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The wisdom of Ig Nobel winner Ron Popeil

Ron Popeil is being showered with new recognition. Mr. Popeil was awarded the 1993 Ig Nobel Prize in consumer engineering for redefining the industrial revolution with such devices as the Veg-O-Matic, the Pocket FishermanMr. Microphone, and the Inside-the-Shell Egg Scrambler. [REFERENCE: “The Salesman of the Century : Inventing, Marketing, and Selling on TV: How I Did It and How You Can Too!“].

A new book, But Wait … There’s More!: Tighten Your Abs, Make Millions, and Learn How the $100 Billion Infomercial Industry Sold Us Everything But the Kitchen Sink, analyzes some of Mr. Popeil’s innovative techniques. Here’s a sample:

All the time-tested strategies were on display: he offered bonuses or freebies as incentives, and heightened tensions by warning people that he only had a certain number of units on hand (“supplies are limited!”). He assigned numbers to his customers—”You’re number eight, you’re number nine,” and so on—which gave them the impression that you had to get in line to take advantage of the great deal he was offering up. He employed the classic countdown technique, where he systematically lowered the price as he neared the end of the pitch. and when he was at the very end and started accepting cash, he avoided selling the item to the last batch of eager customers, instead launching into a fresh pitch. To get new people to come over and watch a demonstration, it requires that other people be standing in rapt attention. “Wait, there’s something else i want to show you before you take this home with you,” he might say.

Al Yankovic made a music video tribute called “Mr. Popeil“:

Here are a very few of Mr. Popeil’s many TV commercials:


Improbable Research