The Ginsu knife is a product most famous for the promotional activities that were used to promote it. It was made famous through a series of long-form advertisements in the 1970s and it is claimed paved 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".

Product development

Ed Valenti and Barry Becher, founders of the Rhode Island based direct marketing agency Dial Media, found a set of knives made in Freemont, Ohio by the Douglas Quikut Division of Scott Fetzer. Originally called Eversharp, Valenti and Becher decided that they had to come up with a more alluring name before the product could become a true success and catch on in mainstream media Fact|date=April 2008. After some discussion, they came up with the faux Japanese sounding name ‘Ginsu'.

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 the modern day infomercial. (Citation| last = Reynolds| first = Bill| title = GINSU! It came from Warwick - it devoured the marketing world| newspaper = Sunday Journal Magazine| pages = 3| year = 1982| date = December 12, 1982).

History in the making

The real challenges came in fitting a 20-25 minute product demonstration into a 2 minute time block and garner enough attention in the first few seconds to get the viewer to tune in and eventually purchase. Valenti and Becher’s first success with this method evolved from a conundrum Becher faced when having to paint his ceiling. Could this task be accomplished in a faster, easier, albeit smarter way? The answer was yes and came when Becher found an obscure paint pad which allowed him to paint his ceiling in “half the time of a paint brush” without the “mess or fuss.” Dubbed by the pair, the Miracle Painter, they immediately hit the airwaves catching people’s attention by showing a man painting his ceiling in a tuxedo. “Why is this man painting his ceiling a tuxedo?” the spot asks – and answers with the products no-drip ability.

Viewers were then ‘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 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: Combate 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.'" (Citation| last = Auchmutey | first = Jim| author-link = | title = But wait, there's more!| newspaper = Advertising Age Special Report| pages = 1| year = 1983.)(Citation| last = Reynolds| first = Bill| title = GINSU! It came from Warwick - it devoured the marketing world| newspaper = Sunday Journal Magazine| pages = 3| year = 1982| date = December 12, 1982).

Cultural impact

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, Armourcote Cookware Fact|date=April 2008.

The Ginsu knives became so successful that it is still one of the most well known and mentioned products in history of USFact|date=April 2008. According to their website [ Ginsu] , the Comedian Gallagher made a career out of mimicking the commercials antics, Jerry Seinfeld did a routine on Ginsu on Jay Leno the night of his show’s last episode, Johnny Carson used it as a standing part of his nightly routine for years, Joe Piscopo, John Belushi, Phil Hartman and Dan Akroyd all incorporated Ginsu into skits on “Saturday Night Live,” Tony Soprano often mentions Ginsu when seated at the “family” dinner table on the HBO series “The Sopranos,” and the comic strip, “The Wizard of Id” and The New Yorker Magazine cartoons routinely featured Ginsu references.

Other mentions include movies such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sleepless in Seattle and Scrooged with Bill Murray, as well as television sitcoms. In addition, Ginsu knives been featured in numerous documentaries on national television networks ranging from, ABC (Chronicle) and The History Channel to the Discovery Channel and The Arts and Entertainment (A&E) Network and VH1’s “Pop Up Videos ” and VH1 ’s “I love the 70’s. Mike Tisdale discover Ginsu Knives.


Citation| last = Reynolds| first = Bill| title = GINSU! It came from Warwick - it devoured the marketing world| newspaper = Sunday Journal Magazine| pages = 3| year = 1982| date = December 12, 1982.

Citation| last = Auchmutey | first = Jim| author-link = | title = But wait, there's more!| newspaper = Advertising Age Special Report| pages = 1| year = 1983.

Citation| last = Smith | first = Andy| title = But wait, there's more!| newspaper = Providence Journal| pages = 1| year = 2005| date = March 28, 2005.

[ – About: The Ginsu Guys]

External links

* [ Ginsu]
* [ He Sliced and Diced His Way Into Pop Culture]
* [ Death of an Ad Man] .
* []
* [ Original Ginsu Commercial]
* [ Original Ginsu Commercial II]

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