Remembering ‘infomercial king’ Ron Popeil of Ronco

In an era when adland and its denizens are inclined to take themselves and their world somewhat seriously – I see that sports marketing agency Dark Horses has produced an “open-source” menopause policy, which is a bit of a stretch although doubtless useful – it’s as well to occasionally remind ourselves that advertising and marketing is also about the (unfashionable) business of selling stuff.

Ronald Martin Popeil (the ‘Ron’ in direct selling firm Ronco) has died in California aged 86. How Ron would have fared in an age of BLM, #MeToo, LGBT and the gender pay gap we know not. But he did receive a number of awards alongside his commercial successes including the Ig Nobel prize (geddit) in 1993 for trivial inventions.

Ron was known as the “infomercial king’ and his gruesome legacy is still with us today.

Although he was much better at it than most of today’s nerdy inventors and wooden spokespeople; surely a true pioneer.

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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