Monday, January 03, 2011

My Favorite WTF Commercial

I realize that acronyms like WTF are ridiculously overused, but I don't know what else conveys my reaction to this particular ad more perfectly every time I see it. And because I still see it several times a day, I am compelled to comment. Also, because I'm incredibly opinionated, I feel compelled to comment. It's from a company called InventHelp®.

Don't get me wrong. I am a strong believer that it takes many failures before you reach success; otherwise, you're not really trying. And I'm very impressed with inventors and entrepreneurs. I even had my own business in the 90s. The statistic I heard quoted the most was: "Ninety percent of all businesses fail in their first year." So when I made it through my first year, I thought I was in the clear. Then I learned, "And after that, another 50% fail in the second." Suck.

My business lasted four years. It was fun and challenging but it just didn't provide a reliable, steady income. The only reason I started it? After being laid off in the recession of '92 (that wasn't acknowledged until '93), and 75 unanswered résumé submissions, I had to make more than Unemployment Insurance offered. OK there were only 74 unanswered submissions, but I really dodged a bullet not accepting that one job offer, which is a blog in itself.

My company was AlphaNumerics, a data/writing/computer service. Basically me for hire. It's still registered, and I still have one client.

Back to the commercial.

Here's a transcript:

"Do you have an idea for an invention or new product? Bill Schafer, co-inventor of the Splash Wash did. He came up with the idea while watching his children play. InventHelp submitted his idea to Wham-O®, maker of toys like the Frisbee® and Hula Hoop®. To find out how InventHelp can help you to try to submit your idea to companies, call for free information."

Now if it just stopped there, you might think, "Hey! They helped Bill. I have a great idea. Maybe they can make me rich!" But they close with this last friendly disclaimer, and not at a hundred words a second like so many other ads. And it makes me laugh every time:

"Bill Schafer made a financial gain with his invention. Bill's experience is not typical and most inventions are not successful."

Who would pick up the phone after that buzz kill?

P.S. My favorite Wham-O® product ever is Trac Ball®.


Jamie's Foggy Musings said...

LMAO, this is so stupid. Scot and I just look at each other and roll our eyes when this commercial comes on TV.

melaniet42 said...

Funny, I've thought the same thing after seeing their commercials!

Diane W said...

so much for my portable window screen idea.....

Anonymous said...

Mike: This is the first time I've seen this ad. I'm pretty much a stranger to American television, despite being an American.

That said, the disclaimer that closes the commercial seems like a perfectly acceptable way for the advertiser to cover its corporate ass in the event that some gullible party chooses to sue

Same goes for this bit of text: ... "can help you to try to submit your idea" ... Can? Help? Try? This doesn't sound like the kind of outfit that I'd like to get involved with.

mistik said...

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Mike said...

Jamie - Barb & I do the same thing!

Melanie - What can I say? Great minds. :-)

Diane - let InventHelp show you how unsuccessful you can be!

Anonymous - My favorite part of pharma commercials are the incredible disclaimers. This one was very CYA!

Mistik - How does one say WTF in Turkish?

Geoffrey Welchman said...

At first glance, I thought this was about Marc Maron's podcast . . . woops!

JED said...

Late comer. Just saw this commercial and googled "Bill splash wash", and ended up here. Wanted to know if anyone else noticed the disclaimer. I especially appreciate how 'Bill made a financial gain'. If Bill got to speak for himself, I'm sure he'd have a different word for it.

InventHelp: may cause dizziness, outbursts of anger, loss of rights to IP and in extreme cases vivid dreams become...well, less vivid. Always consult with your attorney before use.

Mike said...

Three letters, my friend: L.O.L.