Ginsu

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The Ginsu is a brand of direct marketed knife sold on television using infomercials characterized by hawker and hard sell pitch techniques. The ads fueled sales of between two and three million Ginsu sets between 1978 and 1984.[citation needed]

History[edit]

Ginsu knives were originally called Quickut, made by a company in Fremont, Ohio. Since "Quickcut" lacked panache, Ed Valenti. Barry Becher, and copywriter Arthur Schiff created a name that alluded to the exceptional sharpness and durability of Japanese Samurai swords (known as katana).

As Valenti told the Palm Beach Post in 2011, "We were mindful that the last thing anyone wanted was another set of knives. The challenge was to position the product so that it made every other knife you owned obsolete."[1]

The resulting Ginsu ads copied the hard sell direct marketing techniques of carnival hawkers pioneering TV pitchman Ron Popeil had adapted to the medium in the 1960s. In the process, they helped solidify the formula for the modern infomercial. Equally voluable and ubiquitous, late 1970s U.S. television advertisements for the "amazing" Ginsu knife asked, "How much would you pay? Don't answer!", urged viewers to "Call now! Operators are standing by!" and included the signature "But wait! There's more!", which became a popular infomercial catch phrase ever since.[1]

Media scholar Robert Thompson, of Syracuse University, called the Ginsu advertising campaign "the pitch of all pitches."[1] "Ginsu has everything a great direct-response commercial could have," said John Witek, a marketing consultant and author of Response Television: Combat Advertising of the 1980s. "Ginsu had humor, demonstration, and a precisely structured series of premium offers I call 'the lots-for-a-little approach'."[2][3]

Valenti and Becher later repeated the advertising formula with other products such as the Miracle Slicer, Royal Durasteel mixing bowls, Vacufresh storage containers, the Chainge Adjustable Necklace, and Armourcote Cookware.[1]TV pitchmen Billy Mays and Vince Offer employed the hard-sell informercial to great success in more contemporary times.

While the name Ginsu was created from whole cloth, Becher later translated the word as meaning "I never have to work again".[4]

In April 2009, a stretch of road in Warwick, Rhode Island, which passes the office of Ed Valenti was named "Ginsu Way".[5]

In 2013, Consumer Reports reviewed the Ginsu Chikara knife set in their comparison of fifty knife sets and rated it as their "Best Buy". It tied for fourth place in quality, at less than a quarter of the price of similarly rated models.[6][7][8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d quoted in obituary of Barry Becher, Washington Post (DC), June 28, 2012, p. B6.
  2. ^ Reynolds, Bill (December 12, 1982), "GINSU! It came from Warwick – it devoured the marketing world", Sunday Journal Magazine: 3 
  3. ^ Auchmutey, Jim (1983), "But wait, there's more!", Advertising Age Special Report: 1 .
  4. ^ Hevesi, Dennis (30 June 2012). "Barry Becher, a Creator of Ginsu Knife Commercials, Dies at 71". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 March 2013. 
  5. ^ Associated Press (2009-04-03). "But wait, there's more! Call that road Ginsu". Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  6. ^ http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/home-garden/kitchen/kitchen-knives/kitchen-knives-ratings/ratings-overview.htm
  7. ^ DiClerico, Daniel. "In Consumer Reports' tests of cut-rate knives, Ginsu skewers Ronco". Yahoo!. 
  8. ^ http://www.thetruthaboutknives.com/2013/08/consumer-reports-kenji-lopez-alts-kitchen-knife-video-shootout/

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]