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Use of Infomercials to Promote Products, Services and Investments

An infomercial is a program-length radio or television commercial which run for 30 minutes or less and fits within normal broadcasting time slots.

Many infomercials have the look, feel, and length of real TV programs, often imitating the format of genuine talk shows or investigative consumer news programs. The product being sold may be discussed as part of the program and promoted by paid "experts," "moderators," or "reporters."  They also make extensive use of testimonials which you can never substantiate.

These "shows" may even be interrupted by realistic-looking "advertisements" for the product along with ordering information. Because of these similarities, you may find it difficult to tell the difference between an infomercial and an independent TV program.

The unnaturally happy and enthusiastic audience is paid to applaud and look dumbfounded as each new feature is revealed.

The types of products and services promoted and sold on infomercials has included:

blue bullet point easy ways to make money in real estate
blue bullet point getting low-interest government loans
blue bullet point "big money" business opportunities
blue bullet point program materials ( books, audio & video tapes, computer hardware and software)
blue bullet point diet miracles
blue bullet point exercise contraptions
blue bullet point hair treatments
blue bullet point kitchen utensils and devices
blue bullet point investments

Thanks For Appearing On Our Show

Two such commercials were promoted as "The Danny Bonaduce Show" and "A Closer Look." The Danny Bonaduce Show appeared to be a television talk show similar to "Late Night with David Letterman." The set consisted of a band playing off to the side, a live audience, and a back drop of city skyline silhouette. Danny Bonaduce performs a monologue before interviewing a guest who was actually a promoter of a Mega Systems, Inc. product.

A Closer Look purports to be a television talk show similar to "Larry King Live" with a set consisting of a similar desk. During the "guest" interviews they talk about the products' miraculous abilities.

They present directly, or by implication, that these commercials are independent television and radio programs and not the paid commercial advertising they really are.


Sable Hair Farming System

"So I found a combination of herbs, that, when mixed with cleansers like witch hazels and alcohols, can deep clean underneath the surface of the scalp, and clean out all the debris that blocks the hair from reaching the surface."

"And the amazing thing is that after we cleaned, we looked at the scalp and hair sprouted out." "Hair that's been growing under the scalp for five years sprouts out."

"I should be in most of the major medical journals in the next few months for finally ending baldness in the human race."

"Everyone should have all their hair back in six months to a year, permanently."

Despite such claims, Sable Hair Farming System will not stop, prevent, cure, relieve, reverse or reduce hair loss, nor will it promote the growth of hair where hair has already been lost.

continue QuickTour


Kevin Trudeau's Mega Memory System

"Every single person has a photographic memory right now lying dormant."

"One of the things about Mega Memory that's very unique is the fact that it takes only a few hours to learn the technology and when you do, you release that photographic memory ability."

"Can this work for people with learning disabilities, ADD, dyslexia, or head injuries?"

"These techniques were perfected with blind and retarded children back in the early 70's. Through research, we've found that everyone can improve their memory with this program except Alzheimer's patients."

In fact, the Mega Memory System will not enable users to achieve a photographic memory for it consists only of standard memory techniques. Scientific studies do not substantiate any of their claims.


Dr. Callahan's Addiction Breaking System

"While studying quantum physics Dr. Callahan came up with a breakthrough that in 60 seconds can eliminate your addictive urges, any type of compulsive behavior, and eliminate all the stress and anxiety in your body. Now this technique will take sixty seconds to apply and works virtually 100% of the time."

"The treatments that you discovered, that you invented get rid of addictions like food addictions so people can lose weight easily. They can just lose the weight because they reduce the urge to overeat. You can reduce smoking, alcoholism, any type of compulsion, depression, jealousy.

"That's right! If you have any addiction, whether it be for food, a smoking addiction, if your children are addicted to drugs —any compulsion, anything whatsoever, we recommend you call the 800 number"

Dr. Callahan's Addiction Breaking System does not cure addictions and compulsions, including smoking, eating and using alcohol or heroin. Indeed, Dr. Callahan's Addiction Breaking System simply consists of a video tape in which he demonstrates a series of tapping one's face, chest, and hand, rolling one's eyes, and humming.


How to Spot an Infomercial

There's nothing illegal about using infomercials to advertise products. But it's important to remember that product claims made on such programs are those of the advertiser. They are not objective or independent evaluations of the product. Here are some tips on how to spot a paid ad.

blue bullet point

Look for commercials similar to the program content. Infomercials promote products or services in "commercial breaks" that relate to issues discussed on the rest of the show. For example, a "program" about credit problems may discuss services that promise to repair a consumers poor credit rating or a program about sunglasses may sell sunglasses.

blue bullet point

As a general rule, assume that any "program" that provides ordering information for a specific product or contains commercial interruptions to promote products related to the "programs" content is a paid advertisement.

blue bullet point

Many legitimate television shows discuss and evaluate products and services. Sometimes, however, this format is used in infomercials that simulate the appearance of impartial evaluations of advertised items. For example, the product may be recommended by experts or celebrities but these people are often paid for their appearances. These techniques are just part of an overall sales pitch.

Don't buy an investment on the basis of a television "infomercial" or radio advertisement. Too many people mistakenly believe that just because a slick ad has been produced that there must be something to the product that is being sold.

Just because an ad for an investment airs on television or radio does not mean that it has been "cleared" or otherwise reviewed by some federal or state agency. And don't assume that a radio or television station has done anything to check out the claims made by the advertisers; most broadcasters take no responsibility for the accuracy of the ads they air.

The same is true for many investment-related radio talk show hosts, many of whom do not check out advertisers and may receive a payment for their personal endorsement.

Often infomercials are themselves promoted as an investment but legitimate industry members estimate that only one infomercial in thirty is successful in generating enough sales of the featured product to make any money for investors.

 

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Crimes of Persuasion ISBN 0968713300