State University of New York at Oswego, USA

DOI: 10.1002/9781118989463.wbeccs148

An infomercial is a program-length commercial, designed to resemble regular television programming, that informs or instructs and may often include a discussion or demonstration of specific products, or a product line, to an audience. It is the combining of the two words “information” and “commercial” that leads to the term “infomercial.” An infomercial is an extended advertisement designed to encourage people to consume commercial products or services via a demonstrative and controlled environment. Infomercials often involve testimonials from celebrities, or ordinary folks, who claim to have used the product and enjoyed highly positive results. Infomercials are characteristically accompanied by marketing sales pitches, such as: “But wait ... There's more!” and “Call right now and we'll double your order at no extra cost!”

In the earliest days of television, commercial companies created their own shows so that they would have a medium through which to promote their goods and services. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) eventually got involved and placed limits on how much advertising can take place on any given show. Among the earliest versions of an infomercial in the United States was the advertising of Ginsu steak knives, which were promoted as being capable of cutting through anything. The first full-length infomercial in the United States aired in the 1970s ...

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