Some manufacturer, who wants you to buy their product.
Or some politician, who wants you to buy into their message.
Or some government department, that wants you to think a certain way.
I'm talking advertorials and infomercials, here.
An advertorial is an advertisement, presented in the form of an editorial.
In print, (newspaper, magazine, Web page) it is usually tailored to
resemble a legitimate and independent news story. Often, the
advertorial is designed to look just like the other articles which
appear in the publication. Subtle differences may be added, to meet
legal requirements - such as the inclusion of a disclaimer, like
"special promotional feature". Often in tiny print.
Infomercials are direct response television commercials, and often
include an associated phone number or website. They are also known as
paid programming, or teleshopping (in Europe).
Long-form infomercials range from 15 to 30 minutes in length, while
short-form infomercials are typically half a minute to 2 minutes long.
The practice of showing infomercials began in the US, where they were
often broadcast overnight (2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.), as an alternative
to signing off.
The term infomercial is now also used to refer to any presentation
giving out information intended to promote a specific point of view.
You Say Potato...
I say "King Edward's". Or "spud."
Different words. Same product. Different emphasis.
Depends on how you look at it.
On 9th January 2012, headlines emerged about a scientific study which
suggests that carbon dioxide emissions from global warming might
prevent or delay the onset of the next Ice Age, due in a few thousand
Here's how the British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph pounced on the good news.
In an article entitled "Carbon emissions to block next ice age", The
Telegraph interpreted the findings with such gems as:
"Carbon dioxide emissions will delay the arrival of the next ice age,
according to a new study.
Researchers from Cambridge University who examined variations in the
Earth's orbit and global climate patterns calculated that the next ice
age should begin within the next 1,500 years.
But the impact of carbon dioxide emissions on the environment means
that the global freeze which should be on its way will not be able to
take hold, they said."
"The temperate stretch in between global freezes can be longer or
shorter depending on a number of factors, but with the last ice age
having ended 11,600 years ago the arrival of another already appears
"Dr Luke Skinner, who led the new study with colleagues from University
College London, the University of Florida and Bergen University in
Norway, said: “From 8,000 years ago, as human civilisation flourished,
CO2 reversed its initial downward trend and drifted upwards,
accelerating sharply with the industrial revolution."
"The Global Warming Policy Foundation said the study demonstrated that
man-made carbon dioxide emissions were preventing a "global disaster".
The think tank, set up by Lord Lawson, cited a controversial theory
proposed by Sir Fred Hoyle and Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe in
1999 which said we "must look to a sustained greenhouse effect to
maintain the present advantageous world climate."
In the spirit of open-mindedness, the article did include this proviso:
"Dr Skinner told the BBC such an argument would be "missing the point"
that man-made climate change will heat the planet much more than
current temperatures, and that failing to slow the rate of carbon
emissions could have "huge consequences."
A view more in keeping with the tone of the research itself, as
originally reported on BBC television.
And then, there are the (product) promotions.
Some of which are... well. Terrible.
Or for products that don't actually work.
The Good Housekeeping website has a page dedicated entirely to a
review of non-performing infomercial products.
Many of which are just plain dumb.
Actually, that last video was a parody. But, still.
And, yes. I did spell that correctly. At least, in the current
context. When the advertorial goes adversarial.
I mean mud-slinging. Disrespect.
Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign set up an Obama Channel on satellite TV networks, to promote his views through a series of infomercial broadcasts. A week before the polls, Mr. Obama bought a 30-minute slot during primetime, on seven major networks - drawing a peak audience of some 33 million viewers.
Fast forward, to 2012.
With no clear front runner emerging for the Republican Party presidential nomination, the candidates have taken up the infomercial cudgel, in earnest. To beat each other over the head, with. So...
Newt Gingrich disses Mitt Romney:
Mitt Romney disses Newt Gingrich:
An ex-Romney aide disses Mitt Romney:
And so it goes on.
And on. And on. And...
All I'm saying is - what with election campaigns, sitting governments trying to sell painful austerity measures, and corporations looking to make a fast buck - you're likely to be seeing a lot of this advertorial / infomercial stuff.
And, when you do, you should take it all with a hefty pinch of salt. Saxa, preferably. Or a similar name brand.
I am a professional writer. It's how I make my living. So, if some wealthy client rolled up to me with a proposal to write an advertorial for them, I would seriously consider taking their money. Man's gotta eat, after all.
I'd have to check them out, first.
Let The Reader / Viewer Beware...
Keep an open mind, when you read or view this stuff. But, not TOO open.
And look into the background. Read around the subject.
Due diligence, they call it. That's what Google Search is for. Sorry.
I mean Yahoo! Search. Or Ask.com. Or...
And keep a firm grip on your wallet.
Now, go forth and be skeptical.