Biting the Bullet

The Magic Bullet, that is; the ‘personal, versatile countertop magician’.

I finally succumbed to temptation and ordered one.

I picked it up from the post office earlier in the week. I was expecting my new Visa card and was more than a bit surprised to see the two oversize white boxes, bound together like the machine and I soon will be.

The outside was emblazoned with the product name and the bold promise: It does ANY job in 10 seconds… or less.

ANY job! No wonder it’s magic.

I mean this is no ordinary blender. It’s a solution to all of life’s problems. Hell, it does pretty much anything. Short of money? The magic bullet sends two machines, so if times are tight, you can sell one. Out of quick meal ideas, there’s a mouthwatering booklet full of them. I’ve yet to try them on a news release or PR plan, but I’m sure the results would be just as good.

I’ve been a fan of the Bullet show for a couple of years now. What an extravaganza! It tells the story of a couple whose motley array of party guests stay the night and turn up in the kitchen the next morning, hungover yet ravenous. And the hosts proceed to do their culinary prestidigitation and satisfy everyone’s rather selfish tastes (though I wonder how many heads are aching from that incessant magic buzz).

I have a confession (if you haven’t already guessed): I watch infomercials. Usually in the middle of the night when I have the flu and am unable to sleep. And in my achy feverish state, nothing seems so hopeful as the life they portray. Whether it’s for a thorough cleansing by Dr. Ho, some one-size-fits-all fitness system, the songs of the name-your-decade hosted by a grizzled former icon of that same decade, it doesn’t matter. They soothe me. Offer me hope and dreams of a more perfect existence. And more than once, I’ve lifted the phone to place a call that I am convinced will not only cure my virus, it will lead me to salvation.

From a communications perspective, I think infomercials do a really good job. Each has its own memorable and entertaining story. They stick to their key messages which are polished till they gleam. And they’re always delivered by a knowledgeable (about one subject anyway) spokesperson; smoothly and, if you’re in the right frame of mind, believably.

And yes, they keep it simple – sometimes too simple. (They’re also repetitive and generally lack artistic merit.)

But for me their biggest triumph is that they play commercials for the commercial within the commercial; ad nauseum. And we accept it. Treat it like a play within a play, but with a 1-800 number instead of subtext.