This assignment was for a professional communication class. The purpose was to develop an expanded definition with a word chosen from a list. My word: infomercial. Node your homework
In the after-hours of the night owl line-up of cable television programming lurk an often unseen evil. This said evil is reveled as an asset to capitalism, the modern behavior altering device of our pop-culture, and the best way to find something you really don’t need that you never knew existed. This dark cloud of wickedness to which I refer is more commonly known as the infomercial. An infomercial is an extended television advertisement designed to allure targeted viewing audiences to buy goods or services through psychological aversion and shameless product promotion.
Through the unmentionable trials and tribulations of the advertisement industry, corporate executives and advertisement counselors have united to create the ultimate advertising machine, the infomercial. The word infomercial is a contemporary term coined by a nameless ad-exec whose identify will be forever obscured in this controversial promotion scheme. At its roots, the word “infomercial” is truly a conglomeration of its founding ideas; information and commercial.
The infomercial sets itself apart from the rest of the run of the mill trailers or Super Bowl commercials primarily by its lengthy time allotment. A true infomercial will completely occupy anywhere from one half of an hour up to an entire hour worth of programming. The purpose of this generous allowance of airtime is to thoroughly convince those watching of the fantastic features of said product being endorsed. As “channel surfing” becomes more prevalent among our largely indecisive culture, the time segment also gives rise to the possibility of accidentally stumbling across an infomercial while perusing the spectrum of programming.
Another element of the infomercial that is very important is the ways in which advertising agencies set the stage product’s surroundings. A live studio audience is usually present, consisting of undistinguished and seemingly unbiased individuals that the television viewer can relate to. The television then becomes an extension of this viewing audience, and due our humanistic desire to conform a viewer feels compeled to pay attention to the advertisement. But do not be fooled, this “live studio audience” is not as unbiased as one might be lead to believe. Often times these individuals are paid by the supporting advertisement agency and/or receive benefits in the form of free merchandise. So as to evoke a feeling of desire for the product, the advertisers cleverly manufacture a mock sensation of need by cuing the audience to certain emotions. Applause, ooo’s and ah’s are generally prompted at key moments so as to impress the onlookers. Camera angles of particular individuals might reveal someone who is intensely impressed, or droves of folks that cannot believe the grandeur of the product. But this, too, is a response forged of artifice.
Charismatic leaders have lead masses to die at war, convinced nations to elect them as their leader, and they also sold “salad shooters” back in the 1980s. Charisma is the sense of charm someone radiates as they function. Convincing someone to buy something they don’t need, as it turns out, is a very difficult task. However, people will buy things from figures they view as being trustworthy. Viewers generally become attracted to an infomercial because of the energetic behavior of the spokesman for the product. A muscle bulging body-builder selling home fitness equipment, a gorgeous female supermodel promoting electric hair removal equipment, or a world-renowned gourmet chef with a nice smile pushing a Ginsu knife -- all these individuals share the same characteristic of being able to drive a person to buy something they do not need. Gentle psychological subterfuge is employed by these charismatic spokespersons as they subject the viewers to the simple power of suggestion.
When it comes to the average Joe, a “good deal” is hard to pass up. Thus the pricing scheme and nature of the products found in the common infomercial are very predictable and, for the most part, fit into a small niche of our lives quite simply called “junk”. Each infomercial touts the amazing claim that a given product will enhance the quality of an individual’s life. An appeal to the lazy psyche of the individual is struck in the way of the appeal of easier living, and a more automated lifestyle. Anything from hand-held sewing machines to rotisserie baking ovens, age defying ionized bracelets and super-strength cleaning agents, and even home fitness equipment may be found in any stretch of infomercials. Along with these seemingly amazing products come equally amazing prices. The infomercial typically leads the viewer to believe the advertised item is worth much more than it really is, making a good deal sound better. But caveat emptor, such products are usually of inferior quality and in actuality overpriced.
The infomercial is a timeless classic in which opportunity crosses paths with product placement and simple human psychology. In the everlasting battle of our capitalistic society to earn another dollar or sell one more unit, the infomercial sells miracles to millions one hour at a time. In the middle of the night, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, or even on the network television station dedicated to none other than infomercials (The Home Shopping network), this common phenomena may be found. Convincing people to buy things they don’t want, and leading people to believe they need something they don’t like, the infomercial is an asset to capitalism that plagues our society.