Brightreviews presents an occasional series that looks at some of the familiar faces that pitch a variety of “As Seen On TV” products. Today’s episode features two of the most famous whose pitch styles are also complete opposites: Marc Gill and Vince Offer
Marc Gill: From Door to Door to “As Seen On TV”
He’s big, he’s bald, and he’s your buddy. Marc Gill is 6 foot 2 and weighs 300 pounds, but he also has that infectious enthusiasm and genuine smile that seems to magically move units. Mr. Gill could be considered a classic pitchman who worked his way up to fame and fortune by literally knocking on doors. He was born and raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada and began his illustrious salesman career first selling vacuum cleaners door to door, then later tube socks, watches, cookbooks and more.
Image: Ronco via Bloomberg
From there, he ventured into hawking products at county fairs, but it wasn’t until 2006 that he entered the big time of television pitching. That’s when a friend called who worked for the Home Shopping Network, offering him $200 to fill in for two shows. Sensing an opportunity, Gill said he sold his Canada home and moved to Florida. Luckily for him, his appearance was an immediate hit!
Marc’s bigger than life personality has made him the go-to pitchmen for many As Seen On TV companies and their products, including Plumber’s Hero, Mighty Meatballs, and Windo Bully to name a few. He attributes part of his success to the fact that he’s you’re buddy – “I’m the guy who’s going to cook you a steak in your backyard, fix the hole in your wall… I’m not going to change the world or argue politics with you, I’m just going to cook you some burgers,” he said.
Marc is paid well for his appearances (in the six-figures) but as an independent contractor, he says he’s only as good as his last infomercial and sometimes worries about the future. Still, things are looking up for Mr. Gill as in 2014 he became the spokesman for Ronco Ready Grill. “I’ve still a relative baby… but I’ve been in the business long enough to know that if I show up with a [product] the whole goddamn country wants it,” he joked.
Marc has his own website based on his favorite tagline called butimnotstoppingthere.com – right now it’s under construction, probably because he’s too busy shooting infomercials!
Vince Offer: The ShamWow! Guy
Vince Offer (his real name is Offer Shlomi) was born in Israel in 1964 but grew up in Brooklyn, NY – that’s probably where he learned his slick, in your face pitch style laced with sexual innuendo that made him famous… and infamous.
Vince first began his career in public life by writing and starring in The Underground Comedy Movie (1999) a film that the New York Times called “wretched” and said it “stands as a monument to ineptitude and self-delusion.”
It’s not surprising, then, that Mr. Offer had a hard time selling the film. What is surprising is that, inspired by the “Girls Gone Wild” video series, Vince created a infomercial for the DVD of his movie and bought time on Comedy Central; he claims to have moved 50,000 units that way and sold a further 50,000 in retail.
Vince had a nose for business and a taste for success, but it wasn’t until 2006 when he came up with the ShamWow! based on a chamois he had seen sold in county fairs. (He was once a fair pitchman, too.)
The first ShamWow! commercial was released in 2007 and made for just $20,000. It became an instant smash, making the smirking Mr. Offer and his headset famous in the process. His pitch style was a little more aggressive than others (sometimes he’d throw objects out a fake window for effect) and often contained risqué double-entendres: “You’re gonna love my nuts!” he said about the Slap Chop, his successful follow up product, in 2008.
Then, just as things seemed to be going great, Vince let the endless stream of money flowing into his bank account feed his vices. He got caught up in a scandal in 2009 involving a prostitute; she claimed he beat her up, while Vince countered that she bit his tongue, forcing him to fight back. While both parties eventually dropped the charges, the resulting publicity put a big black mark on his career.
Since that time, Vince has made a series of comeback attempts including pitching an Eminem CD (aptly called “Recovery”), a reusable lint roller called the Schticky, and a peeler called the Da Vinci Pro. In an attempt to further clean up his act, he invented a kitchen cleanser called InVinceable in 2013.
Still, nothing has caught on quite like the ShamWow! or the Slap Chop. (Over at our sister publication Highya, InVinceable gets just 1.5 stars, Consumer Reports says the Schticky is too hard to clean, and the Da Vinci Pro appears to have been discontinued.)
Mr. Offer appears to be mellowing out a little bit – in 2014 he married his girlfriend Melody Claire in Malibu. Reflecting on his spectacular fall-from-grace he says, “it probably saved my life.”
So there you have it – a peek at a couple of TV’s most famous pitchmen. Who are your favorites? Be sure to let us know below!