Infomercial

An infomercial is a form of television commercial, which generally includes a toll-free telephone number or website. Most often used as a form of direct response television (DRTV), long-form infomercials are typically 28:30 or 58:30 minutes in length.[1][2][3] Infomercials are also known as paid programming (or teleshopping in Europe). This phenomenon started in the United States, where infomercials were typically shown overnight (usually 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.), outside peak prime time hours for commercial broadcasters. Some television stations chose to air infomercials as an alternative to the former practice of signing off. Some channels air infomercials 24 hours. By 2009, most infomercial spending in the U.S. occurred during the early morning, daytime and evening hours, or in the afternoon. Stations in most countries around the world have instituted similar media structures. The infomercial industry is worth over $200 billion.[4]

While the term "infomercial" was originally applied only to television advertising, it is now sometimes used to refer to any presentation (often on video) which presents a significant amount of information in an actual, or perceived, attempt to promote a point of view. When used this way, the term may be meant to carry an implication that the party making the communication is exaggerating truths or hiding important facts. Often, it is unclear whether the actual presentation fits this definition because the term is used in an attempt to discredit the presentation. Hence, political speeches or conventions may be derogatorily referred to as "infomercials" for a specific point of view.[5]

Format

The word "infomercial" is a portmanteau of the words "information" and "commercial". As in any other form of advertisement, the content is a commercial message designed to represent the viewpoints and to serve the interest of the sponsor. Infomercials are often made to closely resemble standard television programs. Some imitate talk shows and try to downplay the fact that the program is actually a commercial message. A few are developed around storylines and have been called "storymercials". However, most do not have specific television formats but craft different elements to tell what their creators hope is a compelling story about the product offered.

Infomercials are designed to solicit a direct response that is specific and at once quantifiable and are, therefore, a form of direct response marketing (not to be confused with direct marketing). For this reason, infomercials generally feature between two and four internal commercials of 30 to 120 seconds, which invite the consumer to call or take other direct action. Despite the overt request for direct action, many consumers respond to the messages in an infomercial with purchases at retail outlets. For many infomercials, the largest portion of positive response is for consumers to take action by purchasing at a retail store. For others, the advertiser will instead promote the item as "not sold in stores." Some advertisers who make this choice dislike sharing profit with retailers, while many simply lack the immense resources necessary to get their products into the retail industry channels prior to achieving on-air success. In the latter case, many hope to use profit from direct sales to build their business/company in order to achieve later retail distribution. Standalone shorter commercials, 30 to 120 seconds in length with a call to action, are erroneously called infomercials; when used as an independently produced commercial, they are generally known as DRTV spots or short-form DRTV.[6] Many products and services that advertise using infomercials often also use these shorter spots to advertise during regular programming.

Products using infomercial marketing

The products frequently marketed through infomercials at the national level include cleaning products, appliances, food-preparation devices, dietary supplements, alternative health aids, memory-improvement courses, books, compilation albums, videos of numerous genres, real estate investment strategies, beauty supplies, baldness remedies, sexual-enhancement supplements, weight-loss programs and products, personal fitness devices, home exercise machines and adult chat lines. Automobile dealerships, attorneys and jewelers are among the types of businesses that air infomercials on a local level.

Major brands (such as Apple,[7] Microsoft and Thermos-Grill2Go[8]) have used infomercials for their ability to communicate more complicated and in-depth product stories. This practice started in the early 1990s and has increased since. Such advertisers generally eschew the less reputable trappings of the traditional infomercial business in order to create communication they believe creates a better image of their products, brands and consumers. Apple's use of the infomercial medium was immediately discontinued with Steve Jobs' 1997 return to the helm of the company.

History

Early infomercials

During the early days of television, many television shows were specifically created by sponsors with the main goal of selling their product, the entertainment angle being a hook to hold audience attention (this is how soap operas got their name). A good example of this is the early children's show The Magic Clown on NBC, which was created essentially as an advertisement for Bonomo's Turkish Taffy.[9] It is claimed that the first infomercial for a commercial product appeared in 1949 or 1950, for a Vitamix blender. Eventually, limits imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on the amount of advertising that could appear during an hour of television did away with these programs, forcing sponsors into the background; however, a few infomercials, mainly those for greatest hits record sets and Shop Smith power tools, did exist during the period when commercial time was restricted.

It is quite possible that the first modern infomercial series to run in North America was on San Diego-area television station XETV, which during the 1970s ran a one-hour program every Sunday consisting of advertisements for local homes for sale. As the station was actually licensed by the Mexican government to the city of Tijuana, but broadcasts all of its programs in English for the U.S. market, the FCC limit at that time of a maximum of 18 minutes of commercials in an hour did not apply to the station.

1981

The Federal Communications Commission lifted the prohibition on program-length advertisements on radio in 1981.[10]

After 1984

Infomercials proliferated in the United States after 1984 when the Federal Communications Commission eliminated regulations that were established in the 1950s and 1960s to govern the commercial content of television.[11][12] Infomercials particularly exploded in the mid-1990s with motivational and personal development products, and "get-rich-quick scheme"s based on the premise that one could quickly become wealthy by either selling anything through classified ads or through real estate flipping. These were hawked by personalities such as Don Lapre and Carleton H. Sheets, among others.

