Collette Liantonio, Queen of Infomercials

The woman who brought you the George Foreman Grill and Topsy Tail talks business, family and Pajama Jeans

by Lesley Kennedy • Reporter
Collette Liantonio image
Collette Liantonio has produced more than 2,000 infomercials.
Photograph: Courtesy Creative TV

MORE: Has the economy affected business?
CL: We’re at the opposite of the economy . . . Advertising, in general, did suffer, because it was considered expendable. But our business actually flourished, because, take the Furniture Fix as an example, instead of replacing your sofa in an economy like this, we found a $20 solution, rather than a $200 solution. People repaired their homes instead of trading up. And if you are on a tight budget, you’re not going to buy $200 jeans, you’re going to buy $40 jeans. So, we give really good value, and the consumer responds in times like this . . . Right now we have something on the air called Pedi Spin. It’s the electronic Ped Egg. And, yeah, maybe you don’t have the extra money to go to the salon for a pedicure, but you can do one at home with the Pedi Spin.

MORE: For all the hits, how many misses happen?
CL: Many more misses . . . It’s part of what makes us experts. I have failed many times over the years and I bring that knowledge to the table: things that don’t work. I do try to dissuade people from doing purely safety products, because they aren’t sexy and they just don’t sell. People have said, “Oh, a half hour show, let me sell three different products, one in each act.” That bombs. Everybody has tried that at least once. I’m always excited to try something new, but I like to share with people what I’ve tried that didn’t work.

MORE: What do you think will be the next infomercial sensation?
CL: For years, people said stay away from tech products, but that’s not right . . . And vitamins are huge now . . . They’re selling like crazy. Exercise—I think there will always be another ab product out there, and breasts are very big this year, by the way.

MORE: Your children have worked in the industry too.
CL: All three of my kids have worked for me. My oldest—my son, John—was my West Coast producer for many years. My daughter Eve was my director of finance, but she’s now home with her two boys. And my baby, Collette, who is 25, is actively producing right now for Beach Body. So, the girls at one point both said they were jumping in, my son has said he’s jumping in, but none of them has actually kicked me out yet.

My son, John, was in a commercial years ago that may be the funniest thing I’ve ever done. It was for a product called the Potty Putter—it made the 10 funniest commercials of all time list.

MORE: What advice do you have for women who may want to jump into a new job?
CL: When I started my business, my first husband and I had divorced, I had two small children, and then he died. He was 35 years old, and everything just went from bad to worse. I thought, What’s the worst that could happen? I’m going to try and make a go of this business . . . There were many nightmares, but they were nightmares of my choosing, and that autonomy is so important. I think there’s always an excuse if you don’t want to go out on a limb—people can give good reasons why not to—but you just have to do it sometimes. When young women talk about how they want to do this or that . . . Just do it. That’s the most important thing I can tell anyone. I belong to the Women Presidents’ Organization and I admire all the young women with all the challenges they have. When I listen to them, I remember some of the nightmarish days. You survive on very little sleep. You do without a lot of things. Maybe your nails and hair look like hell. But you feel good about your accomplishment at the end of the day. I think it’s important to have a career in addition to your mommyhood; you need identity.

Click here to learn more about Concepts TV.

Don’t miss out on MORE great articles like this one. Click here to sign up for our weekly newsletter!

Share Your Thoughts!


Post new comment

Click to add a comment