6 Stupid Infomercial Gimmicks That Have Taken Over Your Life

The Internet affords us so much history and knowledge, from digitized copies of the Magna Carta to digitized copies of Tijuana Bibles summarizing the Magna Carta. But you may have been too dazzled by the Internet's intellectual riches to notice that it's basically one big infomercial, rising phoenix-like from the ashes of cable TV, albeit with countless terabytes of arcane German erotica hanging from its plumage.

Yes, the Internet is a recreation of civilization's most brain-softening form of commercialism. Consider the following ...

#6. The "Glitch" Of Repetitious Ads Is Now Becoming A Tactic

Miralus Healthcare

Remember HeadOn? You applied it directly to the forehead. You applied it directly to the forehead. You applied it directly to the forehead.

Their ads were next-level dogshit and literally just said the same thing over and over again, but that didn't stop them from rolling in dough (until they were taken to task for insinuating that the tube of enigma they were shilling had medicinal properties, which it so didn't). There's something to be said for the power of repetition.

Click at your own risk. Click at your own risk. Click at your own risk.

Infomercials work as well as they do not because you legitimately love the Slap Chop guy's nuts, but because he says it so damn often you can't forget it. It's on every day at 4:00 a.m., when you're bleary-eyed, suggestible, and apt to confuse light bulbs for will-o'-the-wisps. It's also on right after Maury. It's always on. It never sleeps. It's the Samara of marketing.

Dreamworks Pictures
"In seven days, you will choke on my nuts."

The same concept has wormed its way into Internet advertising in a most insidious way. Nowadays, every Jack and Jane knows Internet advertising is big business, but they'll still play those same four shitty ads every time you want to watch a hilarious cat video, except now it's on purpose.

via YouTube
Three seconds until sweet, glorious freedom.

Your grandpa's advertisers are pretty confident that they understand TV. But with digital ads, it's less like shooting fish in a barrel and more like throwing barrels into the ocean. Who's streaming videos? How the hell do we know when it's being watched on a mobile device? Is there any return on investment? The result is companies willing to pay big money for their digital ads to be played again and again and again, and for them, that's awesome.

If the only ad you ever see online is for Subaru, you're either A) going to start believing you're a Subaru or B) break out in a mid-afternoon night terror any time a Subaru rolls by. Either way, Subaru is now your god. Eat Subaru's communion wafer. It is a tire.

#5. Kickstarter And Indiegogo Have The Same Shtick As Infomercials

Enormous Industries

When you think of sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, what comes to mind? Crowdfunded innovation? How about Billy Mays getting you to pay him to brew Orange Glo instead of simply selling it to you?

Sure, crowdfunding sites offer some really cool projects, but their basic framework is that of a glorified infomercial. Behold an amazing new thing, and -- for a limited time -- you can pay to have a piece! Act now and pay a little more, and you get all these extras! Plus, you can have porn open in the next browser tab! It's like you own two TV sets, one for discounts and one for Engorged Burgermeisters Of Stuttgart. Life is good!

Besides, it's not like infomercials and porn haven't crossed paths before.

Because crowdfunding sites are so clogged with starry-eyed dreamers, if you want to stand out, you need slick production values and kickass rewards for each level of campaign donations. Take the Duo Coffee Maker, which featured a video showing your average frat boy inventor trying to have coffee the traditional way and fucking it up worse than a Kanye West awards speech.

Notice the big red X? Coffee from a pot? What are you, some kind of gravel farmer from the Stone Age? It's a given now that -- beyond charitable causes -- you're only giving to a campaign if you get something awesome in return, and each level of donation has to escalate the awesomeness in proportion to your time and money. Now you don't need to call a 1-800 number; you simply donate online and wait for your Nazi hentai card game or whatever to roll in.

#4. In-App Purchases Are The New 1-900 Numbers


Remember when Lisa calls the 1-900-COREY number in The Simpsons and racks up all that money? That was a real hotline.

"For mere pennies a day, you can help supply these boys with the high-grade cocaine they so desperately need."

And despite what they say, no matter how many times you called, they never actually spoke to you themselves. No matter how much you begged and cried. Corey and Corey ignored you. For years. (Or at least, until you popped on some lingerie and joined Corey Feldman's pajama sex cult.) There were so many of these ads aimed at homunculi whose fingers were faster than their brains that it's a wonder we made it out of the '80s and '90s with any finances whatsoever.

"Welcome to the Crying Hotline. This call costs $400. Thank you for crying."

You'd just keep paying in small increments for a few minutes of entertainment -- which added up to huge amounts -- not unlike the way you do now with Candy Crush, or Kardashian Kibbles, or whatever other app that was totally free to download and totally fun for five minutes, until you realized you could have even MORE fun if you reverse-mortgaged your house for 378,034 Khloe Kardashian Kroners.

The only advertisement your money won't remove is the game itself.

Like the phone numbers of yore, these apps are marketing directly to kids whose phones are attached to their parents' accounts and credit cards. It's way easier to convince a kid to pay for virtual garbage than an adult, though it's not like adults were ever that difficult, either.

Have we learned nothing from paying Warrant for "warm, hard facts"
that were neither warm, nor hard, nor facts?

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Felix Clay

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