When they first appeared, infomercials were most often scheduled in the United States and Canada during late-night/early morning hours. As stations have found value in airing them at other times, a large portion of infomercial spending occurs in the early morning, daytime, early prime and even prime time periods. There are also all-infomercial networks (such as cable channels Corner Store TV, Access Television Network and GRTV) that yield revenue for cable and satellite providers who carry them or fill local programming voids. In the past, these channels were allowed in cable carriage contracts to overlay the paid programming of national cable networks until around 2006. A notable incident occurred when a quadruple-overtime 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs game on Versus was interrupted in many areas by cable operator-programmed infomercials after 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. EDT, causing vehement fan reaction that led to Versus removing this allotment from their carriage agreement, as did most other networks. CNBC, which airs only two hours of infomercials nightly during the business week, sometimes airs nearly 30 hours of infomercials on weekends; from the September–October 2008 financial crisis to early 2017, CNBC had inserted a "paid programming" bug at the top right corner of the screen during all airings of infomercials. In contrast, sister network CNBC World airs international programming rather than any paid programming.

A comparison of television listings from 2007 with 1987 verifies that many North American broadcasters now air infomercials in lieu of syndicated television series reruns and movies, which were formerly staples during the more common hours infomercials are broadcast (such as the overnight hours). Infomercials were previously a near-permanent staple of Ion Television's daytime and overnight schedules, but the channel now only carries infomercials in the traditional 3:00-8:00 a.m ET/PT timeslot emulated by most cable networks. Multichannel providers such as DirecTV had objected to carrying Ion feeds consisting largely of paid programming, though the satellite service does carry several infomercial-only channels.[13]

United Kingdom

As with other advertising, content is supervised by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and regulated by Ofcom. Advertising rules are written and maintained by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP), working closely with the ASA and Ofcom.[14]

In the UK, "admags" (advertisement magazines) were originally a feature of the regional commercial ITV stations from launch in 1955, but were banned in 1963. The word "teleshopping" was coined in 1979 by Michael Aldrich, who invented real-time transaction processing from a domestic television and subsequently installed many systems throughout the UK in the 1980s.[15] This would now be referred to as online shopping. In the 1989, the Satellite Shop was the launched as the first UK shopping channel. Shortly afterwards, infomercials began on satellite television, and they became known as teleshopping.[16] Until 2009, the UK permitted neither paid infomercials nor teleshopping on broadcast television. However, in 2009, Ofcom allowed up to three hours of infomercials per day on any channel.

Airtime for political messages, known as Party Political Broadcasts, is allocated free of charge to political parties according to a formula approved by Parliament, and is available only on broadcast television and radio channels. The Communications Act 2003 prohibits political advertising.[17][18] Television advertising of pharmacy-only and prescription drugs is also prohibited.[19]

Televangelists

Some U.S. televangelists such as Robert Tilton and Peter Popoff buy television time from infomercial brokers representing television stations around the U.S., and even some widely distributed cable networks that are not averse to carrying religious programming. A block of such programming appears weekdays on BET under the umbrella title BET Inspiration (which fully replaced the direct-response variety of infomercials on the channel in 1997). The vast majority of religious programming in the United States is distributed through paid infomercial time; the fees that televangelists pay for coverage on most religious stations are a major revenue stream for those stations, in addition to programming the networks produce themselves.

TiVo

TiVo formerly used paid programming time weekly on the Discovery Channel on early Thursday mornings and Ion Television on early Wednesday mornings to record interactive and video content to be presented to subscribers in a form of linear datacasting without the need to interfere with a subscriber's internet bandwidth (or lack thereof if they solely used the machine's dialup connection for updating). The program was listed as Teleworld Paid Program, named for TiVo's corporate name at its founding.[20] Teleworld Paid Program was quietly discontinued at the start of the 2016–17 television season as the company's install base had mostly transitioned to broadband and newer TiVo devices no longer included a dialup option.

The 2007–2010 financial crisis

During the financial crisis that lasted from 2007 to 2010, many struggling individual television stations began to devote more of their programming schedules to infomercials, thereby reducing syndication contracts for regular programming. Some stations found that the revenue from infomercial-time sales were higher than those possible through traditional television advertising and syndication sales options. However, the reduced ratings from airing infomercials can have a domino effect and harm ratings for other programming on the station.[21]

A feature-length documentary that chronicles the history of the infomercial is Pitch People.

In 2008, Tribune Media Services and Gemstar-TV Guide/Rovi began to relax the guidelines for listing infomercials within their electronic program guide listings. Previously all infomercials were listed under the title "Paid Programming" (except for exceptions listed below), but now infomercial producers are allowed to submit a title and limited synopsis (though phone numbers or website addresses may be disallowed) to the listings providers.

Fox's Saturday morning programming

In November 2008, the Fox Network announced that beginning in January 2009 it would discontinue its Saturday morning children's programming block 4Kids TV after a dispute with provider 4Kids Entertainment over compensation and issues with distribution. The network opted to replace part of 4Kids TV with a two-hour block of infomercials under the title of Weekend Marketplace (though two additional hours were given back to Fox's stations).[22] This made Fox the first major broadcast network to carry a schedule of paid programming. However, many local stations already utilize Saturday morning slots to air locally oriented paid programming that typically sells used cars or real estate. Though Fox hoped the move would result in unique and exclusive paid programming made exclusively for them, the five-year block was generally disdained by viewers and Fox affiliates alike; revenue was not shared with affiliates, and no local time for commercials between programs was offered. Furthermore, no Fox-exclusive infomercials were aired; some stations opted to use the extra time on Saturday morning for E/I programming, with infomercials relegated to before or after the block, or even limited to afternoons (if local newscasts were shown earlier). Other stations refused Weekend Marketplace outright. and it went unaired in several markets, or otherwise buried in other time slots clearly listed as generic paid programming. In September 2014, Weekend Marketplace was replaced in some markets for the E/I-focused Xploration Nation programming block, but continues under the same format as it did at the start.[23]

