By: Kyleen McNicholas
The trees have been decorated, the lights have been hung, and Christmas shopping shenanigans have begun. Oh yes ladies and gentlemen, it is finally that time of year—the holidays. As the year rapidly comes to an end, we must examine the best and worst products that have been put out throughout the past year. For my fellow infomercial addicts, this year on my list of the worst of the worst undoubtedly is the notorious Shake Weight
The Shake Weight has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame thanks to the suggestive-looking way you’re supposed to handle the arm-toning workout product. On the product’s website, the exercise is described as an isometric contraction of the entire upper body caused by the unique motion of the exercise. The Shake Weight uses a technology called dynamic inertia (a term coincidentally brought to life at the same time as the Shake Weight).
Since the time of its release, the Shake Weight has been featured on many shoes including SNL and The Ellen Show. While being featured on the shows, the product’s “unique movement” is demonstrated and often related back to an obvious sexual innuendo about the workout product. However, in September 2010, Shake Weight inventor Johann Verheem claimed in an interview with The Consumerist that the company was not trying to be suggestive in the infomercial at all—and that the motion is not that dirty if you follow the proper instructions. Verheem stated during the interview that, “We had a bunch of people here from the industry, a lot of women on the set, and they didn’t make MANY comments. But, it depends how you shake it as well. If you do it based on the three exercises that we have laid out, it’s not that suggestive.”
Later on in the interview, Verheem goes on to defend his selling strategy, despite him stating the ad was never meant to be a sexual innuendo; “It’s not just that sex sells,but one of the other things very important in direct selling, in infomercials, is that a product looks different enough for someone to stop and watch it. And that movement you make with a Shake Weight, well, it looks different.” That it does.
Despite the comical remarks audiences enjoy making about the product, has the product’s advertising strategy really been effective? The Shake Weight may enjoy a short-term rise to fame, but predictions say the fame is limited. So as you say farewell to 2010, also have one last laugh and say farewell to the beloved Shake Weight.