Ron Popeil is the incarnation of American genius

Come on, young people: gather around the light of the smartphone screen, tell the story of a distant age when we watched TV on a large boxy machine, and switch channels when we are bored.

There are advertisements between segments of the TV show-several of them. What’s more, in the distant era before streaming, you had to watch it all-or, if you have time, run to the kitchen or bathroom. You can’t pause, fast forward, or take the screen with you.

In the darkest hour, when all the real programs are used up, nocturnal creatures appear-known as beasts of information commercials, they are entire TV shows about people selling that may be useful to you but you may not know Of the product people wanted.

Direct pioneers of these home shopping channels and other 21st century content marketing techniques Ron PopperThe American original creator gave the word “Ronco” to the world and died on Wednesday at the age of 86. He thrived.

The United States has always been attracted by energetic inventors and spinning salesmen. pope Both are, amplified by radio waves to millions of homes. he Is a gadget innovator his Father, yes, but he is also a popularizer. He can intuitively understand the common-sense needs of consumers, and then find easy-to-use ways to attract them to purchase.

he Titled his The 1996 memoir “Salesman of the Century”, and he He is a central figure in the 20th century and a cultural descendant of Thomas Edison and PT Barnum. He is a man, and his “seen on TV” advertisements in the 1970s, from the amazing Mr. Wireless Microphone to Popeil Pocket Fisherman to Rhinestone & Stud Setter, have become the touchstones of popular culture-because he managed to come up with them and Become the public spokesperson for the TV generation we now call X.

He is the chief executive officer, sales representative, and chief user all in one. Whether it’s a Showtime Rotisserie (“set it and forget it”), a food dehydrator or a GLH-9 aerosol can (“GLH” is short for “beautiful hair”), he was there, screaming about its advantages in the 1980s and In the 1990s, we lay in bed and considered turning off the TV. He edited his TV shopping ad, scribbled his reminder card, and wrote a copy for his “standby operator.”

He would call his children by a friendly name (Popeil Electric Pasta-Sausage Maker became “Pasta-Sausage”), as everyone knows, he would say “I created jerky categories”. From time to time, he would become a Shatner-style staccato to express his opinion: “A child! You can make it! Homemade sausage!” One night in 1997, he was found yelling on QVC.

But wait-there is more. Just as he did in the 20th century—a Chicago open market who used television to propel himself to success barking—he also saw the coming possibilities, and it is now being staged in the fragmented 21st century, a fusion of all media The big business of the times and advertising become content, and then into advertising.

One of the main reasons popeWhen people decide to make fun of it, its ubiquity becomes obvious he – Because he Choices, cunning and strategically, are always joking.

In 1976, Dan Aykroyd used the commercial imitation “Bass-O-Matic” to send him to the “Saturday Night Live”, pope Realize that this is free publicity, like he When “Weird Al” Yankovic recorded a parody song. Years later, Popper starred in various TV shows, from “X-Files” to the anime “Simpsons” and “King of the Hill.”

However, most notably, he is happy to provide his TV shopping content to filmmakers, who are looking for content that can be played in the TV background. In this way, he effortlessly expanded his ubiquitous reputation-and his ever-evolving Blink pop culture brand for free. Others did this work and he got eyeballs.

Even after the second chapter of success, bankruptcy and success, pope Insist in believing his The motivation for invention is not just business; it is, he Say, a little obsessed. “I have enough money today,” he Tell reporters about the Associated Press’s profile in 1997. “But I can’t stop. If I need these things, I can’t extricate myself.”

In that profile, pope Demonstrates how “GLH-9” can be done on the bald part of the back his After a few hours, the scalp was numb, some of which were under the hot lights of the shopping channel.What didn’t enter the story was pope The visiting reporter warned: “Touch! It even feels very real.” The reporter did it, and it did it-kind of.

An episode like this-which feels like a face-to-face interaction of a moment in a TV commercial-helps explain the opposite moment: his It feels like a face-to-face commercial advertisement.Those are popeStock trading. The best performers—including the best salespeople—make you think they are not performing at all.

So in the 1970s, you believed that Mr. Microphone could open the door to various ways to impress the opposite sex.In the 1990s, you totally believed if Ron Popper Can stand there, on the set his TV commercials, make delicious sausages with fresh salmon, dill, soybeans and crushed red peppers in two minutes, somehow you can too.

You believe it. This has always been the basis of good sales. You also believe that this person—this is well-known throughout the country, and is in your room at 2 in the morning. Obviously the nagging person who only talks to you—will continue to visit you late at night tomorrow, next month and next year. You never know what you need.

Or, as the pope himself likes to say, wait—there is more.for Ron Popper, his Stand upright at the intersection of Barnum and Edison, there is always there.


Ted Anthony, director of innovation for the Associated Press’s new story and newsroom, spent a few days Ron Popper For AP profile he 1997.

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