Criticism and legal issues

In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that any infomercial 15 minutes or longer must disclose to viewers that it is a paid advertisement. An infomercial is required to be "clearly and conspicuously" marked as a "paid advertisement for [particular product or service], sponsored by [sponsor]" at the beginning ("following program") and end ("preceding program") of the advertisement and before ordering instructions are displayed.[24]

Because infomercials may sometimes take a sensational tone, and because some of the products and services sold may be of a questionable nature, consumer advocates recommend careful investigation of the sponsor,[25] the product and the claims before making a purchase. To that end, some stations and networks normally run their own disclaimers before, during or after infomercials, stating that in addition to the program being a paid advertisement, the broadcaster bears no responsibility or liability for the infomercial's content (the legality of a station or network attempting to absolve itself of liability for a program it airs, while profiting from the same program, has never been tested in court). A few stations also encourage viewers to contact their local Better Business Bureau or state or local consumer protection agency to report any questionable products or claims that air on such infomercials. Some channels, such as CNBC (until early 2017), Fox Business Network (which has stopped doing so) and Bloomberg Television include a "paid programming" bug in a corner of the screen during infomercials, which is especially important for financial products to avoid an exploitation of an "as seen on" claim of endorsement by the network. Other channels, particularly smaller networks such as RFD-TV, have publicly disavowed infomercials and refused to air them (RFD-TV has since lifted its ban but only airs infomercials in graveyard slots).

Considerable FTC scrutiny is also given to results claims like those in diet/weight loss advertisements. They especially focus on testimonial claims, considering them to be as intentional a scripted, written claim. The rules controlling endorsements are modified from time to time to increase consumer protection and fill loopholes.[26][27] Industry organizations such as the Electronic Retailing Association, which represents infomercial marketers, often try to minimize the impact of these rule changes.[28] Additionally, the FTC has been enforcing laws regarding testimonials and has filed suits against several companies for publishing "non-typical" and "completely fabricated" customer testimonials to support their claims within the infomercials. In 2006, the first third-party testimonial verification company was launched, and now independently validates the consumer testimonials used in many infomercials.

Since the 1990s, federal and state consumer protection agencies have either successfully sued or been critical of several prominent infomercial pitchmen, including Kevin Trudeau, Donald Barrett and, to a lesser extent, Matthew Lesko. Don Lapre, a salesman notorious for his get-rich-quick schemes, committed an apparent suicide while in federal custody awaiting a trial for several dozen counts of fraud.[29]

Parodies

The Infomercial format has been widely parodied:

  • In a sort of self-parody, the movie Santo Gold's Blood Circus features a musical number in which mail-order jewelry salesman "Santo Gold" Rigatuso (who financed the film) advertises his wares. Santo Gold promoted the film heavily in its infomercials.
  • A skit in the cartoon series Tiny Toon Adventures has an infomercial hostess trying to sell a clothesline for $39.95, but has to include additional offers to try to justify the high price.
  • In the Garfield and Friends episode "Dread Giveaway", Garfield dreams of attempting to give away Nermal in an infomercial, but no one wants to take him.
  • In the 2003 live-action film The Cat in the Hat, the cat performs an entire talkshow-style infomercial spoof for a magical (but disastrous) cupcake maker. In the spoof, the Cat plays the roles of host and guest/expert.
  • In the direct-to-video movie The Lion King 1½, Pumbaa sits on the remote in mid-movie and the screen switches to a jewelry infomercial from QVC.
  • Quebec-based website Têtes à Claques has produced several infomercial parodies in French.
  • The comedy duo Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim have produced several infomercial parody segments that are showcased on their oddball comedy show Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, notably one for a CD-ROM-based version of the internet called the "Innernette". It employs many of the cliched infomercial hallmarks and phrases such as enthusiastic demonstrations, and outlandish claims of user satisfaction.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic parodied infomercials in the song Mr. Popeil, a homage to inventor and infomercial spokesperson Ron Popeil, on his 1984 album "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D (Popeil himself had used the song in some of his infomercials). Well known pitchmen like Popeil and Billy Mays have been the inspiration for many of these parodies.
  • Saturday Night Live's "Bassomatic" skit featuring Dan Aykroyd in the 1970s may have presaged the genre.[30]
  • In the "Home-Cooked Eds" episode of the Cartoon Network series Ed, Edd & Eddy, the Kanker Sisters decide to watch infomercials after taking over Eddy's house in yet another misguided attempt at affectation.
  • Robot Chicken has parodied numerous infomercials, along with their hosts. Popular examples include Mick Hastie, Cathy Mitchell and Billy Mays. Shortly following Mays' demise, he was parodied posthumously on South Park.
  • Adult Swim aired a highly elaborate parody of an infomercial, Paid Programming, several times in November 2009. The clearest evidence that the parody, which advertised various fictional "Icelandic Ultra Blue" products, was not real was the use of profanity and the fact that Adult Swim (or as a whole, the parent network it shares channel space with, Cartoon Network) does not air infomercials. Additional infomercial parodies soon followed. In late 2014, their infomercials block aired Too Many Cooks, which became a highly popular viral video shortly thereafter.
  • The ABC improvisation-comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway? regularly satires infomercials in two of its segments. One is "Greatest Hits", where the infomercial hosts (usually including show regulars Colin Mochrie and Ryan Stiles) attempt to sell an album of "greatest hits" about unlikely subjects, with songs mentioned usually sung by the other show regular Wayne Brady. The other one concerns them trying to make useless junk seem desirable.
  • Some of the most outstanding sketches from the Australian television sketch show "SkitHOUSE" feature a fictional telemarketing company called "Nothing Suss".
  • UK children's sketch show Horrible Histories features an infomercial host character called the Shouty Man, who enthusiastically pitches unusual past-time products.
  • A significant part of the plot of Requiem for a Dream revolves around a sinister infomercial parody and one of the characters' strong desire to appear in it.

