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The Ginsu knife is a product most famous for the activities that were used to promote it. It was made famous through a series of long-form advertisements in the 1970s, paving the way for the modern day infomercial with its use of quirky catchphrases, comical quips, and urgent call to action, including the phrase "how much would you pay...don't answer" and "but wait, there's more".

Contents

Product development

Ginsu knives

The company is based in [[Rhode Island],USA, and was founded by Ed Valenti and Barry Becher. These two, who also founded the direct marketing agency Dial Media, found a set of knives made in Fremont, Ohio by the Douglas Quikut Division of Scott Fetzer. Originally called Eversharp, Valenti and Becher later changed it to the Japanese-sounding name "Ginsu" (Kanji Japanese: 銀簾, Hiragana: ぎんす).

The first Ginsu commercials aired in 1978, it began with a dramatic voice over: “In Japan, the hand can be used like a knife” with a man in a white karate uniform splitting a stack of wooden boards with his hand. “But this method doesn’t work with a tomato;” the voice over continues and the scene changes to show a hand smashing a tomato into a pulpy mess; which is where the Ginsu knife came in. It could “cut through a nail, a tin can, and a radiator hose and still cut a tomato paper thin,” touting the knives' ability to stay razor sharp even after having been put to the test.

These demonstrations coupled with the signature line “but wait, there’s more!” are seen as being one of the key moments in the development of the modern day infomercial.[1]

Ed Valenti demonstraiting Ginsu knives on QVC

Viewers were called to action with such phrases as “you get this all for the incredible low price of…,” “Now how much would you pay?” as well as one of the most legendary and well-known phrases “But wait! There’s more” and then asked to call in to a toll-free 1-800 number where phone banks were ready (operators are standing by!!) to take their orders from the moment the spot aired to days, even weeks after it ran; even on a 24 hour basis. The sense of urgency that was created by being advised to “call now” and that “supplies are limited!” helped to sell between two and three million Ginsu sets between 1978 and 1984. "Ginsu has everything a great direct response commercial could have," said John Witek, author of Response Television: Combat Advertising of the 1980s and a marketing consultant. "Ginsu had humor, demonstration, and a precisely structured series of premium offers I call 'the lots-for-a-little approach.'"[2][1]

Cultural impact

GinsuBookCover.JPG

Valenti and Becher went on to use this method of advertising with a number of other products such as the Miracle Slicer, Royal Durasteel mixing bowls, Vacufresh storage containers, the “Chainge” Adjustable Necklace, and Armourcote Cookware.[citation needed]

The Ginsu knives became so successful that they are still one of the best-known and most frequently mentioned products in the history of the US.[citation needed] According to their website Ginsu Guys.com, the comedian Gallagher made a career out of mimicking the commercial's antics. Jerry Seinfeld has joked, both in his stand-up comedy and book, SeinLanguage, that he ordered the Ginsu knife after seeing an infomercial airing so late at night that he was too tired to realize he had no use for the knives.

In April 2009, a stretch of road in Warwick, Rhode Island which passes the office of Ed Valenti, was named Ginsu Way.[3]

References

  1. ^ a b Reynolds, Bill (December 12, 1982), "GINSU! It came from Warwick - it devoured the marketing world", Sunday Journal Magazine: 3 
  2. ^ Auchmutey, Jim (1983), "But wait, there's more!", Advertising Age Special Report: 1 .
  3. ^ Associated Press (2009-04-03). "But wait, there's more! Call that road Ginsu". http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30036787/. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  • Becher, Barry; Ed Valenti (2005). The Wisdom of Ginsu: Carve Yourself a Piece of the American Dream. Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press. ISBN 1-56414-803-3. 
  • Reynolds, Bill (December 12, 1982), "GINSU! It came from Warwick - it devoured the marketing world", Sunday Journal Magazine: 3 .
  • Auchmutey, Jim (1983), "But wait, there's more!", Advertising Age Special Report: 1 .

External links

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