I was reminiscing the other day with a friend of mine about infomercials. Not the infomercials we have these days (as silly as they are), but the infomercials in the mid-1990's when they were in their hayday. I was in university at the time and I could spend a glorious night watching infomercial after infomercial just to see what they could come up with next -- and boy did they come up with a bunch of them!
The formula for these informercials haven't changed, though. Even when you bump into an informercial on tv today, the formula is exactly the same:
Man with loud, annoying voice with an English or Australian accent announces an astounding breakthrough of epic proportions. This breakthrough has actually been used in some "exotic" European country for years (usually Sweden) and is only now available in North America.
Show the product and use it in an astounding way:
Example 1: A knife that cuts through the wing of an airplane.
Example 2: A detergent that cleans up blood and brain matter off of a carpet.
Example 3: A car covered with a special wax is set on fire, then dropped off a 10-story building. Yes, it's dented, but boy is it ever shiny!
Show how inferior the old product was by giving it to someone who's totally inept.
Example 1: A woman walks in carrying a mop and a bucket of water. The water is sloshing all over the floor. She slips on the water. The mop goes one way breaking through a glass window. The water spills all over the floor short circuiting the fridge. She shakes her head shameful mouthing "Oh darn!"
Example 2: Woman tries to slice some bread and cannot at all, squishing the bread entirely. She shakes her first at the knife in frustration. Granted, she was using a butter knife...
Example 3: A woman (notice it's always women?) tries to cook spaghetti...in a pot of boiling water *gasp*! She fails miserably. The boiling water spills out of the pot and when she tries to dump it into a strainer, the spaghetti misses the strainer entirely spilling all over the floor. Then she reaches for a mop...
The product is demonstrated by a product expert. Usually this is someone the creator of the product since no one else has ever used the product before. The host of the show is humbled by how easy the product is and how even he can use such a simple product.
A video montage is shown with "interviews" of various product users. Typically these are older people who swear how their lives have changed since they got the new "Super Blade" and they can't imagine living their lives without one.
The video then continues to demonstrate the product. It includes a reference from someone in a white lab coat explaining the product uses "space-age" technology (though it's never been used in space...and didn't the space age begin in the 1960's?).
Example 1: A person uses the product to easily cut through brick -- cutting a new door for their house.
Example 2: In a matter of minutes, a woman has created a 20 litre bowl of salad using the "Veggie-slice" that'll chop, slice, dice and mince -- all at the same time.
Example 3: To demonstrate the strength of the product, the product is repeatedly runner-over, banged with a hammer, and blown up. Typically the product will never experience any of these scenarios.
How much does it cost? A comparable product is shown for thousands of dollars in an exclusive magazine. That version of the product is made of solid gold.
Luckily, this version of the product doesn't cost $200 or $190, or $180, or $170, or...the countdown continues for about 2 minutes until it reaches $150. But it doesn't cost $150. It's actually 3 easy payments of $49.99 (in other words $149.97).
The annoying announcer then explains if you order within the next 24 hours, they'll double your order, because you have two hands, so you can use each knife in one hand. They also offer a handy carrying case (a plastic bag), and a book of recipes -- even if the product has nothing to do with cooking.
They also throw in a DVD demonstrating the product (a copy of the infomercial) with the same annoying announcer and product creator.
Shipping and handling charges cost an additional $150 even though the product can fit in a small box.