Other uses and definitions

Political infomercials

In the United States, the strategy of buying prime-time programming slots on major networks has been utilized by political candidates for both presidential and state office to present infomercial-like programs to sell a candidate's merits to the public. Fringe presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche regularly bought time on CBS and local stations in the 1980s. In the 1990s, Ross Perot also bought network time in 1992 and 1996 to present his presidential policies to the public. The National Rifle Association has also aired programs via paid programming time to present their views on issues such as gun control and other issues while appealing to the public to join their organization.

Use during the 2008 presidential campaign

Hillary Clinton bought an hour of primetime programming on the Hallmark Channel in 2008 before the Super Tuesday primary elections, and on Texas-based regional sports network FSN Southwest before that state's primary to present a town hall-like program. Fellow presidential candidate Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign used infomercials extensively. including running a 24-hour channel on Dish Network.[31] One week before the 2008 general election, Obama purchased a 30-minute slot at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time during primetime on seven major networks (NBC, CBS, MSNBC, Fox, BET, TV One and Univision (with Spanish subtitles)) to present a "closing argument" to his campaign. The combination of these networks reportedly drew a peak audience of over 33 million viewers of the half-hour program, making it the single most watched infomercial broadcast in the history of U.S. television.[32]

Children's programming

Although not meeting the definition of an infomercial per se, animated children's programming in the 1980s and early 1990s, which included half-hour animated series for franchises such as Transformers, My Little Pony, Go-Bots and Bravestarr were often described by media experts and parents derisive of these types of series as essentially program-length commercials, as they also sold the tie-in toy lines and food products for the shows within commercials. The Children's Television Act of 1990 was instrumental in ending this practice and setting commercial limits. Currently, any advertisement for a tie-in product within the show is considered a violation of the FCC rules and is considered a "program length commercial" by their standards, putting the station at risk of paying large fines for violations.

These regulations do not apply to cable networks; for instance, Disney Channel currently features tie-ins for virtually all of its shows (in addition to standard program promotions and promotions for other Disney products) instead of commercials, while only going as far as promoting DVD and CD versions of those programs, while competitor Discovery Family (the former Hub Network) is a consortium between Discovery Communications and toymaker Hasbro, which airs many shows based on their properties on the network, an arrangement that would be impossible on broadcast television. Nickelodeon often brokers time to Mattel on Sunday mornings for their series of children's films promoting their line of Barbie dolls, which promote the release on DVD of those films.

However, as seen in the aftermath a case where the characters for shoe company Skechers's children's shoe commercials were adapted into a full-length series, Zevo-3 for Nicktoons,[33][34] effectively cable networks usually use FCC rules as a basic guideline and rarely stray away from the basic tenets of the CTA to avoid risking their reputations with parents, consumer advocates and other groups which would argue for equivalent FCC controls for cable networks as broadcast networks for children's content.

Daytime programming

A new genre of locally produced television rose in the mid-2000s as television stations (especially those affiliated with NBC and Fox, where NBC gave up the most programming time; Fox has no daytime programming per se) saw network time on weekday mornings after 9 a.m. returned to local control and saw new national talk shows either fail or not attract the right demographic to a timeslot. Beginning with Daytime on Media General-owned station WFLA-TV in Tampa, Florida in the early 2000s, a new format came into use; these programs used the structure of a traditional locally produced daytime show with its usual format of light talk, health features, beauty tips and recipe segments (which were popular from the early 1970s up to the early 1990s, when expanding local newscasts became a much less expensive, more dependable form of revenue). Some of these shows, such as ABC affiliate WKBW-TV's long-running AM Buffalo in Buffalo, New York, seamlessly made the transition from a traditional local talk show to a paid program with little notice.

This type of program usually features light talk, designed to draw in mainly a stay-at-home female audience, followed by presentations of various products, services, and packages by local businesses; for example, a basement waterproofing system might be discussed by the representative of a company in that business with the hosts, along with perhaps a special offer for viewers; a chiropractor (or other medical professional) might discuss back pain or other health-related issues, and provide contact information for his/her practice. These segments, though carefully disclaimed after concerns were brought up about the original program model of Daytime, are designed to give a business a detailed presentation of their service that might not be possible in a traditional 30-second pre-recorded commercial, or the minute-long slots which have a short demonstration of the product and an offer prevalent during early evening programming.

Although locally produced, the programs are also presented by hosts which are not associated in any way with the station's newsroom, or by a host who formerly anchored a station's newscasts and (while still familiar with the station's viewers) may be looking for an easier and less harried work schedule. Under most guidelines, hosts cannot appear in newscasts and in productions run by the sales department at the same time, due to ethical concerns about sponsorships influencing newscasts. Thus, news anchors and reporters cannot host these shows, nor can hosts of these shows appear in newscasts as reporters; for instance, in the case of the aforementioned AM Buffalo, host Linda Pellegrino was forced to resign her post as a weather anchor on WKBW when AM Buffalo began adding sponsored segments. In fact, if a breaking news event takes place during the program, it is usually cut off with only a quick pause and no mention by the host that they are sending viewers to the news desk for details on the story. In definition, these programs can be considered infomercials, albeit not exactly meeting the letter of the definition.

