In the world of info-hair, Cher threatens to quit her Lori Davis gig to help Armenia while Ron Popeil returns to spray the word." data-categories = "" data-popup = "" data-ads = "Yes" data-company = "[]" data-outstream = "yes" data-auth = "" >

ADWEEK CRITIQUE : SAVING SCALPS By BARBARA LIPPER

In the world of info-hair, Cher threatens to quit her Lori Davis gig to help Armenia while Ron Popeil returns to spray the word.

After a wildly successful infomercial bender, Cher seems to be in infomercial recovery, plotting some serious career integrity repair work. On her recent three-day mercy mission to Armenia (the troubled homeland where photo opportunities knock), she wore leather overalls and a bandana on her head, distributed Glitter Beach Barbie dolls to orphans, and, later, in her darkened hotel room, confessed to a People magazine reporter, ‘I think I kind of lost my way. . . . I’ve sold my soul in a way. . . . I just don’t want to be a businesswoman who does infomercials anymore. It doesn’t feel good.’
Cher, with all you’ve done for Lori Davis Hair Care (previously-available-only-to-Hollywood’s-biggest-names-and-now-the-fastest -growing-hair-care-company-in-America), how could you? Then again, perhaps somebody finally sent in a deprogrammer. In the latest Cher/Lori Davis infomercial (‘Focus on Beauty 3’), Cher does seem heavily medicated. She keeps repeating, ‘That’s amazing!’
But throughout their Lori Davis work, Cher, her blonde-haired sister, Georgianne, and their red-headed friend, Paulette, seem to exist in some parallel hair universe, where women are assiduous nodders and conversations about split ends demand serious attention. The whole by-hair-obsessed, Stepford zeitgeist picks up where women’s advertising left off in the ’60s, except here the gals exclaim over Lori’s six-way pump spray (‘All those things in one product!?’) instead of whiter whites.
But by the third infomercial – Ted Danson pulls a surprise visit in the second, and I expected Cher to scream ‘Man on the floor!’ – the creepy, spying-on-other-women dynamic becomes too much. Lori shows a video of a model using a non-Lori Davis product with alcohol. ‘See girls?’ she says, thrilling to this woman’s hair trouble. ‘She just gave herself some extra split ends!’ Later, Cher looks at a model who’s just used Lori’s spray and says, ‘The volume in that girl’s hair is unbelievable!’ She sounds like an anorexic studying someone’s fabulous leftovers. By her seventh utterance of ‘Pretty amazing!’ Cher does seem to be flipping her wig.
With its pillowy, pastel living room setting (with a little Navajo influence) and all-female chorus, the Lori Davis spots exempifly girl-infomercial culture. For all-boy-infomercial culture, one need look no further than the spot for Ronco Hair Products GLH Formula No. 9, a.k.a. Spray-On Hair. It comes from Ron Popeil, the guy who is probably home dehydrating apricots as you read. He also gave us many of the miracle products parodied in Wayne’s World.
Where the Lori Davis spot sports an intimate TV setting, Spray On Hair goes straight for the screaming, come-on-down atmosphere of game shows. It even features two blonde hostesses, sub-Kathie Lee Gifford types in regulation Ivana hair and earrings, hosting a show called Incredible Inventions. They are chirpy, helpful and tuned into people’s problems. ‘Look at how large Paco’s bald spot is!’ says Nancy Nelson. And even though the beyond-eager audience participants are 98% male, here again Nancy shows her sensitivity by lifting a woman volunteer from the audience, telling her ‘Actually, Betty, your hair is thin all over! We can see right through to your scalp!’
But the belief system does get downright evangelical: This spot gives new meaning to holy roller. (Even the three-consonant name is PTL-like.) The excitement builds until the godhead himself, Ron Popeil, appears. He performs miracles, spraying up a storm. And then, the fateful moment comes when, yes, his worshipers get to watch Ron spray the back of his own head. And doesn’t even set it on fire. As Cher would say, pretty amazing!
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)


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