Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead: The Most Genius Infomercial Ever Created

Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead: The Most Genius Infomercial Ever Created
By Andrew Glassman

A Brevielle Juicer
It's 3:30am, the late run of Die Hard has come to a conclusion, and John McClane comes out victor once again.  Next up on the schedule, "Paid Programming".  It's the crack-cocaine of late night television, the infomercial.  The testimonials are fake, the products are cheap, and when you wake up at noon the next day you wonder what you're doing with your life.  I was expecting more of the same when I flipped on 'Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead' from the Netfilx Documentary section (this section is a guilty pleasure of many). The premise of the film is to follow Joe Cross, a middle aged Australian, on a road trip across America. Along the way, he participates in a juice fast. He consumes no food, only naturally created juice for 60 days.  At the end, we see Joe 100 pounds lighter, and looking healthier than a vegan training for an Ironman. Oh by the way, he only uses a Breville juicer.  At the end of the flick, you feel motivated to be healthy, inspired, ready to make changes in your life... if only you knew where to start (Hint: You won't want to be jucing 3 meals a day by hand!).  You my friend, have just been mind ninja'd by Joe Cross, the producer, writer, and star of the most genius infomercial ever.  Let's break down how Joe and Breville have managed to sell you a juicer, without you even realizing you've just sat through a 76mim sales pitch.

1) Joe sells you on buying a juicer, by not ever pitching a juicer.  The main motive of a sales pitch is to get the target customer to think they have a need for the product. Joe does this not by pitching the product, but by showing how his health has improved over the time span of the movie.  By focusing on the juice, and not the juicer, you don't feel like Joe is anything but a genuine guy who wants to help you.  Joe's approach differs from normal infomercials such as a Bow Flex, or Gazelle Freestyle.  Those types of infomercials focus on the product, and throw in a few body builders who wouldn't be caught dead using them in their daily routine.  Showing someone’s genuine journey to success with the product ever-present in the background I think is a juicy recipe for success!

2) Another sneaky but effective tactic used is how Joe mentions the  "Reboot" plan a few times.  It is said in such a way that you aren't sure if he is referring to a process, or a product. Upon visiting the website "http://www.fatsickandnearlydead.com/"  you see a large image linking you to "http://www.jointhereboot.com/".  Visit the website and there is a large picture of Joe smiling and juicing away!  Also a large image with the text "Ready to start juicing? Get the Breville" is right there for easy clicking.  They even let you sign up to get free juice plans.  They sell juicers, and juicer accessories.  Using the "Reboot" terminology seemed to be a way for Joe to do some branding, without overtly stating Reboot was even a brand!

3) There are many shots in the movie of Joe juicing many assorted fruits and veggies.  At no point does he overtly tell you how he easy it is, but it is apparent that it is a breeze to juice anything.  There is no cheesy "It's as easy as 1,2,3!" to be found in this film. It is interesting how you never see him clean it.  I bought a juicer and it is a chore to clean, it’s messy, and takes up a lot of space.

3) There are also testimonials within the film, aside from Joe's main journey for health.  There is one where a trucker loses a massive amount of weight, probably a few hundred pounds.  You actually are rooting for the guy in the testimonial.  When he triumphs this really solidifies the idea in the audiences mind that a juice fast is some kind of miracle diet.  Meanwhile,  Joe’s brother does not follow the diet and has a heart attack.  While this is all real life, it makes you wonder if the heart attack could have been avoided if only he had started the juice fast.

So if I had to write an infomercial for a new product, here are the points I'd borrow from Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead
1) Don't pitch the product, pitch the story of how your product will help the customer.
2) Don't focus on the product. Again, sell the story, but make sure your product is ever present.  Make sure your product appears easy to use, and hide the messy parts.
3) Let people who will actually use your product sell it.  Don't hire paid actors, or use people who wouldn't use your product normally.  If you don't make the testimonials believable, viewers may think your product is fake, or a hoax.
4) Casually brand your product throughout the infomercial.  Don't make it obvious what you are doing.
5) IMPORTANT: Make it insanely easy to find your product online.  This is where you can start selling the actual product by its brand name that was casually used in the infomercial.


