Infomercials are television commercials that run as long as a typical television program (roughly thirty minutes or an hour). Infomercials, also known as paid programming, are normally shown outside of peak hours, such as late at night or early in the morning. The word infomercial is a portmanteau which is formed by combining "information" and "commercial". As in any other form of advertisement, the content is a commercial message designed to represent the viewpoints and serve the interest of the sponsor.
An infomercial is designed to solicit a direct response which is specific and quantifiable. The delivery of the response is direct between the viewer and the advertiser. Normally commercials do not solict a direct response from the viewer, but instead try to brand their product in the market place.
Infomercials may make use of flashy catchphrases, repetition of basic ideas, and the use of esteemed scientist-like characters or celebrities. Well known infomercial personalities include: Cher, George Foreman (with the George Foreman Grill), Mike Levey, Ron Popeil, and Tony Robbins.
Because of the nature of infomericals, consumer advocates recommend carefully investigation of the claims made on infomercials, including the company behind the product, before purchasing the featured products.
Infomercials proliferated in the United States after 1984 when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) eliminated regulations, which were established in the 1950s and 1960s, on the commercial content of television.
On occasion infomercials have been used for election campaigns. Most notably was that of former President of the United States candidate, Ross Perot, when he introducted his 1996 candidacy with running mate, Pat Choate, using an infomercial.
- Federal Communications Commission home page (http://www.fcc.gov/)
- National Association of Consumer Advocates home page (http://www.naca.net/)
See also: Commercials, Advertisement, Marketing