"Who’s Ron Popeil?" asked my daughter.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It was as if someone stuck a Ginsu knife in my heart.
Yes, my youngest daughter had just informed me that she had never heard of the greatest marketer in the history of late-night cable television.
I was going to insult her intelligence by asking her where she grew up. But, I realized she’d answer "Hico, Texas" where I grew up and this conversation would head into a direction that I wasn’t ready to deal with.
We were watching our favorite show, the Soup, when a commercial for the Snuggie came on. The Snuggie is the blanket with a couple of holes in it making it perfect, we’re told, for reading a book or taking to a football game. (When I was a young man and took a young lady to a football game, I tried to keep my hands under the blanket.) It was during this infomercial, that the name of Ron Popeil popped into the conversation.
Come here, my little darling, and let Daddy wax poetic of one Ron Popeil, the marketing genius who brought us classic products like the Pocket Fisherman, Showtime Rotisserie, as well as the O-Matic family, the Chop-O-Matic, Veg-O-Matic and Dial-O-Matic. If that wasn’t enough, there was also the Smokeless Ashtray, the Inside the Egg Scrambler, Mr. Microphone and my all time favorite, Hair-In-A-Can. (My college buddy Donnie McDermott, used a entire can one night. After a couple of dances, this hair divot slipped into the punch bowl. Ron must not have thought about his product might interact with flop sweat.)
Ron, I explained, also coined phrases like "But wait, there’s more", "How much would you expect to pay?", "Hey good looking, I’ll be back to pick you up in five minutes", "It slices, it dices" and "It makes beef jerky for less than $3 a pound".
Back in 1989, Bob Shallcross were working at Leo Burnett on the "This is not your father’s Oldsmobile" campaign. Tap into your memory bank and you might recall the campaign played off the use of famous fathers and their no-so-famous offspring. We tired to use Ron and his son in a spot, "My father knows something about innovation…" And, of course, we worked in the lines, "But, wait, there’s more." I couldn’t understand why the client hated it. I guess they didn’t like us comparing their $25,000 Cutlass Supreme to a fishing pole that fits in the glove box with a flashlight and plastic forks.
I was going to tell her about the "Solid Flavor Injector", but couldn’t, some guy on TV was hawking a pretty doggone interesting product, "The Ding King."
"That’s Billy Mays," said Avery.
"Who is Billy Mays?"