Earlier today, the ShamWow! won our “As Seen On TV” bracketby beating the George Foreman Grill in the championship round.
We couldn’t get Vince on our air in time, but he did agree to do his first ever interview with us here on CNBC.com.
Darren: So how did you get into infomercials?
Vince:Well, I couldn’t sell this movie I made called Underground Comedy. I put all my own money into it and I sued Anna Nicole Smith because we lost $100,000 because she backed out the day before. So I was watching television and I saw those “Girls Gone Wild” spots and thought maybe that would be a good way to sell the movie. That’s really how it started. I put the trailer on an infomercial on Comedy Central and we sold 50,000 DVD’s that way and eventually sold 50,000 more of them in stores.
Darren: How did you then make your way to the ShamWow!?
Vince:Well, I thought, ‘Why am I messing around with this young, male demographic when I can probably do something a little more mainstream.’ I had sold products in flea markets before and I thought a cleaning product would be a good idea. So, in 2006, I came up with the ShamWow! I had seen this type of product at fairs, but it wasn’t well marketed. And from there, I went to this factory in Germany that made them for me.
Darren: How did you come up with the name, ShamWow!? Some people think it would be risky to put “Sham” in the title of an infomercial product?
Vince:Well, I thought it was like a chamois, like the real leather one. My first name was “Sham It Up!,” but I didn’t really like that one. “Shamit” was taken. And then I realized that whenever I demonstrated the product people would say “Wow every time. So I thought of the ShamWow! And then added the line, “You say ‘wow’ every time.’
Darren: While we’re on the subject of lines, where did you get, “You following me, camera guy?”
Vince:I know it comes out funny, but we were filming during three different weekends in the summer of 2007 in Glendale Studios in California and I had just met the cameraman. So I was really making sure he was following me.
Darren: Most people think the funniest line in the commercial is the line where you say, “Made is Germany. You know the Germans always make good stuff.” Where did you get that from?
Vince:It is made in Germany and I thought it was funny that no one ever calls attention to products made in that country. Mercedes certainly doesn’t. I’m not saying that I’ve changed things, but all of a sudden I’m hearing companies saying “German engineering.” I never heard that before. To be truthful, not much “engineering” goes into the ShamWow!
Darren: You came off as more aggressive than nice. I think people like that.
Vince:I’ve been to those flea markets and nice doesn’t get people to stop. People stop when you are aggressive and when you bring them in.
Darren: Your spot is on air all the time. Do people notice you on the streets now?
Vince:Maybe a little bit more, but my hair doesn’t normally look like that. I spiked it up because I was thinking about people falling asleep at 2 a.m. and I needed to wake them up. Plus, I gained 10 pounds.
Darren: We haven’t talked about winning this contest? What are your thoughts?
Vince: It’s really flattering. I don’t think anyone has done this before. The joke is, you think about all the money that probably went into making the first George Foreman commercials. That ShamWow! commercial was really low budget. That cost us like $20,000 to make.
Darren: What can you tell me about how many you have sold?
Vince:Definitely millions since it came out late last year.
Darren: Lot of people say you used a different carpet for the cola experiment. Did you?
Vince: We poured too much cola on it the first time and it looked messy, but that’s the same carpet. And when I say “real time” that is really picking up the cola from the carpet.
Darren: Your first commercial said it holds 20 times its weight in liquid, now it says 12 times. What happened?
Vince:We did more tests on it and decided to be conservative. But I should say that people, overall, are very happy with our product. Returns are very low.
Darren: What do you think of legendary infomercial guy, Billy Mays?
Vince: That’s his career and he gets commissions and he’s good at what he does with some of the products.
Darren: People say you might be better. That you’re the next Billy Mays.
Vince:I don’t want to be. I’m in the film business, this is not my career.
Darren: Even with the success of the ShamWow! and the Slap Chop?
Vince:I’m the owner of these products, I’m not a paid actor in that sense. I’ve been getting a lot of offers to pitch other people’s products, but I’ve declined.
Darren: Final question. Is your name really Vince Offer?
Vince:Offer is actually my first name. My Dad is Israeli, so that isn’t totally made up.
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