Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Commercial Break: ShamWOW!

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on September 17, 2008

You following me, blog readers?

Apparently this one’s been around for a while now, and it’s possible that I saw it when it first came out in Spring–when I saw this commercial for the ShamWow!, it jogged something long since buried in the back of my subconscious. Normally I’m pretty good at mentally glossing over infomercials, letting them become pointless background noise and tuning back in to my TV when the images are no longer unnervingly 80s (or in rare instances, early 90s)-stamped. But this one captured my attention enough that I had to actually pay attention to the product being sold, at which point, I seriously thought to myself, “Hey, my place could really use a couple of those [towel/sham hybrid] ShamWows!” I was mentally calculating the prices of the total package plus shipping and handling when I realized that something was clearly not right.

Much to my surprise, I appear to not be alone with this bizarre phenomenon–apparently Vince Offer, the
writer/actor/director turned scientologist, turned late-night pitchman, has this bewitching effect on many. The Slate article on him turns out a pretty thorough analysis as to why this may be–his transfixing New York accent, his “making us feel like idiots” for not already owning the ShamWow!, and his physical dexterity among the top reasons. (I’d also list the fact that at the very beginning of the commercial, he’s bracing himself like something really big is about to happen, giving us the impression that what we’re about to see is going to change our lives forever). The really remarkable thing, of course, is that Offer actually appears to have come from somewhere, as his brainchild Underground Comedy Movie was universally panned (like, IMDB Bottom 100 panned), and Offer stayed (relatively) in the media spotlight years afterwards with related frivolous lawsuits against the Farrelly Brothers and Anna Nicole Smith.
ShamWow!, indeed.

The Slate article goes on to wonder whether or not Billy Mays will be supplanted as TV’s go-to pitchman/carnival barker. Personally, I’m just glad that someone, anyone decided that the infomercial world needed a makeover–these types of ads usually seem so permanently stuck in the past that just watching one of them makes me feel like I’ve aged five years. If Offer wants to inject some new blood into the formula, I’d probably buy a set of these things (which, by the way, are titled just like a fictional product from a Mr. Show sketch) just to cast a vote of support for the man. Regardless of his past transgressions, and his looking like the My New Haircut guy’s attempt at part-time employment, I hope that he’ll be condescending to me on late-night commercials for years to come.

4 Responses to “Commercial Break: ShamWOW!”

  1. Sonja said


    We were watching late at night with Dan and some of Sam’s roommates, and we split a mega-pack or whatever.



    we get really excited when we spill something because then it’s SHAMWOW time, and Magan spilled tomato sauce the other day and Shamwow took it off the rug with just a little bit of water. Amazing.

  2. vincent said

    ShamWow! cloths wash, dry, and polish any surface. They are like a towel, chamois, and sponge all in one–except they’re extremely absorbent and can be used over and over. ShamWow! towels are machine washable and bleachable, will not scratch surfaces, and will last for more than 10 years!

    8 ShamWow towels for only $19.95 and $7.95 shipping and handling.

    When you order the 8 ShamWow cloths through this site, we can offer you the ShamWow Mop for 50% off.

    The ShamWow Mop normally sells for $20 but, with your order today, you are qualified to receive the ShamWow Mop for only $10 and $7.95 shipping and handling. (ShamWow Mop sold only with ShamWow towels)

    ShamWow Mop has the same super absorbent material as the ShamWow towels! The ShamWow Mop does not drip and your hands will never have to touch a dirty mop head or touch the water because all you do is turn and twist the ShamWow Mop handle. The ShamWow Mop head comes off easily, it’s machine washable, bleachable and comes with a 5 year warranty.

    You are also qualified to receive ShamWow Shutter Cleaner for 50% off! Cleaning shutters is time consuming. ShamWow Shutter Cleaner sells for $20, but with your order today, it’s only $10 and $7.95 shipping and handling.

    ShamWow Shutter Cleaner is a handheld device with three ShamWow microfiber-covered arms. These protruding microfiber arms slide into the spaces between the blinds. Press the lever at the bottom of the device and the arms will grip the blinds then with one swoop you’ll be able to clean the dirt and dust.

    It’s also great for air conditioner vents, fans, railings, and light fixtures. The microfiber is removable, machine washable and bleachable, plus it also comes with an extra microfiber sleeve and has a 5 year warranty.

    Also, with your order we offer the ShamWow Buffing Ball for 50% off and FREE shipping!

    The ShamWow Ball sells for $30, but with your order today, it’s only $15.00, and FREE shipping!(ShamWow Ball sold only with ShamWow towels)

    It’s great for polishing and waxing vehicles, furniture, household, and hard to reach areas like spoke and mag wheels, antiques, shutters, faucets and much more.

    It attaches to any drill and will remove scuffs, oxidation, tarnish, brake dust, and corrosion on all metals and painted surfaces. It comes with a 5 year warranty and is Machine Washable.

  3. […] we’ve spent a great deal of webspace on this blog delving into the psychology and transfixing appeal of the ShamWOW! (a product which I finally actually bought at a K-Mart, and have yet to use, though […]

  4. PKN said

    I’ve had to shamwow mops , they are great… BUT The mop handle sucks. I have not been able to buy the mop head so far and have to buy the package deal. I finally found a mop handle that is quality and fits the mop head ( O Ceder Pro Twist). Now if I can just buy the mop head itself.

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