Those Wonderful TV Infomercials

Fitness Expert Phil Kaplan reveals the inside story on fitness products sold through infomercials

Your 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 in.

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 day.

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