Will Obama’s Infomercial s Lead to an
Evolution in Political Direct Response?
By Elizabeth A. Kline
The evolution of the infomercial is not
that much unlike the evolution of
man. You have a product or service
to sell. You have 28 minutes and 30
seconds allotted to pitching the product to the
public, and a toll-free number or Web address
that directly links the buyer to said merchandise.
With limited and ever more costly media time
making every second of a given show count, applying the key evolution lesson — survival of the
fittest — to the cutthroat world of infomercials
There are marketing directors and media
buyers learning the ideal channels in correlation with the product and its targeted audience.
There are hosts and voiceover artists reading
scripts rich in proven and successful tag lines
that draw buyers to their phones. And there are
operators on the other line offering upsells that
are too good to refuse. Add adaptation to the
environment to the equation and you find that
there are times when infomercials must shed
their primitive skin and find their niche in new
On August 10, politics became such a
market, with the initial airing of the “Obama
for America” infomercial on Ion Media Networks
outlets around the nation. Television viewers are
more than familiar with the political mudslinging that pollutes the airwaves right up until
Election Day. And it’s not just limited to TV.
It’s on the radio, the Internet, personal E-mails
between friends and family, newspapers, magazines, signs in people’s yards.
The incessant finger pointing, the ritualistic
blame game, and the unceasing he-said/she-said bickering reaches a point where educated,
grown men seem no better than two kids in a
school yard sticking their tongues out at each
other. Where is the integrity?
Perhaps a right step was taken with the
production of “Obama for America.” It was an
opportunity to introduce now-President-elect
Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential
candidate. It was also a chance for the public
to get to know him on a quasi-personal level,
to gain perspective regarding his quality of
character and to learn about his political career.
What America got was a 30-minute education
on a presidential hopeful, rather than a personal
attack on the opposing party’s candidate.
On October 29, less than a week until Election Day, Obama aired his second infomercial on
seven national broadcast and cable networks.
In this show, he introduced America to several
people who shared their stories of struggle in
tough economic times yet remained hopeful for
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