10 Of The Most Iconic Infomercials

Or just plain weird advertisements, depending on your perspective.

Infomercials are essentially long commercials that give the customer an in-depth look at the product they're pitching. Before the days of streaming services, cheesy infomercials were a huge staple of the early 2000s. But there were some that stood out more than others. 

Family on couch laughing
August de Richelieu @ Unsplash

Overly happy people, excessive clumsiness, and profoundly confused individuals are typical characteristics of the traditional infomercial. They also frequently feature a man with a booming voice who commands your attention. All of these aspects combined can make one strange, yet memorable commercial. Today, infomercials aren't so common; their legacy kept alive by YouTube.

Without further discussion, let's take a nice, possibly cringe-inducing, walk down memory lane.

1. Snuggie

Everyone remembers the classic Snuggie infomercial that came out in 2008, smiling children and parents dressed like cult members. The Snuggie quickly gained attention due to its absurdity. Whether people bought the Snuggie because of its sheer goofiness, or because they genuinely wanted the product, the Snuggie made bank. More than 35 million Snuggies were sold, resulting to over $500 million in revenue.

2. HeadOn

"HeadOn, apply directly to head and forehead!" The infomercial was enough to give you a headache. Perhaps that was their strategy all along. Miralus Healthcare, former owner of HeadOn, tested several infomercials with focus groups. The headache-inducing ads we have all come to know and love did the best. The focus groups recalled more information from the repetition ads than any other. Dan Charron, V.P. of marketing and sales, was surprised at the ads going infamously viral, and stated that no one in the focus group told him that the ads were annoying.

3. Shamwow

The ShamWow may have faded quietly into infomercial history if not for its ads with Vince Offer. For years, Billy Mays was possibly the most well-known pitchman of the early 2000s, until the ShamWow ad came out in 2006. Offer was a fast-talker, with a contagious energy that rivaled Mays's. Something about the way he would talk also made me excited about these towel-like rags. 

4. Slap Chop

In December 2008, we are blessed with another infomercial starring Offer. My favorite quotes of his from this one are: "You're gonna love my nuts" and "Stop having a boring tuna, stop having a boring life." I believe this one went more viral than the ShamWow infomercial. You can find several Auto-Tune remixes that are actually quite catchy. On February 7th 2009, Vince was arrested for getting into a physical altercation with a sex worker in his hotel room. After the arrest, he took a hiatus from the infomercial life before returning in 2012 to promote the Schticky reusable lint roller.

5. Shake Weight

Personally, I think the Shake Weight infomercial takes the cake in terms of ridiculousness. For obvious reasons, the Shake Weight sparked a lot of controversy, and a lot of parodies. A study conducted by the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine found that the Shake Weight is about as effective as regular dumbbells. Nevertheless, the Shake Weight still made $40 million in sales.

6. Fushigi Ball

The "magic" of the Fushigi Ball really comes from the reflection of the metal ball through its clear acrylic coating, giving it the illusion of floating. The mesmerizing movements of the ball flowing from arm to arm is something called contact juggling. While it's made to look easy in the commercial, contact juggling takes a lot of practice and skill. Assuming the ball came with this flowing ability, many customers were heartbroken when they tried to copy the moves in the commercial, only for the ball to slip and shatter on the floor.

7. Wearable Towel

If you're like me, then answering the doorbell or the phone while you're in the shower is no urgency to you. If not, then you might have taken interest in the Wearable Towel. For $20, you could buy yourself this Snuggie-like towel that you can wear around the house. 

8. PooTrap

It's a good thing dogs aren't capable of feeling embarrassment, or these dogs might've felt a serious blow to their dignity. The PooTrap comes with a harness and plastic bags that secure to the back of the harness, directly over the dog's rear-end. Depending on what size you buy, you can expect to pay $20-$60 dollars for a PooTrap. 

9. Hawaii Chair

The Hawaii Chair, also known as the Hula Chair, made its debut in 2007. The chair contained a motor that made the cushion swivel. Whether it actually worked it is hard to say, but I imagine you could break a sweat if you used the chair for an hour or more. Talk of the chair's health benefits was scarce and more focus was given to its goofy, swiveling mechanism.

10. Doc Bottoms Aspray

If there was an award for "Grossest Infomercial", Aspray would win hands-down. It was aired once by MSNBC on a graveyard slot and never aired again. In an interview with the Washington Post, Adam Jay Geisinger states that he wanted to stop coming home from his contracting job and the gym smelling funky; when he couldn't find an antibacterial, all-over deodorant, Aspray was born.

You might've thought to yourself watching these, "What were they thinking?" But think about how many commercials and infomercials you've seen that were unremarkable. So were these infomercials terrible, or were they genius because of the way they grabbed our attention? You be the judge.

Just a night owl and podcast nerd who loves to write.

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