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Show and Tell: Product Demonstrations in Infomercials

Posted by Nicci | Posted in Other Stuff | Posted on 22-08-2012

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One of the hallmarks of a good infomercial is an effective product demonstration.  Most people, before they are willing to buy a product, want to see how it works.  If an item is sold in stores, consumers may  have a chance to actually hold the product, look it over, and see if it fits their needs.  For infomercial products, however, consumers are limited to a two-dimensional representation of the item shown on their television screen.  To show how a product works and to illustrate its effectiveness, television marketers harken back to the days of street vendors in using product demonstrations to entice potential buyers.

After all, a pitchman could tell you his knives are amazingly sharp, but unless you see them in action, you are just taking his word for it.  Once you see how it can slice through metal and still be sharp enough for razor thin tomato slices, you will be convinced.  Former pitchman king Billy Mays could tell you that Kaboom! cleaner was the toughest, most effective household cleaner available, but until he showed you what it could do with a bathtub that looked like a crime scene, you had no reason to believe him.

After all, seeing is believing.

Of course, “seeing is believing” is only relevant to producing sales if the product demonstration actually works.  One of the problems with earlier As Seen On TV product demonstrations was that they occurred live before a studio audience.  If the product failed, or if the pitchman failed to appropriately use the  product, the whole demonstration became a fiasco.  Take this example of a home shopping demonstration gone horribly wrong:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgHZe1hraEU

You can actually see when this demonstration starts to head south, and yet the plucky pitchman continues on, risking life and limb to prove that the ladder actually DOES lock into place.  And yet, it doesn’t.

Fortunately for today’s pitchmen, many informercials are filmed in advance of airing and bloopers can be edited out or segments retaped for the perfect pitch.

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