The Origin And Development Of Infomercials
Filed under: Parenting

We have to admit good infomercials are loved by everyone. You may not have any interest in the product or intetion in buying it, it is still entertaining, gripping and mesmerizing to watch a good infomercial. So where is the origin of these social gems?


As early as the 1950s, companies were experimenting with what would eventually evolve into infomercials. They would create entire TV shows whose sole purpose was to promote a product or they would run one-hour specials on the weekend targeting a specific product. But it wasn’t until the 80s that infomercials really took off – thanks, in part, to fewer regulations from the Federal Communications Commission.


Initially, these infomercials ran during the late-evening and early-morning hours as an alternative for stations who didn’t want to sign off. Instead of displaying a test pattern during the wee hours of the morning, they would run infomercials. Both the infomercial producers and the various stations enjoyed success of these long-form advertisements and began to expand what times they aired. Today, there are entire channels devoted to infomercials. The Discovery Channel even produced a program called “PitchMen,” which was a show about infomercials.


As the industry has expanded, so have the various formats for infomercials. The Internet is littered with lengthy videos promoting various products, often holding to the same general format as traditional infomercials. This may include a faux talk show, having “experts” give their opinion on a product, or various demonstrations of how the product works. They will each include a call to action, which may be a phone number, a link, or something else.


However, an infomercial isn’t just about that call to action and converting as many sales as possible. Often the bigger goal is to inform the consumer about the product, branding it in their mind, so if and when the customer sees the product in a retail store they will be more inclined to buy it. That’s why infomercials spend most of their time talking about the product, its features, and its benefits, hoping to leave the viewer with a positive impression of the product.


The infomercial has come a long way since its beginnings decades ago, but its main purpose is the same. Informing the potential customer through demonstration and education not only can convince them of their need for that product, causing them to “call now,” but it also creates an impression of the brand that can hopefully turn into future sales as well.


Scott Spjut is a writer and editor who has been featured in various magazines, newspapers and websites, including Newsweek, the Washington Post, CBS News and the Las Vegas Review-Journal. With a B.A. in Communications, he continues to write on a wealth of topics – politics, health and fitness, business, marketing and more. Scott currently works with Visionary Strategies helping businesses take their marketing to the next level.

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