Tag Archives: Advertising

Jew of the Week: Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Amy Renee Krouse Rosenthal (1965-2017) was born in Chicago and studied at Tufts University. A naturally creative and spiritual person, she described herself simply as “a person who likes to make things”. After working in advertising for nine years, Rosenthal decided to pursue her passion and becoming a writer. She published her first book in 1998 and went on to write 30 more, most of them children’s books. Many were New York Times Bestsellers, and Rosenthal is the only author to have three children’s books on the list of Best Children’s Books for Family Literacy in the same year. Her book Duck! Rabbit! was read publicly at the White House in 2010, and her adult book Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life was named one of the top ten memoirs of the decade. She also published 10 journals and created many short films, several of which went viral. Rosenthal was often seen at TED talks, designing three conferences and speaking at another three. She wrote for a number of newspapers and magazines as well, including Parenting, The Oprah Magazine, and The New York Times. It was in the latter publication that she wrote an essay earlier this month revealing that she had terminal cancer. The essay was written in the style of a dating profile for her husband – with whom she fell in love on the first (blind) date – for him to find a new love once she would inevitably pass away. Sadly, this would be her last creation to go viral. Rosenthal tragically succumbed to her cancer last week.

Words of the Week

Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?
Thornton Wilder (This was Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s favourite quote.)

Jews of the Week: Samuel and Ron Popeil

Salesmen of the Century

Ron Popeil with some of his inventions (Credit: David McNew)

Ron Popeil with some of his inventions (Credit: David McNew)

Samuel Popeil (1915-1984) was born in New York, the son of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. His uncle, Nathan Morris, was a successful salesman and took Popeil on as an apprentice. In 1945, Popeil moved to Chicago to start a kitchen gadgets business with his brother. Soon, Popeil had ideas for better product designs and invented a number of his own kitchen gadgets, including a juice extractor, sandwich pie-maker, and donut maker. Together with his creative marketing and sales pitches, business for Samuel Popeil soared rapidly.

His son, Ronald Popeil (b. 1935) started working in his factory at just 13. By 17, he started his own business selling his father’s gadgets, despite the two having a poor relationship. Ron quickly became a top salesman, making over $500 a day in his late teens. By 1958, he began selling his father’s inventions on television, starting with the “Chop-O-Matic”. With his novel – and now classic – sales pitches (“But wait, there’s more!” and “If you order now…”) the Chop-O-Matic quickly sold over 2 million units. (Click here to see Ron Popeil’s 1959 Chop-O-Matic commercial.) Following this success, Samuel produced the Dial-O-Matic, Whip-O-Matic, Mince-O-Matic, and then its most popular invention, 1963’s Veg-O-Matic, which sold 11 million units. Many more gadgets were made as the company slowly faded away, and was sold and liquidated in 1979. Samuel Popeil died five years later, and Ron’s own company, Ronco Teleproducts, went bankrupt. Ron didn’t stop there, though, and rebuilt the kitchen gadget empire with his own inventions and products, like the Beef Jerky Machine and Giant Dehydrator. Most popular of all was the Showtime Rotisserie and BBQ. Inspired by seeing a long line-up at Costco for rotisserie chicken, Ron spent a great deal of time crafting a small, kitchen-friendly machine, and ended up filing twelve different patents for his unique rotisserie design. His work paid off, with the Showtime Rotisserie bringing in over a billion dollars in sales – primarily through Ron’s 28-minute infomercial – and becoming America’s best-selling kitchen appliance. Ron Popeil would go down as America’s “Salesman of the Century” (also the title of his autobiography). When awarded the 1993 Ig Nobel Prize in Consumer Engineering, Ron was described as having “redefined the industrial revolution”. He has appeared (or been parodied) in countless songs, books, films and TV shows. Ron sold his company for $55 million in 2005 so that he could spend more time with his family, yet still works as an inventor and salesman, never abandoning his passion.

Words of the Week

Achieving life is not the equivalent of avoiding death.
– Ayn Rand