April 25, 1964
|Known for||Infomercial salesman|
Offer "Vince" Shlomi (born April 25, 1964 in Haifa, Israel), known as Vince Offer or the ShamWow! Guy, is a writer, director, and comedian. Offer's first major work was a 1999 comedy film called The Underground Comedy Movie, which was met with negative reception. In the 2000s, Offer began appearing on television commercials for the products ShamWow!, a super-absorbent towel, and the Slap Chop, a kitchen utensil.
In 1999 as a writer, director and actor, Offer released the The Underground Comedy Movie to less-than-favorable reviews. The New York Post said it "may be the least amusing comedy ever made," and Lawrence Van Gelder of The New York Times described the movie as "a series of sketches built around subjects like masturbation, defecation, alienation, urination, necrophilia, voyeurism, casual brutality, and mockery of the unfortunate." He added that Offer "makes the common mistake of equating the recognition of comic potential for comedy itself. For the successful, talent bridges the gap, but, here, it is absent." DVDs of the film were marketed via television infomercial.
The film also led to several lawsuits. Offer filed a copyright-infringement suit against Peter and Bobby Farrelly and Twentieth Century Fox, claiming that 14 scenes in There's Something About Mary were taken from his own film. The Farrelly brothers responded, "We've never heard of him, we've never heard of his movie, and it's all a bunch of baloney." The case was dismissed with prejudice on a motion for summary judgment by order of the court in 2000, and Twentieth Century Fox was awarded $66,336.92 in attorneys' fees. In addition, Offer successfully sued Anna Nicole Smith for breach of contract, alleging that Smith had agreed to appear in The Underground Comedy Movie but backed out, claiming it would hurt her career.
In 2004, Shlomi, an ex-Scientologist, sued the Church of Scientology with the help of attorney Ford Greene. He alleged that the church had declared him a criminal and had urged its members to commit libel against him. Offer claimed that the church's actions caused him to lose a successful business, as many of his employees were Scientologists who quit upon learning of what the church did.
Offer, who funded The Underground Comedy Movie with his own money, had trouble selling it. Inspired by the success of Girls Gone Wild marketing, he decided to put the trailer on an infomercial, and sold 50,000 copies via direct order.
The success of the The Underground Comedy Movie infomercial suggested to Offer that he should sell something more mainstream. Drawing upon his experience working in flea markets, he decided in 2006 to market a cleaning product that he saw there, an absorbent towel that he called the ShamWow!.
The advertisement, filmed in the summer of 2007 with a budget of $20,000, became a popular hit. Slate.com's Seth Stevenson praised Offer for his "impressive and subtle mastery of the pitchman's art" (with lines such as "you know the Germans always make good stuff"), and wondered if Offer's "abrasive manner might also mark a unique, new strategy in the annals of pitchdom." Stevenson compared Offer to earlier, "more upbeat" television pitchmen like the late Billy Mays and the Home Shopping Network hosts and concluded that Offer's "smooth-talking condescension" was more suited to the present "zeitgeist" than the "earnest fervor" of spokesmen like Mays and Ron Popeil.
Consumer Reports reported that the infomercial for ShamWow! initially featured Offer claiming that the product held "20 times its weight in liquid". Later, the infomercial was changed to Offer claiming the ShamWow! held "12 times its weight in liquid", then again to "10 times". Consumer Reports did its own test on the product and found that it does indeed hold 10 times its weight in liquid but no more.
Pitchman Billy Mays had been promoting a similar product called Zorbeez two years prior to Vince Offer's ShamWow! product. Mays noted that the ShamWow! commercials use many of the same product demonstrations as the earlier-produced Zorbeez commercial. In February 2009 while on the Adam Carolla radio show, Billy Mays publicly challenged Offer to a "pitch off" between their respective absorbent towel products. Popular Mechanics compared the absorbency of two towel products and declared ShamWow! the more effective of the two. This result had been hotly contested by Billy Mays before his death, and was a major part of the season finale of his Discovery Channel show PitchMen. During the finale episode, it was suggested that the Popular Mechanics tester did not use the Zorbeez correctly. Fox's Deal Or Dud segment tested the ShamWow and struggled to get the product working as advertised, calling it a "dud."
In December 2008, Offer, who had previously sold kitchen utensils at swap meets, appeared in another kitchen-gadget infomercial, advertising the Slap Chop and the Graty. The Slap Chop is a hand-held chopping device with internal blades; to operate it, the user places it over a food item and slaps down the button on the top. The Graty is a cheese grater operated by placing the cheese inside and then turning the outside housing of the utensil which causes the cheese to be grated. Offer's aggressiveness and use of double entendres like "you're gonna love my nuts" have earned him notoriety, and, according to an Adweek blog, helped make Offer "the man who could beat Billy Mays at his own game."
Billy Mays had been promoting a similar product set which included the Quick Chop utensil and the Quick Grater utensil prior to Vince Offer's Slap Chop/Graty product set. Mays again noted that the Slap Chop commercials use many of the same demos as the earlier-produced Quick Chop commercial. Mays said in the same Adam Carolla radio show interview in February 2009 that Offer stole not only the Zorbeez product idea, but also the Quick Chop idea.
DJ Steve Porter made a music video remix of the original Slap Chop infomercial, dubbing it "Rap Chop". After posting it to YouTube on April 25, 2009, it quickly spread over the internet. In July 2009, in an apparent deal between Porter and Shlomi, the "Rap Chop" was made into a real commercial that began airing nationwide. Porter's original remix included footage from the movie House Party and TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel Air; for the national infomercial, this footage was replaced with that of a woman break dancing and another dancer dressed in a pink rabbit costume, as the rights to use the Breakin' film footage had not been obtained.
On February 7, 2009, Offer was arrested in Miami Beach, Florida on a charge of felony battery after an altercation with a 26-year-old prostitute. Offer Shlomi contended that he struck the prostitute when she "bit his tongue and would not let go." Prosecutors later declined to file formal charges against either individual.