Those Wonderful TV Infomercials
Phil Kaplan reveals the inside story on fitness products sold
television allows a great many uninvited guests into your
home. Many of those on-screen guests pay a lot of money
to visit you, and some of them have learned that the formula
that gets you and others like you to respond has little to
do with truth.
Fitness Quest was fined by the FTC for making misleading
claims. They continue to come out with and sell fitness
related products via TV infomercials and the home shopping
channels. Enforma, the company that sells the Fat Trapper
and Exercise in a Bottle was also fined to the tune of several
million dollars. The amazing thing is, these shows prosper!
The business is massive. The companies spend $30,000
or more creating a produced TV show. It's actually a
26-minute long television commercial. They recruit some
credential such as a doctor or certified trainer as well as
a celebrity or pitch person and they have copywriters do a
very effective job of intertwining information and sales pitch.
They set up call centers with scores, perhaps hundreds of
telephone operators, all with scripts on their computer screens,
and they purchase remnant air time on local and regional TV
stations throughout the country. The shows air, the
phones ring, credit cards are billed, and the millions pour
The infomercials have a paradigm, a formula. They always
introduce some "new miraculous discover" and they
send out the message, "it's quick, it's easy, it works
like magic." Forget about reality. Infomercials
are not about reality. They're about selling products.
They feature 7 minute informational segments followed by a
hard hitting "Call To Action." There's always
a "special offer," a "limited time opportunity,"
and a special EXTRA if you "buy now."
I've been there. I've not only sat in on the meetings,
I've been the "talent." The whole process
went against my grain. I'm about ethics, they're about
selling. I'm about delivering information, they're about
getting people to act to purchase products. I'm
about value, they're about altering perception.
Steve Garvey, Suzanne Sommers, Tony Little, and other infomercial
regulars have found a nice vehicle for generating income.
They receive royalties based upon sales. Next time you
see an infomercial and feel inclined to ask, "Does It
Work?," the answer is yes! Oh . . . wait . . .
in all likelihood the product doesn't "work."
It's probable that the claims are greatly exaggerated.
What works is . . . the infomercial! It's a money maker
or you wouldn't be watching it. It wouldn't be airing.
Next time you're tempted to buy a "new fitness miracle"
from an infomercial, I'd advise you to give half the money
you were about to waste to charity, and put the other half
in an interest bearing account. You'll thank me some
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