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The Making of Sham, Wow!
Guest Editorial by Golden Krishna

There are rare moments in life when you, if fortunate enough, have the opportunity to do work that is part of something much greater. A week ago I sat in a conference room with a few of my co-workers listening to Vince, a salesman from our client, introduce us to his company’s new product. When Vince revealed his market analysis — “you’re going to spend $20 a month on paper towels” — my co-worker Chris looked over and gave me a special kind of look. It was the kind of look that said, “this is the next iPod.” What Vince was showing us wasn’t an innovation in interactivity, but a new kind of paper towel. I mean, it was a paper towel, but it wasn’t a paper towel. It was for the house, the car… it was something greater, and Vince came to our agency to sell it.

I’ve spent the last week sleepless. We’ve been making sketches in the office since the moment Vince left. I’ve gone through about 200 sheets of tracing paper and countless ideas; Chris has done so much drawing he’s seeing a doctor next week about his wrist.

Amy, one of our art directors, just got off the phone with Graphis, and Jose, our Creative Director, just left a message over at BusinessWeek. The feeling around here is that we’ve really nailed something big, and from what I hear, some blogs have already started posting about our ad campaign.

An ad, an identity, and a website. That was the simple trio Vince requested and that we have racked our brains over for the past week.

The identity: 324 iterations until we came up with one that just sorta clicked. We wanted the logo to speak to a new generation of consumers, so we took a well-crafted, popular comic book sans serif and applied a sort of squeeze to it, referencing the product’s impressive ability to soak in liquid. Are you following me camera guy? I think the real genius came when Amy suggested that I add an exclamation point to the logo. At a certain moment it just fell into place: I dropped back in my chair, and I literally said: “Wow.”

I was also involved in the development of the product’s online presence. To build the website, we applied two “complementary” colors — blue and orange — to a tightly constructed grid. So many minor moves turned out to be home runs. For example, the buttons on the left felt like they were floating until I gave each one a thick, white stroke and drew a white line behind them circling the composition… that was huge. The website is cutting edge.

All in all, a tremendous success.

Golden Krishna is an up and coming graphic designer studying at CalArts. He also holds a B.A. (in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics) from Pitzer College, has run several marathons and likes puppies.

Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
ENTRY DETAILS
ARCHIVE ID 4870 FILED UNDER Show and Tell
PUBLISHED ON Jun.03.2008 BY Speak Up
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
Mike Garrett’s comment is:

Are you serious?
Please tell me this is a joke.

On Jun.03.2008 at 09:31 AM
JonSel’s comment is:

Hilarious! I think the ad would have failed if the spokesperson wasn't wearing the headset stage mic.

When it comes down to it, you have to figure that even the most horrible graphics have rationalization behind them that someone had to actually believe in. Sad, but true.

I wonder what the imitators are called. ShamRocks? ShamGoodEnough? It's-A-Sham?

On Jun.03.2008 at 10:02 AM
Ampersanderson’s comment is:

It needs a little prayer...

On Jun.03.2008 at 10:03 AM
Mike’s comment is:

I love virtual dead-pan humor.

On Jun.03.2008 at 10:16 AM
Anonymous’s comment is:

This isn't done very well. The humor/write-up needs to be believable by not smacking people over the head. And the graphics, especially the logo are too "jokey". I would have loved to have seen this done super polished, like John Bielenberg's annual report for a fake corporation done back in the 1990's.

On Jun.03.2008 at 11:33 AM
JonSel’s comment is:

And the graphics, especially the logo are too "jokey".

This is where the humor comes in...it's a real product, not a parody. I've seen the commercials on TV.

On Jun.03.2008 at 11:35 AM
Paul Riehle’s comment is:

Who the hell spends 20 dollars a month on paper towels?

On Jun.03.2008 at 12:07 PM
Doug Bartow’s comment is:

Who the hell spends 20 dollars a month on paper towels?

That's high (but not astronomical) if you have kids.

On Jun.03.2008 at 12:24 PM
Rin’s comment is:

You are a cheeky one, G.

On Jun.03.2008 at 12:56 PM
Sheli’s comment is:

oh, golden.

On Jun.03.2008 at 12:59 PM
brad’s comment is:

"And....If you call right now...we'll send you a bonus set of ShamWow! diapers!"

On Jun.03.2008 at 02:15 PM
Adam Okrasinski’s comment is:

I have been seeing Zorbeez in my local drugstore for a while now, and I had a similar fantasy of being in the conference room when this product was pitched.

Has heavy-handed as this spoof is, is surprisingly less terrible than the actual website:

https://www.zorbeez.com/?cid=315321

On Jun.03.2008 at 02:41 PM
Jason A. Tselentis’s comment is:

I have added the author, Golden Krshna to my Linkedin network. Sweet...

