The infomercial is a tried and true advertisement, wherein advertisers purchase an entire half-hour block of time to hawk their products. These slots are generally late at night or early in the morning; wherever the network feels they can't make enough money selling normal ads to justify buying an actual show. On independent stations (especially in smaller markets) they can show up at any time of the day or night. They can even be disguised as "morning talk shows" designed to rope the housewife crowd into thinking that an amazing spa in town was discovered by the show's hosts, when said spa is paying for the show to mention them.
They'll give you "professional, independent research
" on how their product is the best, show you how clumsy their competitors' products are (using an actor who is paid to make their competitors' products look as clumsy as possible
), and even extol the virtues of their product in front of a real live Studio Audience
(who were pre-screened for their ability to ooh, ah, and yell "and forget it!").
Infomercials are often dressed up as
a talk show or pundit program, with the "guest" hawking the product. Infomercials even have "commercial breaks" (to tell you how to get the product, of course).
Many state fairs have commerce tents in which sellers demonstrate their wares infomercial style. This setup is called a "Hawk Stand" in Carny lingo. They are "hawking" products. The guy doing the demonstrations is the barker, or the "Doc". "Barker", after the speaking style, which employs short, sharp words like a dog barking. "Doc" comes a longer route - traveling snake-oil salesmen always claimed to be a doctor of one sort or another, and they used a very similar setup and pitch to do their thing.
So there you are, in case you were wondering about the difference between a snake-oil salesman and an infomercial spokesperson: namely, one of them works in front of a camera.
Uncommon on British TV, apart from those channels that are devoted to them, thanks to government regulation that has the main networks act in the public interest (of which airing long commercials for phone-a-psychics usually aren't part). Some Freeview channels such as Yesterday
show nothing else after normal programming has ended. it used to be said that the commercial break on British TV was the chance to go to the kitchen and make a brew. Well, if the AhhBra
monster is anything to go by, you can go to the kitchen, cook and eat a three course meal - with cheeseboard afterwards - and when you go back to the living room again, that irritating American woman still
hasn't finished shilling her wonder bra, along with suspiciously minimal post-production...
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