If you live in the U.S. and watch TV, you’ve likely seen an infomercial. But do these products work? While many do, others have made our list of Greatest Infomercial Fails with often hilarious results.
On average, 300,000 of these ads go on the air per month. But what are infomercials? If you’re saying, “Oh, I know! Those gimmicky, late-night commercials,” then you’re right. In case you’ve never seen one, infomercials are long, low budget ads. They usually air in the wee hours between late night shows and the early-morning news broadcasts.
Because most people are asleep during these hours, this is when ad rates are the cheapest. In fact, the TV industry has names for these times and those watching: Graveyard Slots and the “Post Late Fringe.” During this time, you can buy everything from a solar lantern to Magic Mesh.
So how did we come up with our list of infomercial fails? We talked to people we know and also scoured the web for the most cited examples.
1. The Hawaii Chair
The Hawaii Chair first grabs your attention because it looks silly from the start. “Take the work out of your workout. The Hawaii Chair,” a voice sings softly over the gentle strains of a ukulele. Then the camera cuts to the pitchman and a woman with perfect abs in a chair that swivels her hips.
The ad claims the chair provides a passive workout for your abdominal muscles. And all you need to do is sit on a seat attached to a 2,800 rpm motor. Then, the seat creates a “hula” motion so you can sculpt your abs while working or watching TV. “If you can sit, you can get fit,” the commercial claims.
If only getting a good workout was that easy. Not only does this chair look ridiculous, it made Time‘s list of the 50 Worst Inventions. And although it has a 5-star rating on Amazon, only three people have ranked the product. Furthermore, these reviews appear to be tongue-in-cheek, with one saying it’s “great for mixing paint or shaking cocktails.”
EZ Hula Exercise Chair (Gray Base)
- WORK & EXERCISE AT THE SAME TIME: Whether you’re working from home or you have an office desk job, this swinging chair…
- IMPROVE YOUR BALANCE & STABILITY: Creating a swinging motion similar to the hula hoop, this backless chair will force…
- HAVE FUN & RELIEVE STRESS: Too stressed from work or school? Jump on this exercise chair while watching TV or listening…
Do you still have your heart set on the Hawaii Chair? Before you buy it, check out this hilarious footage from the Ellen Show.
It’s never a good sign when a product’s website has to reassure visitors that they aren’t a gag, but that’s exactly that case with The Slob Stopper.
“This is a REAL product! The Slob Stopper is an adult bib meant to fix those messy spills and stains, especially for the busy, commuter lifestyle,” the website reads.
That’s right, the Slob Stopper is an adult bib and “coffee and donut-blocking poncho.” While this product can definitely help commuters keep their outfits clean while driving to work, would you wear this?
Furthermore, if you commute to work via public transit or need this product while out and about, you’ll look absurd. Although Readers Digest rated the product as “effective,” footage from the live tests shows how bizarre it looks.
We might have reached peak infomercial fail with this product.
“It’s the problem in the marriage bed that no one likes to talk about…Maybe that’s why they call it ‘silent but deadly,’” says the narrator at the opening of the infomercial.
The solution? The Better Marriage Blanket of course.
The Better Marriage Blanket looks like a regular blanket. However, it has a hidden layer of activated carbon to conceal certain bedroom “odors.” The infomercial also notes that they’ve made the blanket from “the same type of fabric used by the military to protect against chemical weapons.” You know, just in case.
The Fat Magnet makes some alluring claims. The device allegedly removes fat from meals. How does this supposedly work?
The device consists of a metal plate attached to a plastic handle. The user is intended to freeze the device and then glide the metal plate over the top of hot, greasy foods. The grease is to solidify on the metal plate for easy removal from the dish.
Handy Gourmet Fat Magnet
- Removes excess fat from greasy food
- Fat magnet absorbs fat floating on the surface of foods
- Easy to handle
Unfortunately, many consumer reports and tests show that it isn’t very effective. Here’s a video from ABC 15 that shows a woman testing the Fat Magnet. Not only was she not impressed, but she also said a paper towel does the job better.
Barking is an issue that dog owners are all too familiar with. Doorbells, garbage trucks, and loud noises can trigger fits of howling and barking especially in homes with multiple dogs.
BarkOff offers a way to simply turn that barking “off.”
At least that’s what they claim.
“Instantly get your dog to stop the nuisance barking,” the commercial for BarkOff says. They claim the product works because of the ultrasonic sound waves it emits. Although humans can’t hear them, the high-pitched sound waves are supposed to have an effect on dogs.
Dog Ultrasonic Anti Barking Training Aid
- Takes on 9v battery.
- I am a dog lover & have two myself, they no longer bark when the doorbell rings
- There is no more barking & fighting through the back fence with the neighbors two dogs.
Reports show this product is just one of many infomercial fails. In fact, Lisa Kaplan Gordon from AOL’s Wallet Pop declared, “I’m filing Barkoff under ‘ripoffs.'”
Sure, this product is on our list of infomercial fails. But, for Halloween, it could be a win! The Rejuvenique Electric Facial Mask is a Michael Myers-esque contraption that claims to work out your facial muscles. In effect, this is supposed to tighten and tone your face to help you look more youthful.
“If you can get the idea of what doing 8 sit-ups a second would do for your stomach, you have an idea of what Rejuvenique will do for your face,” their spokesman says in an infomercial for the product.
The mask uses a 9-volt battery and claims to work by sending electrical “impulses” to specific areas of your face. In addition to this product not working, reviewers across the web note that the product is uncomfortable to use. In fact, some say it’s downright painful. While there are many positive reviews on Amazon, most are not from verified buyers. Also, some of them are clearly meant to be funny. One gives it four stars but warns it’s “not for the faint of heart. Another declares, “I’d kill for a face like that,” then adds, “Although you can’t see it, I’m smiling inside.”
Rejuvenique RJV10KIT Facial Toning Mask Kit
- Face mask’s 26 gold-plated contacts tone skin with light energy pulsation
- Battery-operated (9-volt battery included)
- Knob adjusts pulsation intensity to suit individual preference
Here’s a video with a product review from TechSmart.
“There really is something almost magical about ‘The Flo,’” says a spokeswoman for this product. But when you watch the video, you’ll see why it made our list of infomercial fails.
The Flo is a part workout and part relaxant. It’s a long tube with handles on the end. The clear, plastic tube comes filled with water for a weighted aerobic workout.
The ad is 5 minutes long. And most of it consists of a music with a montage of scenes with people using The Flo on mountaintops, in their bedrooms, in the park, and with their significant others. Also, the ad suggests that The Flo provides a new and revolutionary for people of all ages and backgrounds to get fit.
The Hot Yoga Towel. Eco-Friendly, Lightweight, Insanely Absorbent,…
- REDUCE INJURIES: Lightweight, insanely absorbent, non slip grip. Improve your balance instantly!
- DISCOUNT YOGA SET OFFER: Buy two or more YDL products and get 10% or more off your order. Promotion codes are listed…
- ECO FRIENDLY: 100% microfiber made from recycled plastic bottles! Colorful, non fade, patterned designs are printed with…
The reality is that there is nothing new or revolutionary about The Flo. There are certainly more effective and cost-efficient methods of Aerobic exercise.
While many of these ads seem over the top and a bit crazy, most Americans don’t seem to mind. In 2015 the U.S. market for these products was estimated to reach $250 million. And of course, you’ll find lots of high-quality products among the infomercial ads. However, you should definitely stay away from the ones on this list.
Featured image: CC0 Public Domain via Max Pixel.