April 30, 2016
It would be unCanadian of me not to mark the passing of Phil Kives of K-Tel fame
But wait! There’s more! (The Winnipeg Free Press has a selection of commercials, too…)
Kives produced a live, five-minute TV commercial — the first infomercial, he claimed — to sell a Teflon non-stick frying pan, and sales took off afterwards. From then on he always wrote and directed all the TV commercials.
Kives said his greatest success was selling 28 million Miracle Brushes in the late 1960s, while Hooked on Classics, with more than 10 million copies sold, was his top-selling album. (…)
“I used to buy products from Seymour Popeil. That’s Ron Popeil’s father, of Ronco. Ron is a good salesman, but his dad made everything. He said to me, ‘Philip, you’re getting too big. I’m not selling you anything anymore.’ So I went off on my own.
“In the winter of 1966, we released the first record, 25 Country Hits. I didn’t look upon it as a long-term deal. I looked upon it as a one-time product. But after 25 Polka Greats, which sold around a million-and-a-half copies in the United States alone, I thought maybe we were on to something. Record companies in those days didn’t know what compilation albums were. They had vast catalogues of music they didn’t know what to do with.
“We grew into a big company, and it was very difficult for me to control it. We went bankrupt. We went into oil and gas and real estate. Then the bottom fell out of real estate in the United States.”
PS: It’s weird to think that this unhip Jewish guy in Winnipeg thought up compilation albums before hip NY Jewish guy Lenny Kaye…