been in a hotel room or nursing a hangover and felt their fingers itch to dial a 1-800 number to take advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity from those infomercials? Be honest!
Somehow, as much as we love to hate them, infomercials have an appeal. They’re like an old T-shirt or the smell of moms baking, it’s the comforting sound of housewives oohing and aahing over knives that can cut through a shoe, or a can opener that opens 20 000 cans before perfectly cracking an egg.
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Most people can rattle off at least a jingle, or the top 5 sales points of any Tevo product on TV today, and many of us have purchased more than we care to admit. Let’s take a look at 10 of the most successful infomercials of all time not because of their sales or the massive money they made, but also because of their cultural icon status or cult following they garnered. Some for the famous faces behind them, and others because they were the products the world just had to have …by dialling 1-800 right now.
Another element people love the infomercials for are the entertainment in them. One of them? You can switch to our fun YouTube upload for this topic:
Moving on, let’s get straight to the first infomercial success-story in our list.
Forget singing for your supper, celebrities like Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears, P. Diddy, Justin Beiber, and Katy Perry all sung the praises of Proactiv for a cool $2 to $3 million per commercial spot! And the endorsement paid off, because the Proactiv acne system rakes in an estimated $1 billion in annual earnings.
Proactiv was launched in 1995 by its creators Dr. Kathy Fields and Dr. Katie Rodan as spokespeople, and Judith Light as their celebrity endorsement. Judith who? Well back in the 90’s Judith Light was a well-known celebrity from the popular prime time comedy called Who’s The Boss?
It kept up appearances by introducing popular and relevant “faces” as the years ticked over and they boast 20 million customers worldwide to show for their winning formula. They use a model they call “Social commerce” that uses independent entrepreneurs on social media selling the products, but infomercials are still a big part of their sales push.
What do you get when you add former supermodel Christie Brinkley to the winning success of Chuck Norris? Total domination in the infomercial game!
Together this unlikely duo has successfully suckered over $1 billion in sales from unsuspecting TV audiences selling this wonder home gym appliance. It’s been on the market for over 20 years and is a feature in more than 4 million homes. All of this works-out to a roundhouse figure of $1.2billion in sales.
You don’t need the Total Gym to crush it with Chuck Norris type skill though, learn from the master with his AudioBook, Against All Odds now available on audible.
George Foreman Grill
If a discussion about infomercials goes down and George Foreman isn’t mentioned, is it even a real discussion? Nope.
So, without further ado, the next heavyweight in the Infomercial space is two-time World Heavyweight Champion George Foreman. Once Foreman agreed to put his name and weight behind the sales of the lean, mean, fat reducing machine, the most famous grill in the world was born.
And it was a hundred-million-dollar baby! Since it first appeared in 1994, the George Foreman Grill has moved 100 million units and counting. In 1999 alone George Foreman earned $137.5million in the endorsement deal for the use of his name.
It is estimated that the Lean Mean Fat reducing machine earned a knockout annual revenue of $202 million.
While we’re on the topic of fast selling cookers the Showtime Pro Electric Rotisserie Oven is another hot seller with $1.2 billion in lifetime sales as of April 2018.
It seems fitness and health food products are the golden egg when it comes to infomercial territory, because the P90X is another fitness fad that brought home the bacon.
When Stand-up comedian Tony Horton brought out a hardcore fitness workout DVD, people were pretty sceptical. But no one’s laughing now. Since the launch in 2005, the DVD’s worked out to annual revenue of $400 million. Horton’s heavy hitting DVD’s got the nod from NFL quarterback Kirt Warner, and even Politician Paul Ryan who both endorsed the workout.
The original P90X workout has enjoyed spin-offs including work out for Senior bodybuilders, kids and even a Christian-themed Body Gospel. With that kind of revenue, Tony Horton is laughing all the way to the bank.
Sadly, the Snuggie can’t take the credit for inventing the blanket with sleeves, that honour goes to the inventor of the Slanket. But we can credit Snuggie for popularising and solving the very real problem of keeping your blanket snuggly tucked around you.
Their infomercials drove home just how big the need was for a blanket to have arms, and how insufficient a square blanket was to serve us all these years. Their comical commercials won them a cult following that led to millions of sales just to join a Snuggie pub crawl or marathon. In 2010 43,000 strong crowd of snuggie wearing LA Angels fans broke a Guinness World Record for most Snuggies wearers in one place. Unsurprisingly the record remains unchallenged!
In the first 5 years since they launched, they reportedly sold 30 million blankets. Although sources vary, it seems that an average sales consensus lies around $450 million worth of blankets that few people are willing to admit they really love.
The Hair Club for Men
Nope this one’s not the spray on hair, but instead the company behind making hair transplants possible by simply “calling the number on screen now.” Since 1982, the owner won over comb-over clients with the tagline: “I’m not just the president of Hair Club for Men, I’m also a client!”
The line paid off to the tune of a sale of the company in 2005 at a valuation of $210 million. They reportedly treat 50,000 clients a year… not just balding men, but women and children too.
You don’t have to have a thick mane of hair to improve your style. Check out our blog: 9 Tricks To Improve Your Look Instantly.
Slendertone and Shake Weight
We have to include these two because of their notoriety in sketch comedy shows and endless parodies, but also because they were both a runaway success. The Slendertone sold 10 million units of their toning belt that allowed you to build washboard abs simply by sitting on your butt. The electronic pads pulsed to activate your abdominal muscles and were the perfect solution to a TV watching audience who also wanted to work out with none of the hassle of lifting a finger.
Then infomercials brought us the Shake Weight, a vibrating free weight that exploded across our screens with appearances on shows like Saturday Night Live. The sexual innuendo jokes were irresistible, but so was the Shake Weight apparently. It took home $40 million in sales by 2010.
Another famously parodied workout device was the ThighMaster, made famous by 90’s sitcom star, Suzanne Somers. But the jokes certainly not on Somers who brought in $200 million in ThighMaster sales.
If you ask someone around in the 80s about the Chia Pet, they won’t be able to help themselves from stuttering out the jingle: “Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia”. But in reality, the product is what today is known as a “grass head”.
But when the novel idea of a cute terracotta animal sprouting chia grass hair hit infomercial TV slots, the USA was enraptured. From bulls to turtles to frogs, there was a range of these windowsill sitting craze. They had such a bit impact on American culture that they were included in the New York Times time capsule to be opened in the year 3,000.
The planters sold at $16 a pot, and you can do the math on the earnings, because 15 million terracotta planters have been sold which means Ch-ch-ch-ching!
When celebrity Marie Osmond dropped 50-pounds using the NutriSystem, that was all the proof that millions of people needed to pick up the phone and order. The weight management system sends you a pack of meals and snacks that are low calorie and portion controlled to help you lose weight and keep it off.
In 2017 the weighed in with $697 million in revenue. The Wall Street Journal estimated the company market value at $1.11 billion.
It’s hard to imagine that a handheld cheese grater for dry heels could make it onto a top sellers list of al time, but that’s the Ped Egg Power. With $450 million worth of devices sold at the last report we could find; the Ped Egg has been scouring calluses and scrubbing dead skin since its launch in 2007.
You might not be able to imagine watching a 60-minute infomercial of people grating away at dead skin on their feet. But the Power of the PedEgg captured the imagination of 40 million people who picked up the phone and called for a home delivery after watching the scraping and skin flakes on TV.
Which of these products have you considered buying?
What is your favourite catchphrase from an infomercial?