Foreman set to clean house

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George Foreman is going from the electric frying pan into the fiery competition of the $2 billion-plus household cleaning aisle.

Mr. Foreman is licensing his name to startup Knockout Group, which is trying to connect with a hook to virtually every recent trend in household and personal care products.

Its celebrity-branded, George Foreman Knockout system of environmentally friendly cleaning line will be launched initially via direct-response TV.

taste test

The four-item line of spray cleaners, priced in line with existing brands and bearing the likeness of the boxing grillmaster, is so environmentally safe that Chief Marketing Officer Paul Vincent will drink the occasional swig himself to convince the skeptical.

The line includes a thyme-based disinfectant that Mr. Vincent said is the first approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use on food-contact surfaces, as well as all-purpose, bathroom and window cleaning varieties.

Knockout will primarily be positioned for its cleaning punch, not safety, Mr. Vincent said. The products use an encapsulation technology to provide lasting cleaning power.

The line launches next month via a 30-minute direct-response infomercial featuring the ex-boxer from Hawthorne Direct, Fairfield, Iowa, Mr. Vincent said.

A retail launch follows in September, backed by 30- two and one minute direct-response spots, magazine ads and a public-relations effort fronted by Mr. Foreman.

The grill already has established Mr. Foreman's power as pitchman. Salton's electric tabletop grill languished for years until the company signed Mr. Foreman in 1994.

It became a $375 million business and one of the first widely accepted crossovers from direct-response to retail distribution, said Jake Weisbarth, president of Beverly Hills, Calif., direct-response consulting firm Content=Commerce.

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