The Ginsu® Years

In 1975, a young, ambitious broadcasting executive for an NBC affiliate (Ed Valenti) and an enterprising, young AAMCO Transmission Shop entrepreneur (Barry Becher) put their heads together, teamed up and forever changed the way products are marketed on television. Theirs was a partnership that would achieve incredible monetary success, usher in the new era of marketing and communications and revolutionize the direct response industry and the way products are sold on television-forever!

In the beginning...

The product had sat collecting dust on retail stores shelves for years. The idea evolved when Barry was faced with the tedious chore of painting his ceiling. While looking for a quick, easy method to do this, he discovered a paint pad with densely packed mohair bristles which prevented splatter. Barry tried the product at home and discovered that it allowed him to paint his ceiling in "half the time of a paint brush" without the "mess or fuss". After consulting with Ed, the pair dubbed the product "The Miracle Painter®" and decided to go into business together by selling it on television! After facing continued rejection from ad agencies up and down Madison Avenue, Becher and Valenti decided to follow their dream of offering a product for sale on televisions across America, on their own. The challenge was getting a 20-25 minute demonstration into a 2 minute commercial. To get consumers attention and demonstrate the product's main benefit, Ed and Barry opened their commercial with a man in a tuxedo painting his ceiling and the immortal question: "why is this man painting a ceiling in a tuxedo? Because he's using the amazing new Miracle Painter® ..." The pair wrote and produced the commercial themselves. Becher and Valenti met with instant success! In fact, The Miracle Painter® sold over 1 million units at $9.95 each in its first year. In fact, demand for the product was so great, Ed and Barry needed to lease 747's in England, where the product was manufactured, and fill them up with Miracle Painters® just to keep up with weekly orders!

What a country!

As a result of the enormous reaction to their ads, Dial Media (Ed and Barry's direct marketing company) was opened in 1976 and proceeded to develop other multi-million selling and equally "Miraculous" products including; the Miracle Slicer®, the Miracle Duster®, Claudette Louberge Hosiery®, Royal Durasteel®,  Vacufresh®, The "Chainge" Adjustable Necklace®, Lusterware Flatware®, Armourcote Cookware® and of course, the legendary Ginsu Knives®.

The new Office

Thanks to the tremendous success of these products, "Ed and Barry Inc." went from being a part-time operation run out of Barry's garage to being one of the largest buyers of spot tv in the country, with over 150 employees and 20-30 products on the air in just about every market in the country at any given time (with Ed and Barry spending $5 million of their own money every quarter on ads all over America-an amount that ranked them just ahead of Coca-Cola and right behind AT&T on the list of America's top ad spenders in national "spot" T.V. markets!).

Total sales for the enterprising duo's products, over a ten year period, were over 500 Million Dollars!

Secrets of Success

Why was Ed and Barry's method of direct response advertising so successful? Their outrageous, extraordinary, and oftentimes comical commercials were a major contributor to that success, although that was far from being the only reason. The times chosen to run the ads, the research that went into the creating of ads and choosing the stations and programs, the use of toll free "800" numbers, the accepting of credit card orders and the daily and weekly result analysis and invoice reconciliation methods were all revolutionary direct marketing techniques, pioneered and established by Ed and Barry.

What's more , their unique style of product presentation and demonstration and "insider's knowledge" of media buying techniques and strategies not only made them very successful, it made them profitable beyond their wildest dreams and known throughout the world. In fact, many of their colorful, "catch phrases" ("But wait, there's more", "Isn't that amazing", "Now how much would you pay?" Don't answer!", "Act now and you'll also receive...", "It'll slice onions so fast that there isn't time to cry," etc.) are still remembered, used, and parodied today.

