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Infomercial Mania Takes "The Big Idea"

Saturday, 12 May 2007 | 12:50 AM ET

(originally posted Thu 10 May 2007 6:11 p.m.)

If the name Kevin Harrington doesn't sound familiar, maybe one of the hundreds of products his company's made billions selling will: The Foodsaver, The Jetstream Oven, Wolfman Jack's Solid Gold Rock'n Roll Hits, Ginsu Knives, or how about the Flowbee.

With well over $3 billion in sales, the numbers are mind-blowing, but then again, so is the wacky world of direct response advertising, an industry that's success not even Willy Loman could have predicted. At their best, these infomercials entangle themselves with pop culture, living out lives well beyond their initial television runs; and at their worst, they're guilty of the same virility, finding a way into our minds through goofy demos or impossible-to-forget jingles.

But that's exactly what's so great about modern American capitalism. If you can market it, can you sell just about anything.

Ch-ch-chia,
Donny Deutsch

Questions? Comments? donny@cnbc.com