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OTHER ITA SITES:
What's With Those Infomercials?
Right about the time the infomercials were really starting to dominate late-night television, I was attending underground theatre. It was a multimedia presentation that showed actors living their lives and gigantic screen overheads with Stepford-like hosts jamming infomercials at both the characters and the audience. It was the bazaar but they were able to pull it off because of those infomercials, was quite profound, quite futuristic, Big Brotherish.
But avant garde theatre aside, from all outward signs in infomercials appear to be any credibly lucrative way to sell your products. I have no idea what the airtime costs, nor the production of the actual infomercials itself, but I know they must be profitable because they continue to dominate late-night television. You have to wonder what audiences they are reaching though. At these times the only ones watching must be either insomniacs or late shift workers. But I'm sure that those individuals who are paying for the infomercials are well aware of their demographic.
Another interesting facet is the incredible claims of the advertisers and their hysterical pitches. They are loud, campy, histrionic, way too cheerful, and yet, as plastic as they are seem to come off as every day Joes, down to earth, or most honest folks on TV. This is obviously done for a reason because they want to relate to their target audience as much as possible. They really do talk up their products and usually offer demonstrations of how effectively they work. In addition, there’s what one ant-infomercials blogger reminds us is the thing that actually sells the oddities—called “repetitive reinforcement.” They tell you you want and need it often enough and you will want and need it. It is a very effective medium if you do it correctly.
I think the real selling point of any infomercial is the display of the product in action. Combined with the hyperbole of the hawker, the characteristics of most of the products stand out in some bizarre, unusually fun, or useful way. Many items are sold to people who don't actually need them of the presentation was done so well that they came away feeling that they actually did. As a matter of fact, some can be quite deceitful and their promotion.
Many Consumer Reports, and fraud experts will tell you that the products being hawked and infomercials are simply ineffective or at worst, faulty. A good example for us are vitamins and other health products that are completely ineffective, or of a miracle cleaner than actually turns out to be useless. Now we can use the king of the infomercials as an example. His name is Kevin Trudeau and he has sold books that tell people to give up traditional medicine—such people have done so and died.
He has, however, before being banned—finally—from infomercials altogether, made millions. Infomercials are not profitable for everyone though. Some people's products just don't sell. For these people that can become quite costly because they have to absorb the advertising costs. But for the lucrative products there are enough who are up late, stoned, exhausted, and vulnerable to the mesmerizing lull or drilling of new ideas and materials. Hey, I am not exempt. I still want one of those vacuum storage bag dealies, just so I can watch the magic of the suction collapse and therefore make more manageable all the sweaters I own. I've bought quite a few products that I see in infomercials, but don't tell anyone.
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