Thursday, January 29, 2009

It's A Damn Blanket With Arms

You've seen the commercial, heck you might even know someone that has bought a Snuggie for their home, because it's the hottest thing in pop culture right now. And honestly, I can't figure it out. I suppose if you are going for the fleece covered monk look, Snuggie has you covered, but for me, I'm already proficient at operating a blanket when needed and if I'm that cold, I usually put on a sweatshirt and long pants. I'm not sure I would want one of these things, much less be seen in public wearing one of these, but apparently, I'm wrong in dissing on the Snuggie because they are selling like crazy, and stores can't keep them in stock.

I can't completely explain how some products become almost cultish in their appeal, like the Snuggie and the Shamwow, and others are doomed to end up at garage sales for a nickel, but the one thing that they all have is a catchy advertisement, and it plays everywhere. You can't watch any basic cable shows without seeing an ad for either the Snuggie or Shamwow, the special shammy towel that is super absorbent. At least with the Shamwow, I can say I've seen it work because girl's mom bought some to help clean up the cat pee that appears every once in a while in the house. And I can give the best testimonial ever to the Shamwow that it cleans up cat pee better than any other towel I've used. I'm not completely sure that would work for a commercial, but when you see something like this work, it makes you feel better about buying something. Plus, there's something about the Shamwow pitch guy, who talks with his fast food drive through headset, talking about the most absorbent towel on the market. He talks fast, he does crazy demonstrations that show amazing results, they have testimonials from people who have bought them, and then cue the 800 number and start the feeding frenzy.

Admit it, we've all bought crap from the store or television, sucked in by the outlandish claims that somehow promise magic things, like being able to set your car polish on fire, scramble an egg inside the shell, or spray on hair that looks and feels real, but only to find that if you're dumb enough to set your car on fire to prove its shine, well, you probably shouldn't be driving. But part of marketing is making something seem like you can't live without it, and these commercials do that very well with catchy demonstrations and testimonials.

But while some might say this is capitalism at its best, I would say that's hardly the case. A true capitalist should be paid for their talents, which is the essence of capitalism that people's worth is calculated by talent and they are compensated for that. Where the current run of Americanistic commerce comes into play is adding unbridled greed to the desire to be paid for talent, and then it turns into wanting to make more so you can have everything, then rinse and repeat. Some of these infomercials prey on people's insecurities for the simple reason of lining someone's pocket out of greed, and you hear the horror stories of getting ripped off all the time. While my capitalistic roots love people doing what they love and being compensated for their talents, I also have the ethical side of not wanting to screw with people, which is why I'd be a terrible telemarketer. Well, actually, I was one for about two weeks, and while I had the great phone voice, I sucked at scamming people.

But while the world of marketing has dozens of failed inventions that toil in obscurity, there are those that not only rise to the fame of actually having people buy them, but they gain a loyal coltish following. Heck, even CNBC created a competition between beloved products from the infomercial world, and the winner was a towel that sucks...really well. I think I still have my George Foreman grill around here somewhere, and it actually works really well. Plus, and I have trouble admitting this, but I like seeing what crap Billy Mays is pitching this week, because the guy is hysterical and his beard is a true black hole of commerce. Granted, I can also avoid most of the appeal for these by saying I don't really need them and besides, they'll be on sale at the store in about 3 months anyway under some other brand name. But I can appreciate the cult factor of these products by truly calling them what they are: legendary.

Postscript - I read my friend Heather's blog, Mile, quite a bit because the stories are really funny, and she presents them in such an unusually entertaining way. Plus, she hangs out at Timbers matches with daveknows, who really knows about Portland, so she's in good company. She posted something about lite rock a few days ago, complaining about a certain band named after a city that has a team of Red Soxs and Celtics running about because there is a certain song that she's not fond of. While I can relate to her turmoil, I can do her one better, by being tormented this morning by the worst song in the history of rock, as voted on by Blender and Vibe magazine, and I think VH1 referred to it terribly as well. It was a song by a band that should have known better. Cause don't you remember, don't you remember, we built this city on rock and roll!! Just say no to craptacular 80s music.

1 comment:

devlyn said...

It only takes the mere mention of a song name to get said song stuck in my head for any number of hours, as long as those hours > 3. So, thanks. I'm going to have to put a hex on both you and Heather for doing that. Horrible.