As-Seen-on-TV Phenomenon Jack LaLanne Lives On

Jack LaLanneJack LaLanne, the fitness visionary who died recently at 96, will never again nag us to drink our vegetables. But Jack LaLanne, the brand, will continue to pitch his Power Juicers on long- and short-form infomercials ... indefinitely.

Tristar Products Inc., makers of the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer line, will continue to use jumping Jack in infomercials postmortem and ad infinitum."Jack's family wants us to continue delivering his message of health," Lynda Gentile, Tristar creative director, told Consumer Ally. "We're revamping and looking at different options."

A 90-ish LaLanne appears only for 10 seconds at the end of the Power Juicer's current two-minute infomercial.

"Juicing is the easy way to help change your life," he says.

How long is the shelf life of a fitness star who's shuffled off this mortal coil?

"He could go another five years," says Jeff Meltzer, a director of the Electronic Retailing Association, which represents infomercial companies. "That brand doesn't go away overnight."

He's not wrong. Old pitchmen may die, but they don't quickly fade away.

Almost two years after his cocaine-related death, infomercial host Billy Mays is still talked about in infomercials.

Infomercial immortality can depend on the reputation the pitchman established in life. Meltzer predicts that LaLanne will outlive Mays -- on the air.

"Billy sold a lot of stuff," he says. "Jack was selling a lifestyle. He was an amazing guy who lived and breathed what he preached."

Tristar, however, won't say how, or how long it will use LaLanne to sell the life-changing powers of fresh juice.

When the infomercials change, it will be "at the discretion of those in marketing and the family," Gentile says.

Meltzer interprets that non-answer to mean, "They don't know."

Tristar executives probably weren't "ready" for LaLanne's death, he says. "The infomercial world is odd. LaLanne was in great shape mentally and physically. You never think a guy like that would get sick."

LaLanne died of complications due to pneumonia on Jan. 23.

LaLanne became famous in 1951 as a television "physical culture expert" who led housewives to tighter thighs during his daily exercise show. Well into his 90s, LaLanne still admonished the world to eat healthy and exercise daily.

"I guarantee they will roll him out," Meltzer says. "Even though Jack is deceased, you would expect to see his likeness, maybe from one of the early shows. You get a warm, fuzzy feeling about Jack LaLanne."

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