Podcast [audio:https://www.arlingtonian.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Infomercial-Podcast.mp3|titles=Infomercial Podcast]


Everyone just wants to get back to watching their favorite television show, when they are bombarded with infomercials. These passionately attempting to persuade viewers to buy their one-of-a-kind, purchasable-by-TV-only bargain-priced thingamajig. Nine times out of 10 you will find that the gimmick is blatantly ignored and the actual television show soon commences, erasing all memory of the sales pitch. But during that one time that the spectator is sincerely drawn into the infomercial’s elaborate effort to sell the product, the question remains: is the item all it is made out to be? Does the product really let the user cook three patties to a perfect medium-well, while playing the top radio hits of the day and also tuning your ukulele- all for the fabulous price of $19.99? Countless people are more than a little bit skeptical of the outrageous promises. Is the item delivered really what the infomercial promised on the TV- or is it a cheapo knockoff hardly worth the shipping fees? Interestingly enough, Consumer Search.com says that almost 1 in 5 infomercial products do not work at all.

The array of products sold via infomercial is endless; they can be categorized as the slightly logical products and then the complete wipeouts of the infomercial world. One product considered helpful is the Aqua Globe, which can water your plant for two weeks. Personally, anything that does work for me that I would be doing myself is an A+ in my book. The Aqua Globe would go under infomercial products worth perusing.

Though the Aqua Globe may seem like a positive to the anti-infomercials argument, there are many more irrelevant and unworkable products. One such product is the infamous Snuggie. The Snuggie itself merits its own article, but in brief it is basically a blanket with arms. This infomercial-driven product may seem like a cry of relief to those who love keeping their arms tucked under their blanket at all times while relaxing. And those who never once want their arms to leave the safety of the blanket and venture out into the cold unknown. Those kinds of people would be attracted to the Snuggie like moths to a lamp; but the hyped-up Snuggie is not what it seems. Instead of feeling cozy and warm, you will be uncomfortable with the horrible fabric and strong static electricity it creates. It is the opposite experience ay blanket-lover would like to have.

When I am unfortunate enough to have to sit through several minutes of incessant infomercials I find myself wondering who out in the world this outrageous infomercial promising the impossible is actually drawing in. Are these people simply curious? Is it some sort of compulsion: uncontrollable infomercial product purchasing disorder? Or are they an avid believer in what the infomercial is selling? I find myself picturing the scene of a peculiar middle-aged man, overjoyed with his new TV-only purchase, fully believing in the legitimacy of all he was promised. After work he rushes home and quickly checks the mailbox or front door with mounting excitement. He waits and waits, and with each day that passes his dreamy illusion of the product he purchased for $29.99 on Channel 8 grows stronger and more ridiculous. When he finally receives his prize no product could match the expectations he has created in his head.

When I think about a story like that, I can’t help but wonder about the infomercials and the experiences people have with them. You may scoff at them or be completely intrigued by one and appalled by another, but infomercials have an undeniable effect on anyone who watches. In reality, only one of 100 will immediately call the 800 number to purchase the product after an infomercial has been shown and the entire industry generates $1.5 billion, according to Hawthorne Direct.  These pesky infomercials have gotten to more than a few people. If these TV ads are proving so successful, there is something about mankind that I do not understand. That would mean every, single person in Ohio would have to spend about $13,000 on infomercial products.

Infomercials may be unreliable and unrealistic. Some people see them as a joke while others (the ones who help generate the $1.5 billion) purchase and maybe, enjoy. Since infomercials cover such a wide range of subjects it is difficult to give a flat opinion on all infomercial products. Though the majority of people are not taken in by the infomercials, the truth is that the infomercials are a television interruption here to stay.
Photo by Snuggie

Photos courtesy of Snuggie and As Seen On TV