As everyone here certainly knows, I love infomercials. It’s a sickness, I know, but I’m turning 42 this week, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m probably not changing much from here on in. And I love infomercials. I have spent way too many hours in my life sitting in a recliner and watching someone sell:
(1) The miraculous pasta pot, that has little holes on top so that you can drain the boiling hot water without ever taking the pasta out of the pot! Sure, I bought one. It’s great. Only trouble is that the top really doesn’t stay on all that well, and also your chances of scalding yourself while trying to to pour out the water is roughly 1 in 2. Current use: Planter.
(2) The revolutionary wok-like pan device that allows you to cook fast in the steam. Make pasta dishes in a snap! Steam the greenest vegetables ever! Sure I bought one. It’s great. Only trouble is, it really doesn’t work any differently from the actual Wok we have other than it’s more cheaply made. Current use: Space eater in pantry.
(3) The Magic Bullet. Little tiny blender allows you to make awesome smoothies, delicious cheese cake and the famous six second scrambled eggs! Sadly, my family has never let me buy one.
(4) The Infinity Razor. This was, by far, my favorite infomercial-type item — I blogged about this already. It’s the razor that comes with a lifetime guarantee, meaning you will NEVER need to replace it. Ever. And it will always stay sharp. Forever. And, by far my favorite part of it, was that if you bought one they would give you one free. Even I wasn’t stupid enough to buy one/two.
(5) The magical-white stuff that makes scratches on your car disappear forever. Say you have a scratch on your car. Well, you put this white goop on top of it, buff it with this incredibly flimsy shammy-type device that rotates the soft pad at speeds up to 1 revolution per minute — seriously, this thing moves around about as fast as those plastic little kiddie toy windmills * — and, voila, the scratch is completely gone, your car is just like new. Current use: Lost in garage.
*I never understood why these toy windmills were supposed to be fun. Hey, look, I can make this thing go around! I mean, how many minutes of entertainment can even the smallest kid get out of that? It’s like those party favors that you blow, and the little paper unwinds and you hear that kazoo sound … really, you do that twice and haven’t you more or less drained all the possibilities?
But, after being set straight by Holly and Mechelle I now have a new favorite infomercial-type commercial. I appreciate that I’m a bit late to the party … but let me be the millionth person to say it: That Snuggie Blanket has to be the most amazing commercial I’ve ever seen on television. I know you have seen this thing over and over already, but just in case, here is the idea: The Snuggie is a blanket with sleeves. I’m not saying that as some vague description, that’s their slogan. Snuggie: The Blanket With Sleeves.
Now, at first glance, you may think: Hmm, a blanket with sleeves. Sounds like, I don’t know, a SWEATSHIRT. Or a SWEATER. Or a FLEECE PULLOVER. But the brilliance of the Snuggie is not in the innovation. It is in the way they sell it. The commercial (which you can see at the end of the post, though I suspect you won’t) is pure brilliance from beginning to end.
Scene 1: Woman sitting on couch in thin white sweater of some kind. She appears to be cold based on the way that she is shivering while crossing her arms. The narrator says, quite reasonably: “You want to keep warm when you’re feeling chilled but you don’t want to raise your heating bill.” The raising of the heating bill is symbolized by a cartoon arrow with dollar signs on it going up in the air and the sound of a cash register bell going off. Tension has already been set in motion. This early scene is shot in stark black and white, like it’s “Double Indemnity.”
Scene 2: Woman laying down on couch, only now she’s trying to cover herself in a thread-bare blanket … and she’s having one heck of a difficult time with it. The blanket simply will not cooperate. The narrator says: “Blankets are OK, but they can slip and slide.” I love the early concession — Blankets are OK. This is not an attempt to put blanket people out of business, they want that clear up front. There is a cordless telephone next to the woman … this will play a key role in our next scene.
Scene 3: Woman TRIES to reach for the phone. But the blanket will not allow her to get it immediately. It takes at least .8 seconds for her to get the phone. The narrator says: “And when you need to reach for something, your hands are trapped inside.” This has to be the single greatest moment in television history; this moment when an actress is attempting to demonstrate how difficult it is to reach for a telephone when your hands are trapped inside a blanket. She makes O.J. trying on the glove look like Coppola in Godfather III. She tries to reach for the phone, but she can’t quite get it right away, and then she has the most priceless look in the world, this look that says: “Oh, wow, haven’t we all been here, trying to get that doggone phone when we’re wrapped in a blanket, oh, if they can put a man on the moon and find a cure for polio, why oh why can’t they find a way to free my hands from a blanket.”