On Jun.03.2008 at 08:09 PM
Young Mr. Arvizu’s comment is:

ah, great. Sarcasm at it's pious and condescending peak, this kind of critical analysis/ i could do without.

Maybe I'm just not jovial enough to extract the humor from this today, but the world has enough arrogance and dog-biting without this kind of patronizing commentary having to seep into speak-up.

You have contempt for the bad creative behind the infomercial product, i get it, who wouldn't?

I think what really gets to me is that I just wasn't expecting the entire post to be made up of implacable mockery. About half way through as it became transparent, I began hoping for some kind of genuine pay-off. A lesson or something to take away from the words, some insight into what really led up to your show and tell. I kept waiting for some kind of, "But seriously, the reason I'm writing like this is because..." Is this a spoof? Is it just a commentary? In the end, who can know because there was nothing.

It seems to me that what we are left with is just someone's opinion wrapped up and delivered in hard sarcasm. And sadly that opinion is rendered inane because of it. That disappointed me, sarcasm isn't all bad unless it's all sarcasm.

On Jun.03.2008 at 08:30 PM
Kevin M. Scarbrough’s comment is:

Very amusing!

On Jun.03.2008 at 11:43 PM
Laura E’s comment is:

Despite the fact that I did slightly enjoy the "a-ha" moment of the website link, I have to agree with Arvizu's comment.

I'm a grad student in graphic design, and frankly, I'm tired of our arrogance and how we're learning to tear everything apart. Critiques seem to go in circles, other times design-by-committee rears it's head, or worse... you just do what the professor suggested because you don't care anymore.

I'm ready to see people who are putting something together (a design solution, for instance) and standing by it.

On Jun.04.2008 at 01:17 AM
Tom’s comment is:

These days everyone's a critic about everything with the advent of the blogosphere, it's not just designers. SpeakUp has a good mix of tearing things apart, as well as standing by good design.

You may be tired of arrogance in grad school because you're surrounded by designers, most of whom may not even be intelligent or talented enough to pursue a career in the arts. Don't worry, in the real world it's not so bad.

On Jun.04.2008 at 12:40 PM
Katie’s comment is:

Don't worry, in the real world it's not so bad.

Yes, it is, Tom.

On Jun.04.2008 at 01:40 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> the world has enough arrogance and dog-biting without this kind of patronizing commentary having to seep into speak-up.

Arvizu, I don't think the post is meant to be patronizing to the design of ShamWow. It's evidently obvious that the design is bad, I don't think it needs to be made fun of.

Where Golden's write-up becomes interesting, at least to me, is that it takes the language and attitude of the infomercial for a crappy product and uses that to describe the design process, with the same inflated "facts" and subjective adjectives that the guy from ShamWow uses. That's where the funny lies.

Then again, I'm a sucker for sarcasm, so who knows.

On Jun.04.2008 at 08:32 PM
Ron Kelman’s comment is:

When I read this I imagined it as a graphic designer in industry, writing sarcastically about a real project he was forced to design— in a tacky way to satisfy a client. It reminded me of one of the highlights of my career as a graphic designer, when I was hand picked by the design director to design the yellow pages for Waste Age Magazine and forced to use a combination of Sans and Papyrus. It was printed in Orange and Red ink.

On Jun.05.2008 at 06:29 AM
Monica Yi’s comment is:

The visual language of Shamwow! is tied to the past when technology could be used to make gradients, wacky type, and simple motion graphics. It was all new, when AOL was at it's height, and internet users could make their own DIY webpages. Many infomercials of the past and present still share that common "style."

The same could could be said for a Cialis commercial or any number of corporate business brands/identities. It is not uncommon to see a commercial for a new pill with a logo using a sans serif, all caps, badly kerned type (i.e. Viagra, Levitra, Zenerex...).

The only real design difference between Shamwow! and Viagra is a marketing budget.

We should be thankful for the people who made Shamwow! a possibility. Its particular vernacular has inspired many contemporary designers and even television shows...

Here's a clip from a t.v. show called "Tim & Eric's Awesome Show Great Job!" http://youtube.com/watch?v=qKA3B-eBIAE&feature=related which runs on Cartoon Network exhibiting that unmistakable Shamwow! charm.

On Jun.05.2008 at 07:30 AM
brad’s comment is:

"The only real design difference between Shamwow! and Viagra is a marketing budget."

If you have enough freaking money to buy all that air time for TV spots, you have plenty of money to get a good designer....

On Jun.05.2008 at 10:12 AM
diane zerr’s comment is:

Brad: Good point.

