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American Infomercials

Article 4773 of aus.tv:
From: khorsell@ee.latrobe.edu.au (Kym Horsell)
Newsgroups: aus.tv
Subject: Re: American Infomercials
Date: 23 Feb 1995 16:54:14 +1100
Organization: Department of Electronic Engineering, La Trobe University
NNTP-Posting-Host: laplace.ee.latrobe.edu.au

In article <D4EoDx.BwG@ucc.su.OZ.AU> amaddiso@extro (Alex Maddison) writes:
>How long has Channel Ten been showing so-called "Infomercials"? Is there 
>a major market for such advertising in Australia? The types of products 
>offered by such Informercial advertising in the States are very popular - 
>a type of upmarket Demtel system. Last night's offering began as a 
>documentary on mental powers and subliminal advertising, and turned into 
>a cheap ad for a rather expensive series of thirty-odd subliminal audio 
>cassettes - for $594! While the style of presentation was amusing, it was
>disturbing to think that some people would believe the "facts" about "mental 
>programming" and spend nearly six hundred dollars on audio tapes. 

This made it into my "On this day" file.

You people are in for a reel treet!

1-hour commercials are somewhat the norm for all free-to-air
affiliates in the US overnight and some cable channels too.  But they
are typically slots of 30 min or 60 min SINGLE commercials for a

From personal experience they come in 3 flavours.

(1) The guy that wants to sell you his secret on how to get rich
without working.  

[Fade in] 
Guy on 100 ft yatch, surrounded by 10 scimpily-dressed women feeding
him grapes from a silver platter and applying liberal quantites of
baby oil.  "THIS COULD BE YOU", says the voice over.  The thing drones
on (typically most continue channel surfing at this point) and gives
the usual spate of sports stars that have tried the "secret method"
and/or various dull-as-ditchwater blue-collar workers with an apparent
IQ well into single digits, all saying "Hey, I tried it and it
WORKS. I get $ [insert big number here] per day and I never have to
leave my loungeroom! It's also COMPLETELY LEGAL!" (I don't know about
you, but my alarm bells always go off when they say this in an Ad).

After another droning 30 to 60 mins they advertise either (a) a list
of places where you can come from a "free" tutorial on the method; (b)
or send $300 for the video (Aha! Now we know how he made
it). Typically it turns out the "secret method" involves looking
through divorce or death notices and brow-beating a below-market-value
quick property sale on the relevant house or personal property

(2) Some guy has invented a miraculous new gadget that can jerk beef,
chop onions without tears, pickle turkeys or other fruit, or repair
tears in fake leather and enamelware to make it "Just Like Noo!"
Sometimes the product does all three. It always sells for $19.95 and
packaging and handling are around $20 as well.  If you RING RIGTH NOW
(what piker actually deals in person or through mail these days?) you
might get one of the products they were advertising for the LAST 6
months ABSOLUTELY AT NO EXTRA COST (packaging and handling a bit
extra, however).

Then this can of spray is for you!  (I'm not altogether sure the
product is different in the various cases).  

For baldness and receding hairline there is the can of (apparently)
black paint. They show you how it works.  There is a spate of
ex-sportspeople and blue-collar workers to say that it "works REEL
good" for them. It MUST be true!  The can of black paint (they are
working on other colours at their research facilities in
Sweden/Finland/Switzerland or somewhere over there where they KNOW how
to handle this kind of problem, but these will cost extra and come out
next month) costs $19.95 and packaging and handling are extra. 

For impotence they shyly say you'll have to contact them for a "free

For them Darned aliens there is
(something like the black paint but with extra mustard and maybe a
touch 'o Army surplus plutonium or nerve gas). It's been tested so it
PERFECTLY LEGAL! AND IT WORKS! (I am always glad to hear this --
where's the phone?)...

R. Kym Horsell
khorsell@EE.Latrobe.EDU.AU              kym@CS.Binghamton.EDU

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