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 ...
The "Glitch" Of Repetitious Ads Is Now Becoming A Tactic
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.
"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.
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.
Kickstarter And Indiegogo Have The Same Shtick As Infomercials
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.
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?
"Act Now, While Supplies Last!" Is Something You See On Amazon All The Time
Baron von Internet wants your money, and that's a stone-cold fact. Every site in his web of deception is designed to purloin your loots. The problem, of course, is that most of us are savvy enough these days to not log onto CrabJammers.com and order a crate of golden anchors. So the Internet has to treat us like money-drunk halfwits, much in the same way the Shopping Channel does. You are burdened with shekels, but they can't offer you these awesome deals 24/7. You must act fast! Or else!
"Anything unsold will be used to crush your grandma!"
Limited-time offers seem like the purview of daytime TV commercials for bamboo pillows or insurance from Alex Trebek, but take a look at your average Amazon.com page these days. Is Zombeavers available for a mere $14.99? It is! But, if you order within 18 hours, you can get one-day shipping, and with Amazon Prime, you'll only pay $9.99! Act now, or forever be scorned by pious women, friendly dogs, and the hosts of Heaven, including seraphim, cherubim, and all the rest of those fuckers!
The limited-time offer, the special pricing for members only, the stock that's almost running out -- they're all designed to convince you that NOT BUYING THIS PRODUCT makes you a fucking fool. There will never be a better time than the present to get that flatbed's worth of pickled corn -- it's 10 percent off for people whose last names contain vowels or consonants!
It was $29.98, but in this special offer, you can get it for $26.50. Buy now! Supplies of this major motion picture are idiotically limited!
Getting Chummy With Brands Is Way Older Than You Think
Because of social media marketing, you can now sext a Fig Newton. If you broadcast your preference for a particular toilet paper by liking their Facebook page, they'll hook you up with a $0.25 coupon on your next purchase of a Bluetooth chamber pot. Follow McDonald's boring-as-shit Twitter account, and you can relentlessly tweet at them how your best friend is an Arch Deluxe that's been moldering in your crawl space since 1995.
And there's a magically stupid precedent to the practice of treating soulless corporate entities like your old Little League buddies on Facebook who you haven't seen in years (because they held up a concession stand with baseball bats). Back in 1996, PepsiCo offered kids a Motorola pager for only $35 and 10 proofs of purchase. The kiddies subscribed to the paging service themselves, and then some sad-sack PepsiCo robot paged them on a regular basis and left Mountain-Dew-themed messages of intense '90s gnarly awesomeness. Or carbonation sounds. Probably carbonation sounds.
"It distracts you. You land headfirst. You die. Drink Dew."
So yeah, they took a social interaction tool and jammed it to the gills with advertisements. They Zuckerberged their customer base before the Facebook czar could fit into his fuck-you flip-flops.
Unboxing Videos Are The Price Is Right, But Shitty
You ever watch The Price Is Right? Of course you do -- it's the biggest upshot to being home sick ever. For years, Bob Barker, and then later the corpse of Drew Carey's shadow, have hosted this show where all that happens is strangers getting stuff for free or failing to get stuff for free. There's minimal skill involved, at best it's guesswork, and for some fucking reason everyone loves it. Hell, Plinko is probably the most popular game, and it takes no skill at all. It takes gravity, that thing that exists all the time, whether you're there to enjoy it or not.
For the average American, climbing all those stairs is the game's greatest challenge.
Why do we love shows like The Price Is Right, or crazily outdated old shows like Shop 'Til You Drop and Supermarket Sweep? Why does civilization devote airtime to things like this?
Besides, watching people drop is way more fun than watching them shop.
Because we love to watch people getting stuff. The vicarious thrill of seeing anyone anywhere get something new or become enriched in some way is like an inexplicable fetish that crosses cultural, gender, and age gaps, like a bacterial infection shared amongst swingers at a Fourth of July nude getaway.
And how did the Internet refine this? Unboxing videos. Good Lord, the unboxing videos. Dozens upon hundreds of videos of people opening up a box to show you exactly what you knew was in the box before they opened it. The new iPhone, the new iPad, the new Loot Crate, the new Xbox, who gives a shit what it is -- if it comes in a box, let's film it. Real go-getters will then proceed to Price Is Right model the product and talk in excruciating detail about how shiny or smooth or not-on-fire it is.
Staring at hands grasping unaffordable objects! Your favorite show!
If the idea of this is stupid to you, or you think it's not a big deal, go peruse YouTube for unboxing videos and sort them by view count. Those are in the tens of millions there. There are multiple videos with over 50 million views. Videos that show people opening things to see what's inside. Bob Barker is nowhere to be seen. These are the last days of Rome.
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Also check out 6 Famous Companies You Had No Clue Were Dying and 8 Stupid Amazon Products With Impressively Sarcastic Reviews.