Other broadcasters as have adopted the model are:

  • Meredith Corporation, which uses a modified form for their national/local hybrid program Better; the nationally produced program was canceled in May 2015.
  • Belo, which used a modified form on many of its stations, branded Great Day (city) in several markets; WFAA-TV in Dallas, Texas uses the name Good Morning Texas to have some similarity to Good Morning America as WFAA is an ABC affiliate, while NBC affiliate KGW in Portland, Oregon brands its program Greater Portland Today to have similarity with the Today show. These programs remain in production following Belo's merger with the broadcasting unit of the Gannett Company (now known as TEGNA) in 2013.
  • The defunct LIN Media, which featured the same format with localized titles on many of its stations (on WLUK-TV in Green Bay, Wisconsin, it is known as Living with Amy, while WNAC-TV in Providence, Rhode Island brands their program The Rhode Show, and Norfolk, Virginia station WVBT titles their program The Hampton Roads Show). These two programs remained in production following LIN's merger with the broadcast unit of Media General in 2014 (and as of 2017, with LIN/Media General forerunner Nexstar Media Group), while Living with Amy remains in production following WLUK's sale to Sinclair Broadcast Group in 2014 due to market concentration concerns.
  • Journal Broadcast Group stations acquired by the E. W. Scripps Company in April 2015 also feature a format called The Morning Blend on many of their stations, which is much closer to the Daytime format.

Infomercial companies

Traditional infomercial marketers (for example, Guthy-Renker, Beachbody, and Telebrands) source the products, pay to develop the infomercials, pay for the media, and are responsible for all sales of the product. Sometimes, they sell products they source from inventors. Telebrands's process of bringing a product to the air and to market was seen in the 2009 Discovery Channel series PitchMen, which featured Billy Mays and Anthony Sullivan, along with the top executives of Telebrands.

There is also a well-developed network of suppliers to the infomercial industry. These suppliers generally choose to focus on either traditional infomercials (hard sell approaches) or on using infomercials as advertising/sales channels for brand companies (branded approaches). In the traditional business, services are usually supplied by infomercial producers or by media buying companies. In the brand infomercial business, services are often provided by full service agencies who deliver strategy, creative, production, media, and campaign services.

Use around the world

The infomercial industry was started in the United States and that has led to the specific definitions of infomercials as direct response television commercials of specific lengths (30, 60 or 120 seconds; five minutes; or 28 minutes and 30 seconds). Infomercials have spread to other countries from the U.S. However, the term "infomercial" needs to be defined more universally to discuss use in all countries. In general, worldwide use of the term refers to a television commercial (paid programming) that offers product for direct sale to consumer via response through the web, by phone, or by mail.

There are few structures that apply everywhere in the international infomercial business. The regulatory environment in each country as well as that country's television traditions have led to variations in format, lengths, and rules for long form commercials and television commercials selling direct to consumer. For example, in the early 1990s long form paid programming in Canada was required to consist only of photographs without moving video (this restriction no longer exists).

Many products which started in the United States have been taken into international distribution on television. In addition, each country has local entrepreneurs and marketers using the medium for local businesses. What may be called infomercials are most commonly found in North and South America, Europe, Japan and Southeast Asia.

In many countries, the infrastructure of direct response television distributors, telemarketing companies and product fulfillment companies (shipping, customer service) are more difficult and these missing pieces have limited the spread of the infomercial.

Research on effectiveness

Research has been conducted on consumer perceptions of infomercials. Agee and Martin (2001) found that infomercial purchases involved some degree of planning rather than being purely impulse purchases. Aspects of advertising content also influenced whether the purchase decision was impulsive or planned.[35] Martin, Bhimy and Agee (2002) studied the use of advertising content such as the use of testimonials and consumer characteristics. Based on a survey of 878 people who had bought products after viewing infomercials, they found that infomercials were more effective if they used expert comments, testimonials, product demonstrations, and other approaches. Consumer age and product type also influenced perceived effectiveness.[36]

See also

References

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  2. ^ Infomercial Definition – Your Dictionary – © 1996–2010 LoveToKnow, Corp.
  3. ^ Advertising Media Infomercials Law & Legal Definition – US Legal Definitions – Copyright © 2001–2010 USLegal, Inc.
  4. ^ Bogle, Ariel. "Is the Infomercial Dead?". Slate. The Slate Group. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
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  6. ^ McCrea, Bridget. "Smarter, Better, Faster". Response Magazine. Retrieved 2014-04-16.
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  8. ^ Rudnick, Michael. Char-Broil's First DRTV Effort Gets Grill Sales Sizzling DMNews. 16 May 2001.
  9. ^ Fifty years of candy: consolidation, clowns and confidence. Candy Industry, August 1, 1994
  10. ^ See Deregulation of Radio, 84 F.C.C.2d 968, 1007 (1981) (rescinding the FCC’s policy banning program-length radio commercials.)
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  12. ^ See Revision of Programming and Commercialization, Policies, Ascertainment Requirements, and Program Log Requirements for Commercial Television Stations, 98 F.C.C.2d 1075 (1984) (rescinding the FCC’s policy banning program-length television commercials).
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  14. ^ "About Us". Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP). Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  15. ^ "Checking on the check-outs". Financial Times. 12 July 1980.
  16. ^ "The Inventor's Story, Pioneers of Online Shopping". Aldrich Archive. University of Brighton.
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  18. ^ "BCAP Code: Prohibited categories". Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP). Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  19. ^ "BCAP Code: Medicines, medical devices, treatments and health". Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP). Retrieved 6 January 2014.
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  21. ^ Pergament, Alan. Channel 4 returns to the lead, but cable quarrel boosts Channel 7. The Buffalo News. 18 November 2008.
  22. ^ Schneider, Michael (2008-11-23). "Longform ads replace kid fare on Fox". Variety.
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  25. ^ Timothy D. Naegele & Associates Announces Class Action Lawsuit Against Guthy-Renker.
  26. ^ "FTC Announcement Requesting Comments on Changes".
  27. ^ 16 CFR PART 255—GUIDES CONCERNING USE OF ENDORSEMENTS AND TESTIMONIALS IN ADVERTISING
  28. ^ "ERA Posting on 2008–2009 Rules Changes". Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  29. ^ KSAZ: "Incarcerated TV Pitchman Don Lapre Found Dead", October 3, 2011. Archived October 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ "Bassomatic Transcript". Retrieved 2009-04-16.
  31. ^ "The Obama channel". Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  32. ^ "UPDATE 1-Obama infomercial tops network prime-time ratings". 30 October 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2016 – via Reuters.
  33. ^ - "New Nicktoons Show Called Out For Being Just One Huge Skechers Ad" – by Chris Morran on September 15, 2010 – The Consumerist – Shoppers bite back – © 2005–2010 Consumer Media LLC.
  34. ^ "Skechers Puts Promotional Foot Forward Behind Nicktoons' Zevo-3 Series" – by Mike Reynolds – Multichannel News, 8 June 2010 – © 2010 NewBay Media, LLC.
  35. ^ Tom Agee and Brett A. S. Martin (2001), "Planned or Impulse Purchases? How to Create Effective Infomercials", Journal of Advertising Research, 41 (6), 35-42.
  36. ^ Brett A. S. Martin, Andrew Bhimy and Tom Agee (2002), "Infomercials and Advertising Effectiveness: An Empirical Study", Journal of Consumer Marketing, 19 (6), 468-480.

