Jeff Goldblum's new weird infomercial tries to sell you $14.97 light bulbs

Ben Popken
Jeff Goldblum in a G.E. spot "Enhance Your Lighting".
Source: G.E. | YouTube

Finally we've figured out the secret to Jeff Goldblum's enduring charm and success as an actor: really great lighting.

He flips the switch on this enigma in a new, weird GE Link smartbulb ad directed by Tim & Eric, whose "Awesome Show" on Cartoon Network and "Mom Song" ads for Old Spice have helped set the bar for "unsettling" as a media and marketing tactic.

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Goldblum stars as an exaggerated celebrity showing us around his mansion who uses his smartphone-connected LED light bulbs operating on the "Wink" hub to lead a life of quietly sparkling luxury. He has a woman on each arm, a piano in his Jacuzzi, and a small man who hands him Handi-wipes from his fanny-pack on command.

The smartbulbs he's talking about are screwed into your lighting fixtures like a normal light bulb. But inside the base sits a tiny computer brain. It talks to a central hub in your house that works like a specialized Wi-Fi router. Your smartphone, whether you're in the room, upstairs, or around the world, also talks to the hub and lets you turn the lights on and off, dim them and control timers.

The new two-minute infomercial was released online today and will air on select cable channels. Its goal is to make you laugh uncomfortably while convincing you to buy a $15 light bulb.

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That's certainly a premium price point for an iPhone version of The Clapper.

Assuming you get free shipping, a 4-pack of 60W incandescent GE bulbs runs you $7.49, or $1.87 per bulb on Amazon. However, they're only rated for 1,000 hours, or about 11 months assuming 3 hours per day of use. They also use more electricity than LED bulbs, with their average annual energy expenditure estimated at $7.22.

The Link bulb also costs more than other standard LED bulbs. A 6-pack of the highly rated CREE bulbs costs $55.99 on Amazon, or $9.31 a bulb. Like most LEDs surveyed, they last 25,000 hours, or 22.8 years. LED bulbs are much cheaper to run than incandescents. The CREE costs only $1.14 per year in annual energy costs. Similarly, a Philips dimmable LED bulb costs $9 per bulb and $1.26 per year.

But compared to other smartbulbs, the Link isn't a bad deal at all. The bulbs in Philips Hue system cost $15.99 each and also last 22.8 years. TCP brand bulbs cost $19.97 each. Meanwhile, the GE Link bulbs cost $14.97 with annual energy expenses of $.66 per year. But you do also have to buy the $44.99 base hub to control it. And then there's also the hidden cost of the smartphone you're already expected to have bought and be paying a monthly bill for.

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Currently Home Depot is offering a deal that lets you get two bulbs and the base for $44.94 total. In comparison, the Philips Hue starter pack is $188.99 for the hub and three bulbs. Essentially GE is selling you the hub and giving you two light bulbs for free.

That's a pretty good deal but it's also like that old salesman joke about selling a boat to a man who comes in to buy a fishing hook. You just want lights on in your house but with the Wink hub in your house it will be easier for GE to sell you future "smart" appliances that will work on it. Brilliant.

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