At its core, "Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead" is an infomercial with all the annoying parts stripped out and thrown up on a web site.  This is an amazing idea that few have executed this well.  The stories are so genuine and honest, yet it plays so well in directing viewers to channels to buy a Breville juicer or Reboot products.  Even if a person starts juicing and doesn't buy their products, they will point their friends to the film, and they may become a potential customer.  Bottom line is that “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” is the most genius and entertaining infomercial I’ve seen in a long time.  If "Paid Programming" learns anything from Joe I'll be in for some more long nights.

10 comments:

  1. nice one Andrew.

    I was just about to purchase the DVD and thought I'd check out a few reviews.... yours being by far the best as an eye opener to say the least of it being one mega great infomercial.

    Ok so I'm not going ahead to but the dvd now.. BUT am now wanting to know lots more about creating infomercials or similar for marketing purposes.

    Great post you made thanks Andrew.

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  2. Thanks for reading Karen. I wouldn't suggest buying the DVD for entertainment purposes, but it would be worth a watch if you are intersted in marketing a product in a similar way. I'd suggest watching it on Netflix if you have it as it is free on there last I checked.

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  3. I agree this was a 1.5 hour (very watchable) infomercial. I wonder if he gets a kickback from Amazon for people who follow the juicer link from his site.

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  4. This is an insane marketing scheme - almost immoral in the way that they have even paid bloggers to make false posts discrediting any criticisms, and made fake optimistic comments as well to go with it. Where are the comments that rip on this whole thing? Deleted, never posted, sunk to the bottom of the google totem pole?
    Not to mentioned the fake and cheap one-off websites. Brilliant scheme - I even fell for it and bought a Breville juicer (with which I got a free Fat Sick and Nearly Dead DVD **better pass that along to a friend!) - the brand that revealed itself by googling. Didn't even consider other brands.
    Controlling people's sources for critical analysis - propaganda, wouldn't you say?

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    1. I didn't hear they were paying people to discredit criticism, but I wouldn't doubt it! Breville / Joe Cross really did come up with a ingenious campaign here. On the other hand, isn't all marketing propaganda to some extent? I think as crossover marketing like this becomes more and more popular, consumers will have to be very careful about which reviews to trust! I'm already wary of any product that has just a few too many 5 star amazon reviews.

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  5. This is exactly what the Fat Sick and Nearly Dead is. One giant advertisement for Breville.

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  6. The thing is it is actually educational and in fact he doesn't recommend his brand of juicer, I don't have that brand, who cares. While fasting isn't for me I found the movie educational and took away a new attitude towards vegetables. I agree however that it did seem a bit too good to be true and contrived at times. I would say though in this article you could take this view on anything and just lead a very cynical life. Take the information and make up your own mind.

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  7. Also - It was also an interesting insight into Americans fast food mentality.. all I'm saying is for an alleged infomercial (admittedly I was a little turned off when researching after the movie to see Joe Cross Reboot and a plethora of merchandise) there was actually a lot of good health advice and interesting topics.. hell of all infomercials had this much actual information it might almost be educational. The scene with him high-five'ing people running along the beach did raise my eyebrows though lol.. who does that.

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    1. Haha, yeah that scene cracked me up! I would definitely watch more infomercials if they were in this format. I'm actually surprised that other companies haven't tried this. Maybe Juicing just lent itself really well to this format. I could see CrossFit, or something like Weight Watchers working well for this too. Outside of health and weight loss, I wonder what kind of products this would work for.

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  8. The premise of the film is to follow Joe Cross, a middle aged Australian, on a road trip across America. Along the way, he participates in a juice fast. He consumes no food, only naturally created juice for 60 days.
    Joe Cross

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