Further reading

BEP Empire/Get Original

"BEP Empire/Get Original" is a double A-side and the first single taken from the album Bridging the Gap by the Black Eyed Peas. It reached number 44 in the Hot Rap Singles chart.

Direct response television

Direct response television (DRTV) is any television advertising that asks consumers to respond directly to the company — usually either by calling a toll-free telephone number, sending an SMS message, or by visiting a web site. This is a form of direct response marketing.

There are two types of direct response television, short form, and long form. Short form is any DRTV commercial that is two minutes or less in length. Long form direct response is any television commercial longer than two minutes. This was the accepted term for an infomercial from 1984 until "infomercial" came into vogue in 1988. The most common time period available for purchase as "long form" infomercial media is 28 minutes, 30 seconds in length. Long form is used for products that need to educate the consumer to create awareness and typically have a higher price. A relatively small amount or media time may be purchased in lengths less than 30 minutes but more than 2 minutes. Five minutes is the most commonly available time of these lengths.

Direct response television campaigns are commonly managed by specialist Direct Response or DRTV agencies with a full range of strategic, creative, production, media, and campaign services. The founder of DRTV, Alvin Eicoff started his own DRTV agency, Eicoff They may also be managed by media buying agencies who specialize in direct response. In either case, these agencies purchase two types of air-time in two ways. The first is to purchase off of a station or broadcast network's rate-card for time. The second is to purchase remnant airtime, which is time that stations were not able to sell, and need to fill quickly or cheaply to avoid broadcasting dead-air. This is cheaper for agencies, but they have less control over when their commercials will run. As DRTV has gained presence outside of its start in the United States, local agencies have developed in many countries.

To qualify as DRTV, the advertising must ask the consumer to contact the advertiser directly by phone, by text message, or via the web. In the early days of DRTV, this was nearly always to purchase the product. Over time, a wide range of consumer actions have become used. And, many consumers watch the advertising but choose to purchase at retail without ever contacting the company. Typically for every unit sold on TV, anywhere from 3 to as high as 15 units might be sold at retail depending on retail distribution.

Guthy-Renker

Guthy-Renker ( GUTH-ee RENG-kər) is an El Segundo-based direct-response marketing company that sells products directly to consumers through infomercials, television ads, direct mail, telemarketing, e-mail marketing, and the Internet. As of 2014, it has 8 different product groups, with an emphasis on celebrity-endorsed beauty products.

Guthy-Renker was founded in 1988 by Bill Guthy and Greg Renker. In 1995, it began distributing the acne treatment Proactiv, which became responsible for more than half its revenues by 2005. The company also created seven subsidiaries in the late 1990s for different products and advertising channels. It founded an infomercial channel, GRTV, which was sold to TVN Entertainment Corporation in 1999. Guthy-Renker's revenues grew from $400 million in 2001 to $1.5 billion by 2009. It formed a joint venture with Nestle Skin Health in 2016 whereby Nestle now manages Proactiv.

K31GL-D

K31GL-D is a low-power digital TV station in the Dallas / Fort Worth area, licensed to serve DeSoto, Texas, owned and operated by HC2 Holdings. It is not available on either Charter Spectrum, or Verizon FiOS at this time, and covers the Dallas/Fort Worth DMA.

This station initially began in 1980 (FCC file: BRTT-19800530IG) as K65BC of Mullin, Texas and was owned by Pompey Mountain Broadcasting, Incorporated of Corpus Christi, Texas. Marcos A. Rodriguez acquired the frequency in 1994 and ran Spanish music video programming on it 24 hours a day. KUVN-CA of Fort Worth operated on channel 31 until 2001 when KUVN-CA changed to channel 47 clearing the way for other use of channel 31. On January 6, 2004 the call sign of K65BC changed to K31GL with the change from channel 65 in Mullin to channel 31 in DeSoto. During the summer of 2006, the station picked up Almavision.

At one time in the late 1980s, a non-profit organization secured a construction permit for a full-power station on non-commercial Channel 31 in Fort Worth that would have broadcast with the call KETE-TV. However, the organization never built the station and the CP was cancelled by the FCC.