Scene 4: Everything bursts in full color! And the narrator says: “Now, there’s the Snuggie. The blanket that has sleeves!” The woman demonstrates by putting on this very red robe type thing that you put on the same way that you put on hospital gowns. Narrator: “The Snuggie keeps you totally warm, and gives you the freedom to use your hands.“ The woman then demonstrates how easy it is to reach for the phone while wearing the Snuggie — it is easy. And she has this wonderful smile on her face, one that says: ”Yes! American technology!“ It seems a tad bit unfortunate that she is using a cordless phone that looks like it’s right out of 1989, but I’m guessing people with 1989 cordless phones would probably be the target audience.
Follow-up scenes: Man in Snuggie who looks a lot like Friar Tuck sits in a recliner and shows conclusively that the Snuggie does not constrict remote control freedom of movement … Older woman in Snuggie reads a book (but you say: Isn’t it too dark there to read a book? We’ll get back to you on that one!) … Fairly young man wearing Snuggie goes to work on his computer while the narrator says, ”Use your laptop without being cold!“ … Friar Tuck is back, this time he’s hungry and wants to have a bowl of popcorn — and he CAN because the Snuggie has sleeves.
Product Close-up of Snuggie: A hand goes lightly over the top while narrator tells us about the Snuggie’s softness.
Older woman is back, now she’s knitting with the Snuggie which seems an odd thing to do since I thought the whole point of this commercial is that actual CLOTHES have become obsolete. … Original woman is back now, and she’s reading a book to a young girl who looks absolutely nothing like her but is apparently supposed to be the daughter. The daughter is wearing a Snuggie too. A new slogan, ”Wrapped in Warmth!“ appears on the screen.
And so on. There are some amazing follow ups — a man and a woman standing next to each other, both wearing Snuggies, looking like they are in some kind of monastery; a woman proving she could hold a baby OR a dog with her Snuggie; a campfire scene right out of the ”Blair Witch Project With Snuggies;“ a young woman sitting in her college dorm room wearing a Snuggie, apparently content to live a dateless life on campus and so on. And then, believe it or not, there are two scenes that top all the rest:
1. There’s a scene of the family — the guy who was working on his laptop, the woman who was so frustrated reaching for the phone, their daughter who looks nothing like either one — all of them at a ballgame, surrounded by people dressed in normal clothes like coats. And the three of them are sitting in the middle of it all, wearing these preposterous Snuggies, looking, seriously, like they are in some sort of very frightening fleece cult. It’s no wonder the people around them are trying desperately to ignore the dangerous Snuggie Family and just watch the game. It’s like a Cohn brothers movie.
2. The narrator says: ”Similar products sell for up to sixty dollars.“ I appreciate that every infomercial must have the ”similar products“ line in it. But in this case, well, one — similar products? Really? There have been previous unsuccessful attempts to sell the blanket with sleeves? And two — these failed entrepreneurs decided that sixty dollars was about the right price point? The narrator then offers the Snuggie for the amazing price of $14.95, which really is an amazing price. And it comes in three colors.
The commercial reiterates the many features of the Snuggie — you can use your remote, it will keep you warm, it has sleeves — and then they offer the bonus prize … a ”compact, press-and-open book-light,“ apparently so Grandma in her Snuggie can read the third Twilight book without raising her electricity bill.* That’s a $15 value absolutely free.
*I often wonder how they decide which cheap contraption gets to be the main item and which one has to be the lousy bonus prize. Like, couldn’t this have been a whole commercial about the ”press-and-open book-light,“ and as a bonus you get the blanket with sleeves? I’m sure they have market analysts who study it.
For people like me who love infomercials, this is Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, this is The Contest, this is Starry Night, this is the best there has ever been — utterly worthless product based on entirely absurd premise sold by actors who are apparently from outer space. It’s a masterpiece. And I should add that my 7-year-old daughter Elizabeth just came in her and watched the infomercial and said, ”I want a Snuggie.“ I’m beaming. Like father like daughter.