Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tired of That Annoying Old Ring?


Most of us can agree that life is not easy. However the initial "before" vignettes of infomercials laying out the problems the featured product would solve would have you believe that life is a complete and total nightmare. It's an endless monochromatic purgatory where you're fat and sick; your home, children, and pets are unacceptably filthy and smell; everything costs too much; there's never enough time to cook a healthy, delicious, dinner; and attempting even the simplest of tasks ends in humiliating disaster. At least, before you order the advertised product.

Now I'd like to think we're all savvy enough to realize that there is some exaggeration and puffery going on in these ads and that we shouldn't take them at face value. Still, sometimes the products do come off as pretty awesome and it's tempting to assume they would work just as effectively and as perfectly in our homes as they do in a controlled sound stage being utilized by a trained salesman. I watch that "Slap Chop" video now and it's still amazing how Vince can make it seem like how one cheap plastic chopping utensil will radically transform your life (plus he just throws in the fucking Graty absolutely free!).

No amount of infomercial magic however can spin the utter uselessness of the Jingle Ring. Even as an easily impressionable preadolescent watching this ad in the early 90s, I thought it was ridiculous. Say what you want about As Seen On TV products, at least they claim to tackle common everyday problems most people can relate to. The Jingle Ring attempts to eliminate an issue that about 99.9% of the population couldn't careless about: extreme displeasure with the telephone ring. Has anyone ever found themselves so tired and annoyed with their home telephone ring that, like the lady in the commercial, they find themselves THROWING THEIR PHONE OUT THE WINDOW in abject frustration? Who can relate to this scene? Paranoid schizophrenics? Shell shocked trauma victims? Someone on bath salts?

After having established this all too common affliction of modern living, the Jingle Ring provides a solution that manages to be a hundred times worse. Using "microchip" technology it converts your phone ring into one of a whopping eight pre-recorded jingles, which all come off as way more annoying than a standard phone ring. If providing irritating novelty jingles wasn't bad enough, the Jingle Ring does it in a relatively cumbersome method; to bypass the regular ring you have to run it through this additional device that's about half the size of the phone itself which is there solely to make a different ring.

The family in the spot, who have apparently purchased multiple Jingle Rings to fit everyone member's eclectic taste from classical parody loving dad to Andrew Sisters fan Mom, to the kids with their modern love of cow sounds and "rap" (there has to be at least one hip hop artist out there who can use this for a hyper esoteric sample track); dramatize just how wonderful life can be in a Jingle Ring household. Every call, whether it be from Aunt Margo or the coroner's office, is a smiling occasion for pure joy. What I never quite understood was if they liked the new rings so much, why didn't they just let it ring for as long as possible before picking it up? Or even picking it up at all? The father clearly didn't care to pick up the phone when it had the old ring (which actually would have made prolonged the terrible ringing).

When I recently rediscovered the old Jingle Ring I assumed that such an objectively worthless product would have, along with the commercial, long since faded out into obscurity. With the contemporary obsolescence of the home phone line, the Jingle Ring would somehow manage to be even even more worthless nowadays. However, like some kind of living fossil, brand new Jingle Rings are shockingly available on Amazon (at least the price went down from the original $19.99); I can only assume that there's some poor guy out there with a warehouse full of these, desperately waiting by his Jingle Ring enabled phone, waiting for the moo of a potential new order. So if you or someone you know is trapped in the living hell of conventional land line phone rings, your prayers have been answered.

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