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Infomercials are forms of advertisements you may have come across in the early hours of the morning or midday. These advertisements are often presented as television shows and can last for 30 minutes or longer. They often make use of customer testimonials and demonstrations. While they may be useful to the advertising world, infomercials have also come under criticism for their use of exaggerated claims and a blurred distinction as advertisement rather than entertainment.
The most common complaint regarding infomercials is their use of exaggerated claims. Some infomercials exaggerate the effectiveness or uniqueness of their product, for example. Others may exaggerate the negative attributes of traditional or more popular methods. An infomercial for a hair removal product may show a woman deeply cutting herself with razors or severely burning herself with wax in an effort to display its product as the better option, for instance. Critics may oppose such tactics for failing to present a realistic picture and displaying "nonproblems."
Blurred Distinction Between Entertainment and Advertising
Infomercials often appear to be real television shows, luring viewers into watching for entertainment purposes. Infomercials may appear to be talk shows or even reality shows, thus blurring the distinction between advertisement and entertainment. Critics may not approve of these tactics, as they "trick" viewers into watching programming they wouldn't ordinarily watch. Today, television stations place disclaimers on all infomercials notifying the viewer that the following program is an advertisement and does not reflect the views of the station.
Intriguing and Entertaining
Infomercials present benefits from the advertisers' perspective. One benefit is the creative control afforded by an infomercial, which can create an intriguing and entertaining segment for viewers. Unlike most commercials, infomercials allow businesses to create ads that can capture a viewer's attention using celebrities and other captivating personalities. Additionally, infomercials can incorporate product demonstrations and customer testimonial, all presenting a more convincing ad for the viewer.
Longer Viewer Engagement
Unlike standard commercials, which are usually only 30 seconds, infomercials give advertisers the opportunity to engage a viewer for 15 to 30 minutes. This affords them more time to persuade a viewer to purchase a product. Such forms of advertisement also make use of instant ordering, asking viewers to "call now" or "log on now" for special deals. These tactics may also claim that a viewer has only a set amount of time to make a purchase to receive a special offer. This may encourage viewers to make purchases on the spot rather than later or not at all.
Christina Whitaker began her writing career in 2005 in newspaper journalism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from UCLA and a law degree. Her legal experience includes work in Federal Court, and civil and criminal litigation. She also maintains a blog on social, pop-culture and cultural matters.