But unfortunately many people do not understand the importance of good design or the impact that it could have on the success of their idea. They think their dollars will be more well spent in advertising and on air time rather than on a silly logo that their 15-year old could do in Word.

But at the same time not all products can have the budgets and importance of Coca-cola or Pepsi. They just want to get their product out into the market and not put much though into the image they are projecting.

It's a shame, but it's the hard truth.

On Jun.05.2008 at 02:24 PM
Jason Tselentis’s comment is:

I for one, love this post, and have made it my Firefox Start Page (seriously).

On Jun.10.2008 at 09:32 AM
Donald Rush’s comment is:

WoW! I was so confused. I really was shocked at how horrible the design was. This is my first time to this blog. I was referred by a top 50 design blog list. So I was expecting to see something amazing. When I went to the comments I thought I would find people either being kind and not saying how horrible it was or the typical ridicule. I was happy to see this was a joke.
Great post.
You got to hate it for the guy that actually did the work. It's probably some kid in school that was so excited to get a national job with so much exposure.Little did he know he would be ridiculed by his peers.

On Jun.12.2008 at 12:35 PM
Abe’s comment is:

this forum should be changed to lighten up? it's a joke and we need not take things so seriously.

perhaps they should have applied the Make My Logo Bigger Cream and everyone would be happy?

http://makemylogobiggercream.com/

On Jun.12.2008 at 05:50 PM
Mark’s comment is:

You quys ripped me off in so many ways... In 2001 a wrote, produced and directed a short film "ARE YOU IN?" starring Vince Libretti. This film was the opening film at the San Francisco indie film festival. It stars VINCE, who wears black glasses, unkept blondish spiked hair, and through the entire film speaks ( in the same New York accent) into the exact style headset that is used in your commercial. Your actor is an exact clone of Vince LIbretti, right down to the Brooklyn accent. Vince later claim to fame was that he was a finalist on "PROJECT RUNNWAY" about two years ago . WHy didn't you just hire Vince Libretti?

On Jun.14.2008 at 05:45 PM
Mark’s comment is:

You quys ripped me off in so many ways... In 2001 a wrote, produced and directed a short film "ARE YOU IN?" starring Vince Libretti. This film was the opening film at the San Francisco indie film festival. It stars VINCE, who wears black glasses, unkept blondish spiked hair, and through the entire film speaks ( in the same New York accent) into the exact style headset that is used in your commercial. Your actor is an exact clone of Vince LIbretti, right down to the Brooklyn accent. Vince later claim to fame was that he was a finalist on "PROJECT RUNNWAY" about two years ago . WHy didn't you just hire Vince Libretti?

On Jun.14.2008 at 05:47 PM
Lorin B’s comment is:

im sorry mark, what are you talking about?

twice.

On Jun.15.2008 at 11:38 PM
jkd’s comment is:

The designer is rocking on your dime. Get it? Cuz I'm rocking on yours.

On Jun.17.2008 at 07:28 PM
Mark’s comment is:

This is what I'm talking about...See Vince without headset

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sr2bdMfL1Lo

On Jun.18.2008 at 07:03 PM
Wildcat’s comment is:

Is this guy for real he needs a car hood to pound his sham on. Are you with me sham wow guy? I never thought there could be any guy more annoying than the oxyclean dude, are they related. what was the company thinking when they picked this weenie. I want to turn the channel, his voice is nausiating. I wonder how much barf a shamwow can absorb. I feel like yaking when I hear his voice. This is worse than the dead hampster they used for Quiznos mascot!!! Get this guy off the air. I wouldn't buy one, if he represents the quality of the company that hired him. SHAMWOW DO I FEEL BETTER NOW!!!

On Jun.22.2008 at 04:37 AM
toofunny’s comment is:

I have been in Sales for 15 years and I cannot believe this Golden guy is really saying that he was so impressed and blown away that he fell back in his chair. This is just another widget. BFD! I think he needs to open a door and look at the whole big amazing world. WOW, I have been to a lot of presentations but you would have to be an idiot not to be insulted by the tacky & cheesy presentation. I don't think it is funny, stupid-funny or interesting in any way. It makes me sick to hear him say "are you with me camera guy" Ah damn, I missed it. Where is my remote, quick. Papertowels can be recycled. Sham wow would be smelling like a wet dog in no time. Sham wow that smells. Wow an actual website about the commercial and the making of it in the board room... where do these people come from East jibip iowa. There is nothing WOW except for the fact that they actually got street testimonials to say Sham WOW. How much did you pay them. This is neither brilliant nor impressive. See the world, experience a few things then your education may serve you. Now you sound like a new telemarketer. You know, it's a multipronged, multilayered solution. A three legged stool.The circle of success.Who moved my cheese? You have been drinking too much Kool-aid. It's like a bad scene in the movie office space. That is if you expect the everyday folk, not fool to take this as seriously as you take yourself. I am soooooooo glad you have this website to post comments. This commercial had been erkking the sh!& out of me since the first time I saw it. And yes, I wrote to Quiznos also and asked them. "What's with the dead rodent" I hope your not serving him up or have him as a pet in the kitchen. Best of luck.