A Cut Above

Most of the products developed by Ed and Barry and marketed by Dial Media were incredibly successful, but only one has transcended its own success and evolved into a genuine Cultural Icon: the most memorable product ever promoted on T.V., Ginsu® Knives! After all, how many direct marketing products do you know of that celebrities ask for by name? Ed and Barry took orders for Ginsu® from thousands of stars...everyone from actors, Raquel Welch and John Wayne to comedian, Rob Riener. And speaking of comedians, it is largely thanks to them that Ginsu® to this day (over twenty years after the commercials last aired) is one of the most mentioned and well known products in history. Gallagher made a career out of mimicking the commercial's antics, Jerry Seinfeld recently did a routine on Ginsu® on Jay Leno the night of his show’s last episode, Johnny Carson used it as a standing part of his nightly routine for years, Joe Piscopo, John Belushi, Phil Hartman and Dan Akroyd all incorporated Ginsu® into skits on “Saturday Night Live,” Tony Soprano often mentions Ginsu® when seated at the “family” dinner table on the HBO series “The Sopranos,” and the comic strip, “The Wizard of Id” and The New Yorker Magazine cartoons routinely featured Ginsu® references. Mentions in movies such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Sleepless in Seattle and Scrooged with Bill Murray, as well as television sitcoms, are simply too numerous to mention. In addition, Ed, Barry, Ginsu® and their other TV products have recently been featured in numerous documentaries on national television networks ranging from, ABC (Chronicle) and The History Channel to The Discovery Channel and The Arts and Entertainment (A&E) Network and VH 1’s “Pop Up Videos” and MTV’s “I love the 70’s.”

The Legend Lives On

In fact, it is clear that Ed and Barry's creation, the Ginsu® knife has become a worldwide household name; a cultural icon currently being considered for enshrinement in the Smithsonian. Why? Maybe it was the catchy yet totally fabricated, Japanese sounding name or the impossible to ignore ads or the colorful, rapid fire copy; Or perhaps, it was the incredible versatility, sharpness and durability of the knife itself! Whatever the reason, one thing is certain: people remember Ginsu®-the kitchen cutting tool that can "cut through a nail, a tin can and a radiator hose and still slice a tomato paper thin". Alas, even the world's greatest legends are not completely immune from the harsh light of reality: which is why it probably won't surprise you to learn that Ginsu®, the most famous "Japanese" product ever sold, was really manufactured in Freemont, Ohio by the Quikut Division of Scott & Fetzer. Today, Ed and Barry's former company is owned by Wall Street wizard Warren Buffet, one of the wealthiest and most successful men in America.

The "Ginsu® Guys" Today

Hitting it big even once in America’s competitive business environment is an extraordinary feat … doing it twice is almost unheard of. Yet, today Ed and Barry are the co-founders and owners of one of America’s most successful media buying and marketing firms, PriMedia Inc. Combining a unique “virtual agency” structure that delivers top quality media and marketing services to clients at a much lower cost than more traditional firms, with the vast knowledge and pioneering experiences of their Ginsu® days, the pair have successfully helped clients like Xerox, Air Canada, Collette Vacations, Dairy Mart, New England Electric, APC (American Power Conversion), IMAX, Blimpie, Boston Acoustics, Stannah Stairlifts, RE/MAX, Astra Zeneca, Merck, Legal Sea Foods, Citadel Communications and Sylvan Learning Centers, and many more save millions of dollars through more efficient, targeted media buying and generate millions more in sales through award winning direct marketing programs (television, radio, outdoor, direct mail, newspaper, magazines and integrated multi-media).

In addition, The Ginsu Guys have authored a remarkably entertaining (and educational) book called The Wisdom of Ginsu ( Career Press) and completed a successful national book tour. To order an autographed edition of "The Ginsu Guys" entertaining (and educational) book, The Wisdom Of Ginsu, or one of 3 great sets of "new and improved" Ginsu Knives ( ranging from $19.99 to $49.99 in price), or find out how to contact the speaker's bureau that represents Ed to book him for a speaking engagement, simply follow this link: www.ginsuguys.com and choose the appropriate menu item on the left-hand side of the "GinsuGuys" home page.

If your company would like to team up with the "Ginsu® Guys" in order to "hone" your media and marketing efforts and "sharpen"your competitive "edge", call us at (401)826-3600 to arrange a meeting with Ed, Barry and /or Jim Cooney, our President. They will be happy to show you why PriMedia is "a cut above" other media buying or direct marketing services firms, and discuss the many ways we can help you...and your company... save money and successfully sell more products.


See the Video

Direct Marketing Pioneers Ed Valenti and Barry Becher, "The Ginsu® Guys", helped shape a multi-billion dollar industry. Now these innovative entrepreneurs are putting their direct response expertise and "Midas Touch" to work for clients like you!

You can view a nine-minute compilation video that consists of Ginsu references in the media and movies, and parts of several national documentaries featuring "The Ginsu® Guys" and their work. (Requires Adobe Flash Player - broadband connection is recommended)

Click here for the video!