In late 2006, Almavision programming ceased on the station and it started airing an all-infomercial format, much like KBOP-LD's current format.

When K31GL switched from analog to digital broadcasting in November 2008, the Genesis network moved from KHPK-LP and KNAV-LP to K31GL, and KHPK-LP began broadcasting K31GL's former infomercial format. In December, subchannel 31.3 began an all-infomercial format.

On March 12, 2009, subchannel 31.3 began broadcasting TheCoolTV, a music video channel owned by Cool Music Network. 31.3 ceased transmitting TheCoolTV in September 2009, to have been replaced later by a locally originated channel HOT TV—the "HOT" acronym meant "History of Television"; programming consisted of old movies and TV programs from the 1950s and 1960s. From November 9, 2010 to December 7, 2010, Hot TV became a temporary hub for This TV (previously from WFAA Channel 8.3) before it was moved to its permanent home on KDAF channel 33.3 and on KDTX channel 58.3.

On May 19, 2009, subchannel 31.4 began broadcasting AMGTV. Less than a year later on May 13, 2010, 31.4 switched to an affiliate of the Retro Television Network.

On January 7, 2011 31.5 was launched airing infomercials.

In June 2013, K31GL-D was slated to be sold to Landover 5 LLC as part of a larger deal involving 51 other low-power television stations; the sale fell through in June 2016. Mako Communications sold its stations, including K31GL-D, to HC2 Holdings in 2017.

Kevin Trudeau

Kevin Mark Trudeau (; born February 6, 1963) is an American author, salesman, and pool enthusiast, known for his fraudulent promotion of his books and consequent legal cases. His ubiquitous infomercials promoting his books filled with unsubstantiated health, diet, and financial remedies earned him a fortune, and eventually, imprisonment.

In the early 1990s, Trudeau was convicted of larceny and credit card fraud. In 1998, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) accused him of grossly misrepresenting the contents of his book, The Weight-Loss Cure "They" Don't Want You to Know About. In a 2004 settlement, he agreed to pay a $500,000 fine and cease marketing all products except his books, which are protected under the First Amendment. However, in 2011, he was fined $37.6 million for violating the 2004 settlement, and ordered to post a $2 million bond before engaging in any future infomercial advertising. In 2013, facing further prosecution for violations of the 2011 agreement and non-payment of the $37-million judgment, Trudeau filed for bankruptcy protection. His claims of insolvency were challenged by FTC lawyers, who maintained that he was hiding money in shell companies, and cited examples of continued lavish spending, such as $359 for a haircut.In November 2013, Trudeau was convicted of criminal contempt, and was sentenced to serve a 10-year sentence at a Federal Prison Camp in Alabama. Infomercials starring Trudeau and promoting his books — under the auspices of a private California corporation of undisclosed ownership — continue to air regularly on United States television stations.

List of digital television channels in Australia

This is a list of the current channels available on digital terrestrial television in Australia.

The commercial channels available to viewers depend on location and station ownership. The process of aggregation during the late 80s to mid 90s saw regional stations take on affiliations with metropolitan channels for programming, a practice that has continued into digital television with affiliated stations carrying various multichannels from their metropolitan counterparts.

Metropolitan in this list therefore refers to the capitals of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, where stations are owned and operated by the network rather than affiliates.

In areas not covered by terrestrial transmissions, the digital channels are provided by the free-to-view VAST satellite platform. The television channels on this platform are all encoded in H.264 and subject to a MPEG-LA controlled transmission patent licensing tax which is included in the VAST broadcaster cost and varies on viewership figures. The terrestrial transmissions still use H.262, which doesn't incur any additional transmission costs, but select channels are broadcast terrestrially in H.264.

List of programs broadcast by ABS-CBN

This is the list of programs that are being broadcast by ABS-CBN television network in the Philippines. The majority of the programs shown on the network are created by ABS-CBN Corporation's Entertainment division. ABS-CBN Entertainment Group is responsible for original programs ranging from musical and variety shows, showbiz, lifestyle, and comedy talk shows, comedy and gag shows, and sitcoms. Original and adapted telenovelas and drama anthologies are produced by Dreamscape, Star Creatives, RSB Unit, GMO Unit and other production drama units created by ABS-CBN, while news, public service and documentary programs are produced by ABS-CBN News and by other independent production outfits. ABS-CBN also acquires and syndicates program formats from abroad, most of which are reality shows. ABS-CBN also shows regional programs, TV specials, sporting and awarding events.

For the previously aired defunct programs of ABS-CBN, see list of programs aired by ABS-CBN.

List of programs broadcast by GMA News TV

GMA News TV (previously known as QTV / Q) is a commercial broadcast television network in the Philippines that is owned by Citynet Network Marketing and Production Inc. a subsidiary of GMA Network Inc. and ZOE Broadcasting Network. The following is a list of all television programming that GMA News TV is currently broadcasting since it began its television operations in 2005.

For the previously aired defunct programs of GMA News TV, see List of programs aired by Q/GMA News TV.

List of programs broadcast by Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation

This is the list of programs currently broadcast by the Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC), a broadcasting network in the Philippines, includes news and public affairs programs, sports, drama, sitcoms, variety shows, talk shows, informative and home shopping programs.

For the previously aired defunct programs of IBC 13, see List of programs previously broadcast by Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation.

OnTV4U

OnTV4U (often capitalized as ONTV4U) is an American television network that airs a 24/7 infomercial format. It can be seen through various cable providers and on terrestrial affiliates (listed).

