The As Seen on TV industry has long been ripe for parody, but the fact that it pulls down an estimated $400 billion a year from infomercial viewers makes it no laughing matter. It’s one of the most successful retail platforms in modern history. Yahoo’s Daily Ticker recently talked with As Seen on TV stalwart Scott Boilen of Allstar Products Group about the five top secrets that drive the success of an industry that sells you stuff you never thought you needed. Continue reading
Direct-response TV product marketer Top Dog Direct did not pick any winners at last week’s Shark Tank-like pitch-a-thon in Philadelphia. But it did see lots of very creative folks with lots of creative—and often bizarre—product ideas. Such as a bib made for sloppy adults. Continue reading
TurboTax Canada, the online tax filing service, has launched the clever “My First Time” ad campaign targeting millennials, in which cool, swinging young people describe their “first time.” Wink wink. But the first time they’re talking about isn’t hot, steamy sex. They’re talking about filing taxes.
AromaTrim was an insanely bizarre infomercial weight loss product from Forbes Riley, one of our favorite As Seen on TV personalities, pitched way back in 1996. Believe it or don’t, AromaTrim is a stinky hunk of plastic that you hold under your nose to make you lose your appetite for your favorite foods.
What does AromaTrim smell like? Limburger, vomit, poop, ammonia? Who knows? We guess you’d need to ask Forbes, because this product hasn’t been on the market for well over a decade. Apparently your $49.95 (?!) got you two stinky plastic blocks with distinctly different but equally awful scents, because different types of food need different stinks to make them repellent.
In the infomercial universe, horrors lurk around every corner!
The cold, hard reality of everyday life, the dark underbelly just beneath the surface of the mundane, the lurking horrors that await us at every turn of our workaday lives, are exposed by the brilliant actors in this series of infomercial GIFs.
Infomercials are a public service announcement warning us of what’s about to leap out at us from behind that closed kitchen cupboard, the nasty spill that’s going to destroy everything you’ve worked so tirelessly for your entire miserable little life, the countless hidden household dangers that threaten to embarrass, to maim, to force you to jump out a plate-glass window—on fire!
The horror of exploding tacos!
Among our favorites of these infomercial GIFs is the woman with the exploding taco. The horror! The terrorists have clearly won.
Never attempt to pour a beverage!
But wait, there’s more! A big lesson of infomercials is that you should never, ever attempt to pour a beverage without using some kind of As Seen on TV device.
God did not intend for iron to go in dryer.
If you’re this stupid, no product can help you. Everyone knows this won’t work unless the iron is still plugged in.
A word on containers and depth perception
In the infomercial universe, people are dumb and have terrible eyesight and depth perception. Witness the hands attempting to place a lid on a container overflowing with food. Will it work? Well, no—you’re going to wind up with a gigantic, soul-killing counter mess. Surely there’s a product that will come to your rescue.
Long risk lists may “reduce consumer comprehension”
The Food and Drug Administration is embarking on a study that could lead to major changes in how TV commercials for prescription drugs communicate health risks from using them. The FDA is concerned that those endless lists of warnings of insomnia, nausea, suicidal thoughts and diarrhea could reduce consumers’ ability to discern the most important, or actionable, risks, reports the New York Daily News.
The FDA is worried these lengthy risk lists are “often too long” and may “reduce consumer comprehension” to possible side effects. So it plans to survey 15,000 adults online by having them respond to four versions of a drug commercial.
Station gives thumbs up to Light Angel
Consumer investigator Nancy Naeve put the Light Angel to the test in her own home, with favorable results. She found that the motion-activated LED light worked perfectly for a dark closet.
“I live in a very old house where lighting is a premium,” said Naeve. “The closets are also very small, with no electricity there, so in the morning I can barely see, so I’ll be happy if this works.”
The newscaster set up the light, closed the closet door, waited a minute, and then opened the door to test the Light Angel’s motion activation and light quality.
“This one is pretty bright.”
“Oh yeah! Can you see this?” she exclaimed. “Normally I don’t like LED lights because I don’t think they get bright enough, but this one is pretty bright.”
Two for one, plus a free lantern
You can now get two Light Angels for the price of one, plus a free Olde Brooklyn Lantern, for $12.99 plus S&H. Free shipping is also available. Get the details and order Light Angel at the official website.
Infomercial king Kevin Trudeau is currently cooling his heels in prison for attempting to hide assets from the feds in his fight against the Federal Trade Commission related to his late-night infomercials for the book The Weight-Loss Cure “They” Don’t Want You to Know About.
Trudeau not the only guilty party in late-night TV fraud
But Trudeau, who spent two years in federal prison in the early 1990s for fraud, isn’t the only guilty party here, opines editorial writer Phil Mushnick of the New York Post.
TV viewers who tune into KTXA Channel 21 in the Dallas/Fort Worth area this Friday, Feb. 7, at 3 a.m. may not know just what to make of a new “infomercial” that’s not really selling anything. The 28-minute spot, featuring a gentleman who looks a lot like Steve McQueen whittling a walking stick and promising viewers the secret to immortal life, is part of an art exhibit by Texas artists Good/Bad Art Collective.
“Curtains,” an interactive experimental exhibit running through Feb. 16 at Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, invited visitors to see the set where the infomercial was filmed, and even help make the infomercial.
“At turns humorous and interactive, dark and thought-provoking, CURTAINS uses the dying medium of the infomercial to highlight the transience and ephemeral nature of the human experience,” reads the museum’s website.
The project brings to mind the 1970s commercials of experimental artist Chris Burden, who purchased late-night slots for his own weird films.