TV TV Reviews

TiVo Alert: PITCHMEN on Discovery

Billy Mays (the bearded one) and Anthony Sullivan (the other guy) are two of those “As Seen on TV” pitchmen, shilling products ranging from stick-up lightbulbs to cleaning supplies to other handy household products.

Since these infomercials have become so ingrained in the public consciousness (“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”), The Discovery Channel has decided to make Pitchmen, a reality-TV show about what it takes to get a new product from the pitch to TV.

Similar in concept to the ABC program AMERICAN INVENTOR from a few years ago, people from around the country bring their inventions to a pitch meeting with Billy, Anthony, and the president of Tele-Brands in the hopes that they too have the Next Greatest Must-Have item.

Along the way, we learn a little bit about what it takes to be a successful telemarketed product, such as:

  • The product needs to be marketable to the widest possible audience.  A product intended to be used only by a small, very specific age group is less likely to be picked up.
  • The product can’t kill someone when being used normally.  Keeping someone from falling asleep while driving?  That’s a good thing.  Giving them an epileptic seizure while doing so?  Not so much.
  • The product has to be demonstrable on TV.  A “wow” factor during a demo really helps.
  •  The product needs to be instantly explainable on sight.  If the product can’t be summed up completely in a 2-minute commercial, then the product is too complicated.
  • Price is important, try to keep the pitch below $2o (if it is financially feasible to do so, of course).  And throw in some extra freebies to sweeten the deal.

Compared to other behind-the-scenes reality-TV shows, viewers actually learn a little bit about the production process and how much work goes into making an entertaining infomercial that is also successful in selling product.

To tide you over until the next episode of Pitchmen airs, take a look at these infomercial bloopers and outtakes: