Thursday, March 30, 2006

John Basedow is a Marketing Genius

If you watch any amount of cable television at all, you know who John Basedow is.* He's the "celebrity fitness" guy who is all over basic cable networks with commercials hawking exercise videos. He's been around for a while, but I've noticed that recently (that is, up to maybe a year ago) he's really truly stepped it up. New bits in his commercials (I don't think he's actually done a full-scale infomercial yet) are:

- an annoying yet mildly catchy "theme song"
- a new icon/logo for his "Fitness Made Simple" programs
- new spokespeople ("it worked for me!")
- live appearances ("You too can meet John Basedow in person!")

But what really sets his new commercials apart -- and why I think he's such a marketing genius -- is the substance of some of his latest commercials. (All quotes from the commercials are paraphrased from memory.)

"I've lost weight using the program," one woman gushes, "and now I have even higher goals, because I know I can do anything." Basedow responds, "Because that is what it's all about, isn't it? Once you take control of your body, you take control of your life."

Indeed, his website proclaims: "Anything is possible once you believe in yourself and have the knowledge and determination to accomplish your goals."

This, my friends, is absolute genius. This is John Basedow latching on to the obnoxious popularity of self-help claptrap which has reached fever pitch under people like Dr. Phil. Basedow goes beyond just talking about losing weight and looking good. The physical body is now just an outward manifestation of something else for him (and therefore, for you). Focus on that, and you treat a deeper, psychological yearning which will affect the rest of your life as well.

Lose weight, and you'll be able to get a better job! Lose weight, and you'll get a raise! Lose weight, and suddenly you'll be able to speak four new languages! Lose weight, and master integral calculus!

Those other commercials -- for diet pills (like the one with that "new doctor") and even for Jenny Craig (starring Kirstie Alley) -- no longer hold a candle to John Basedow. Those commercials are so superficial. There's no chicken soup for the soul; all they do is pander to your outer looks. Basedow wants you to set your goals beyond your physical body.

Basedow cares.

"You definitely care. . . . You obviously care about helping as many people as you can at any point in time," another woman tells him in a commercial.

Because, of course, Basedow isn't trying make money. Hellz no! He cares. His goal is to make people feel good. The profit he makes off of selling these exercise regimens? Gravy, pure and simple.

Me, I think the lady must have misspoken. I think instead of saying Basedow wanted to help as many people as he can, she actually meant to say he cares about selling his product to as many people as possible. I know, there's a lot of verbal ledgerdemain involved in his slip of the tongue, but she apparently slipped up quite badly. You should hear her when she wants to order a Caesar salad and instead accidentally asks for a bacon double cheeseburger with the works and a side order of chili cheese fries.

There's a strange Richard Simmons-esque quality to Basedow's new advertising regime. Poor dear, both Richard and John tell their overweight viewers. It's not your fault. But if you get motivated, you can lose weight and love yourself again! And with that self-love, you can set new goals for yourself. I'm going to teach you how. Because I care.

(Richard Simmons was, of course, much, MUCH gayer about it.)

Even Basedow's theme song hints at this theme:

Here's John Basedow
He's gonna show you how
To reach your potential
And turn your whole life around!

Note the complete lack of anything referring to getting in shape. There's nothing in there about losing weight. Weight loss is a secondary by-product of the "reaching your potential" goal. If you knew nothing about Basedow and heard that song, you might think he was some sort of inspirational speaker, sort of like a present-day Norman Vincent Peale.

So, if I were wearing a hat, I'd take it off to John Basedow. Marketing genius, that one. I won't be buying his product, but I'm sure he's managed to get a huge number of the sheep of this country to go ahead and do just that. Dr. Phil would be proud too.

* I would link to him, but I don't want to drive any traffic to his site. Frankly, I think he's kind of freaky. And, for a "fitness celebrity," he's kind of ugly. But I will admit, some of "success stories" on his website are kinda hot. One guy, Jason, looks good, but then again, the idiocy of it all is, he looked good in his "before" picture too!


Kenneth M. Walsh said...

What is up with that dude's hair? He went from quasi-normal brown to some highlights to looking like he's all gray now.

Do the workout tapes come with a home frosting kit?

Jon said...

John Basedow resembles a mannequin from the early 80s, with a bad, BAD hairstyle.

I'm not entirely sure he's a person, he has CYBORG written all over him.....

kat said...

god, every time i see john basedow i get this irresistible urge to jam forks into my eyeballs.

Sub Girl said...

john basedow truly frightens me.

Will said...

actually, kat, i get the urge to jam forks into HIS eyeballs. that man gives me bad dreams.

Dennis! said...

I see that I am not alone in my dislike of Mr. Basedow. However, I do still think his marketing ploy is spot on.

Dop said...

I think his body is ugly. And that 1/4 pose he stands in all the time? Annoying. Something tells me he wears a diaper.

kat said...

wears a diaper! ha!

Ryan said...

Yeah, I don't think that guy is probably responsible for those Trimspa commercials.

Remember? "Like my body? Trimspa, baby. You could win a Viper!"

That commerical always put a smile on my face. It's just funny. :)