I spend several hours each day watching (or at least listening to) the Current network on television. Much like the Food Channel used to be, Current programs are generally good for two or more showings each day and more importantly they serve as a middle-of-day forum for those advertisements generally considered late-night fare. Yes, it’s the world of progressive commentary, penetrating documentaries, and a more honest approach to the political world, all wrapped up in Ginsu knives, grout restorer, magic spot remover, food choppers, and all those Ronco-esque goodies Americans cannot resist.
I have always viewed (or ignored) these types of ads with a jaundiced eye and considered Ron Popeil a valuable alternative to Jerry Lewis but not as funny as the Reverend Jim. Throughout the years I have learned that the Ginsu knife, without the cool name and advertising hype, had been available in most hardware or general merchandise stores for years, that my vacuum cleaner could cut my hair and possibly even julienne my carrots, that I could catch an 1800 pound marlin on a two-foot plastic stick I kept ready in my briefcase for just such purposes, and if I ever go bald, there is a fantastic hair-in-a-can that even the Men’s Hair Club doesn’t offer.
But have you ever stopped to consider the economics of these wonderful products, especially with the fantastic if-you-order-today specials? Let’s walk it through.