Thursday, January 07, 2010

Give me my Snuggie and SlapChop!

I just read an article in the NYTimes, "Infomercial Products Take One on the Chin," about the February issue of Consumer Reports which will reveal that many infomercial products are found lacking in product quality, and fall short of what they promise they will do on TV.

The article is a good read, and it admits that infomercials work. Something many of us have long known. It also presents an interesting thought: Why would Consumer Reports have ever assumed their "savvy shoppers who scrutinize the magazine's ratings with intensity to guide their purchases - would even give a second thought to buying, say, a SlapChop?"

I have to laugh because, while I don't own a SlapChop nor a Snuggie, I know they were high on the gift lists this year in my family. My younger brother is the proud owner of two SlapChops. And my niece was delighted to show me the new Snuggie their dog Pugsly got from Santa. Clearly infomercials affect a much wider audience than many folks would assume.

I also have to admit the entertainment value of these infomercials is incredibly high. I watch for the dog in the Snuggie every time I see the spot, and for the old man in the bleachers who is shivering to death without one. It's campy and it's fun. And engaging the consumer in the message is what all good advertising is supposed to do.

Even the SlapChop commercials are fun. I spend many hours watching cooking shows and home renovations shows, and - quite frankly - many infomercials are just as engaging to watch. So I am not surprised that people watch them, enjoy them, and order the products.

As for the quality of the products, I can't comment. I've purchased many things from informercials that I've liked and many that fell short - but the same is true of things I buy on eBay, Amazon.com and even in bricks and mortar retail stores.

But it should give us at least a little pause when we consider that these spots also work as strong branding spots; a large number of Snuggies and SlapChops are being sold off the shelves of Kmart, Walmart and Walgreens these days. And it's not simply an impulse buy.