On Jun.22.2008 at 05:30 AM
barry’s comment is:

Santo gold and Ginsu knives aside, this is one pathetic pitch.

Futher testament to the notion that you'll never go broke betting on the stupidity of the American public. I'd love to know what trailer park the sham-wowers were recruited from. And people wonder how Bush still has 28% believing him.

On Jun.22.2008 at 12:52 PM
Eddie’s comment is:

I bought the product.....first of all they said shipping was included.....they charged me for shipping and then sent it C.O.D.
As for the product.....it doesn't work....this is a scam....and they are commintting mail fraud....
Pass the word, call your local attorney general

On Jun.26.2008 at 09:18 AM
vebious’s comment is:

i wanna be vince from shame wow i am his biggest fane i wear a headset everywhere

On Aug.17.2008 at 12:57 AM
Bill’s comment is:

http://www.infomercialratings.com/product/shamwow_reviews

On Aug.17.2008 at 07:25 AM
Christian David Cobbs’s comment is:

I like vince he is not doing anything wrong. I am an actor and he is very entertaining. Billy Mays is great too. So all you idiots out there are telling me that if you had a chance to exadurate on ur product you wouldnt. Lawyers lie doctors lie everyone lies so why are we picking on vince. Most commericals are stupid he is one guy that is entertaining. I will buy the sham wow even if it didnt work thats how entertaining vince it. Peoel that talk crap about him are jelous of him and losers that have now life. se yal later

On Nov.18.2008 at 07:10 PM
Christian David Cobbs’s comment is:

I like vince he is not doing anything wrong. I am an actor and he is very entertaining. Billy Mays is great too. So all you idiots out there are telling me that if you had a chance to exadurate on ur product you wouldnt. Lawyers lie doctors lie everyone lies so why are we picking on vince. Most commericals are stupid he is one guy that is entertaining. I will buy the sham wow even if it didnt work thats how entertaining vince it. Peoel that talk crap about him are jelous of him and losers that have now life. se yal later

On Nov.18.2008 at 07:11 PM
Tim Fairbanks’s comment is:

First of all to match the tone of so many who post...you are all idiots and don't even have real jobs and your Mother...well you know....

Now for the real post:

It is a great commercial and the design fits the product. One is expecting a Porche design?

For those who need reviews check out the Chicago Tribune's article: http://www.chicagotribune.com/topic/kdaf-060308-coc-shamwow,0,1922374.story

If you can't beat them don't knock on them. Great product, great commercial and yes .mp3's existed before iPods but we know who won that game.

:)

On Nov.26.2008 at 12:55 AM
turd ferguson’s comment is:

I was gonna leave a comment but I've spent most of my time reading these and now I gotta go "cuz we can't do this all day"

On Dec.07.2008 at 01:19 PM
Johnna Michelle Harron ’s comment is:

Vice Rocks!

I love this guy....Much better than Billy Mays.
Go Vince Go!

On Dec.29.2008 at 10:44 AM
Robert Stober’s comment is:

I just saw the new commercial with Vince singing the praises of his "Speedy Chopper" or whatever the hell it is. Ridiculous! He even states "You'll love my nuts" as he chops the s#!t out of some helpless filberts. As long as Vince keeps selling crappy kitchen junk, he'll have a place in America's heart. Just don't start selling colon cleaner products...please! If Vince teams up with Klee Irwin and Billy Mays, we're all doomed!

On Jan.05.2009 at 01:02 AM
mrsr’s comment is:

Well obviously this company is doing something right! All of you, and half the rest of the world can remember the product and the name of the salesman. That's good advertising in my opinion!
I think this Vince guy would make a good talk show host.

On Mar.27.2009 at 11:29 AM
dave lavier’s comment is:

dear sham wow there is a company going in walmarts and selling your clothe claming that when it gets to stores it will be sold under the sham wow name but right now its being sold under another name ..if u would like this other name and more info contact me at the address or look me up on facebook

On Mar.27.2009 at 08:54 PM
ShamWow Guy’s comment is:

No amount of shamwows can soak up all of tha shame….
check out ShamWow Guy Photoshop Contenst to express your opinions on our boy Vince creatively!

On Mar.31.2009 at 10:19 AM