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This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Ronco, the company Ron Popeil, “father of the infomercial” founded. Tele-savvy Popeil of course, is the man behind such items as the Veg-O-Matic, the Pocket Fisherman, the Food Hydrator, and the enduringly popular, Showtime Rotisserie & BBQ. Three years ago, Popeil, who has coined numerous catch phrases (“Just set it and forget it” among them) announced that he had sold Ronco to a Denver-based holding company for $55 million. Now, having reached the half-century mark, the company recently announced new ownership and a new name: Ronco Acquisition Company headed by Larry Nusbaum. At 72, Popeil will take on more of a consulting role with the firm.

The challenge moving forward is to drive future growth from a brand that is greatly wedded to its founder Popeil, even as he fades further into the background. The plan, according to Nusbaum, is to introduce new products (Chef-N-Go, Microwave Grill) while innovating and reintroducing classic products such as the Dial-o-Matic and the GLH-9 (hair coloring products for men). Rather than rely heavily on the infomercial for sales, products under the new Ronco are going to be sold largely in retail outlets (the company will begin to branch out to distribution channels in Canada and Europe as well). By revamping and reviving Ronco best sellers, the company hopes to trade on its lasting iconic popularity while hooking a new generation of consumers. To be successful, Ronco needs to transform a living brand into one that can live with out its brand meister. As Popeil himself might say: But Wait, There’s More…

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