Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Infomercials Make Me Wish I Was Rich

I sat for hours searching through channels for commercials to do research for this post. That's how much I love you, nonexistent readers.

Today I realized how much those stupid product commercials make me want them.

I have a love/hate relationship with these commercials: on one hand, I really love seeing all the cool things people come up with. On the other hand, I hate how many times they're repeated, the cliches you see in all of them (I'll get to that), and how much they make me want to waste money on them.

In most of these commercials, some housewife or kids are trying frustratedly to use the old product, usually unsuccessfully, like trying to fit a cube in a circular hole. They throw the old product down and sigh dramatically, running their hands through their hair.
You cut, rip, and tear! But your brownies never turn out square!Their old brownie trays are the bane of their existence! Those old markers make every day drab and unexciting! These frustration segments are nearly always shown in black and white, while the announcer says, "Tired of ___? About had it with _____?" Then the black and white is slashed through with a big red "NO" sign like on no smoking signs, or a giant red x.
Those Bluetooth headsets are so complicated and uncomfortable!The cheerful announcer then says gleefully, "Try ____! Your life will never be the same again!" And the same poor, tired, and frustrated people are shown using the new product, which makes them instantly happy and content with their families, puts them on good terms with their children/parents, and gives them sudden popularity because hey! Who wouldn't want to be around someone with that product?

Perfect Brownie- As Seen on TV!Unfortunate photos of a young man with an acne problem are shown, with the guy giving a voice-over about how he didn't even have the confidence to talk to anyone. But now he's tried the new acne stuff and has skin as smooth as a baby angel, and he is shown with multitudes of laughing girls who look genuinely interested but really still just want the poor guy to do their homework, as evidenced by the open textbooks on the table.

This is how nearly all infomercial-format product commercials work. You will be popular, beautiful, have harmonious relationships, and just be generally awesome, all thanks to this product, and for only $39.99! But wait--they'll double it FREE! You only pay ($10 extra) shipping and handling!

Because one tripping hazard isn't enough.Despite how ridiculous these ads are, sometimes I find myself really wanting whatever they're showing, but then I remind myself that nothing could possibly work as well as it does on television.

Now, some of these products look great. For example, those space bags that store all your clothes, and then you press/vacuum the air out of them. That's really freaking useful. I would actually be able to get the laundry basket of clean clothes out of my room if I could put the clothes in my drawers without rolling everything up like I'm going on a camping trip. But I bet they rip really easily. Then that guy who dumps the contents of a waterlogged canoe on his Space Bags won't be too happy that his Microfleece sweater is now covered in muddy water. And I can't help but chuckle at their little whispered disclaimers-- "Results may vary." Why even bother then? We want to be exactly like the people on the commercial, and we're not interested in variation of results of any kind!

Space Bags! Results may vary.You can also expect that the deal on television is MUCH better than the one in a catalog, or the price of "similar products". Look at that huge, unattractive number on the screen! Then it is crossed out, and lo and behold--THIS product costs at least $10 less! Of course, I'm a little confused why a toy helicopter would cost over $100 in the first place, but if you can get it for half that, great! And in 2 easy payments (why aren't they ever difficult?), too!

I also love the names they come up with. They usually have "-Mate," "-Buddy," or "-Pal" as a suffix, or similar friendly-sounding names. For workout products, you can expect more powerful and masculine suffixes like "-Master" or some such.

You can also expect that these products, no matter how simple they are, have some kind of "patented technology," and they will explain it to you, accompanied by a diagram. Then they try to use some large words to make it sound scientific, which leads to humorous results when you understand all the words and realize how ridiculous it sounds. They will tell you that they promise that if you aren't impressed with their superior technology, you can send it back free (but you still have to pay postage and handling).

Anatomically designed? Gee, that sounds great!
There will also be testimonials, sometimes from celebrities that may seem vaguely familiar. "It really works!" they will insist.
Oh, thanks for pointing that out. I don't think I would've seen  that onion skin otherwise.And of course, you can't forget the fun, exciting, and often very outdated music.

But above all, these commercials are great for entertainment. See how many times they claim a cleaning product works instantly, and yet they cut from the before to after clips. Why do they need a time lapse again? And see how many times they show unrealistically stained or ripped surfaces for the product to fix. It's really funny when you can pick out all the sad attempts at making the products look better than they really are, and it's great to laugh when they say, "only 3 easy payments of $29.99!"

Despite myself, sometimes I really wish I could just waste money on these things just to see if my life was made more awesome. And like I said, they're great entertainment.

So I'll keep watching these product commercials, and if I laugh hard enough at them, maybe I won't want the products so much.

P.S.- Those new tampon commercials that make fun of tampon commercials are pure genius by the way. If you haven't seen them, look for them on YouTube or somewhere.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, infomercials....
    Don't forget the fact that the people using the old, "outdated" product are also using the old product like a spaz, and not the correct way. THERE'S YOUR PROBLEM.
    Two products to comment on-
    One- Spacebags, or whatever generic version of them that we have, really do work. We use them on vacation and they really do get stuff that small, it's awesome.
    Two- My mom often goes out and buys "as seen on tv" products if she finds them onsale...the most memorable of these is that magic spaghetti cooker that is a plastic tube that you fill with boiling water. It really works, and as quickly as they said, BUT the noodles taste TERRIBLE.