Paid Programming (TV pilot)

Paid Programming (also known as Paid Programming: Icelandic Ultrablue or Icelandic UltraBlue), is a television pilot for Cartoon Network's late night programing block (Adult Swim) that premiered, unannounced, in the United States on the night of November 2, 2009, and was then re-aired every Monday through Friday night until December 4, 2009. It did not reair the night of November 23, 2009 due to a Family Guy rerun.

Paid Programming is a parody of infomercials and was created and written by H. Jon Benjamin and David Cross, and features amateur actors from Central Casting. Although the pilot was never picked up for a full series, it received a positive reception in London when screened at monthly comedy event called "Popcorn Comedy night". Adult Swim continues to periodically rebroadcast the pilot episode.

PitchMen

PitchMen (original name: But Wait...There's More) is a docudrama television program produced for the Discovery Channel in the United States. The show followed infomercial producers and talent Billy Mays and Anthony "Sully" Sullivan as they attempted to sell various inventions through direct-response marketing, mainly through Telebrands, one of the largest direct response/infomercial companies. The series was narrated by Thom Beers. Each episode typically focused on two different products.

Shake Weight

The Shake Weight is a modified dumbbell that oscillates, purportedly increasing the effects of exercise. As a result of the perceived sexually suggestive nature of the product, infomercial clips of the exercise device have gone viral.

Johann Verheem is the inventor of Shake Weight and CEO of FitnessIQ. By August 2010, a reported two million Shake Weight units had been sold for a total of $40 million in sales.

A 2011 study in Consumer Reports states that for the chest, shoulder and triceps, the Shake Weight's exercises are inferior to conventional exercises that target the individual muscles. For the biceps, the results were similar. Additionally, the report found that the Shake Weight routines burned fewer calories than walking at 3 mph.

Television presenter

A presenter is a person who introduces or hosts television programs (or segments thereof such as an infomercial advertiser). Nowadays, it is common for personalities in other fields to take on this role, but some people have made their name solely within the field of presenting, particularly within children's television series, to become television personalities.

The Shopping Channel (New Zealand)

The Shopping Channel is a New Zealand 24/7 Infomercial channel which is broadcast on Sky satellite. The company was founded in 2010 and went live on 1 October 2012.The Shopping Channel was owned by entrepreneur Greg Partington and is headquartered in Auckland, New Zealand.

Vince Offer

Offer Shlomi (Hebrew: עוֹפﬧ שלוֹמי; born April 25, 1964), better known as Vince Offer, Vince Shlomi, "The ShamWow Guy", or "The Slap Chop Guy" is an Israeli-American infomercial pitchman, director, writer, and comedian. Offer's first major work was the 1999 comedy film The Underground Comedy Movie. Offer owns, produces, and appears in television commercials for his products "ShamWow!", an absorbent towel; the "Slap Chop", a kitchen utensil; a lint roller called the "Schticky"; a liquid cleaner called "InVinceable"; and another kitchen utensil called "Crank Chop". He has also officially advertised other products that he does not own, such as Quicky Grass.

WQDI-LD

WQDI-LD is a digital low-powered television station serving the Cleveland-Akron-Canton, Ohio media market. Licensed to Canton, Ohio, the station is owned by DTV America Corporation, which also owns WEKA-LD. The station broadcasts its digital signal on UHF channel 21 (virtual channel 20 via PSIP). The station's independent channel (.7) carries infomercial programming.

Weekend Marketplace

Weekend Marketplace is a two-hour block of paid programming airing on Fox that debuted on January 3, 2009, replacing the 4Kids TV cartoon block due to the termination of the network's time lease agreement with 4Kids Entertainment. The block, which airs on Saturday mornings, is programmed solely with infomercials, which usually air on networks and broadcast television stations during late night and early morning timeslots; such programming, however, has not previously been scheduled on a regular basis by a major broadcast television network.Beginning on September 13, 2014 in some markets, Weekend Marketplace is able to be substituted with the internally syndicated Xploration Station block produced by Steve Rotfeld Productions, which provides two hours of educational and informational programming for stations to count toward federally mandated programming requirements; Fox's owned-and-operated stations and Tribune Broadcasting, along with several other affiliate groups and individual stations are currently carrying this block instead. Fox continues to offer Weekend Marketplace to stations which chose to purchase E/I programming off the open syndication market; notably the Fox stations (and one CW station) of Sinclair Broadcast Group are under the latter arrangement until fall 2016, when Sinclair will begin to carry Xploration Station, as are two stations within the E.W. Scripps Company's portfolio (Fox affiliate WFLX and MyNetworkTV affiliate WMYD). At least one Sinclair station (WUTV in Buffalo, New York) carries both, carrying Weekend Marketplace on Saturday mornings while splitting the Xploration Station block up and airing it as a weekday strip instead of as a block.

You're Whole

You're Whole is an American satirical television series created by Michael Ian Black for Adult Swim.

The show parodies self-help infomercials and stars Black as the host, Randall Tyree Mandersohn.

In it, Mandersohn advertises his systems of objects and actions designed to help people with their issues.

It was the production of Abominable Pictures, with which Black originally consulted with the premise of the show in mind.

Meanwhile, Michael Showalter, longtime collaborator of Black, served as the director.

The show originally ran from November 5, 2012 to December 2, 2013, airing two seasons and totaling eight episodes.

Both seasons were broadcast at 4:00 a.m. as part of DVR Theater on Adult Swim.

On air, it was promoted as a series of genuine infomercials.

Critical reception was positive, with many praising Black's performance.

A live performance was held at the 2014 SF Sketchfest, also positively received.

Context
Activism
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Marketing
News media
Political campaigning
Propaganda
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