We all have our favorite infomercials to watch. Whether they're the old overly-enthusiastic Oxi-Clean ads from the late Billy Mays or the Sham-Wow/SlapChop guy, or they're the newer ads for Flex Seal and Flex Tape or even just some greatly dramatized commercial sporting a product you may find completely useless but entertaining, infomercials are a great piece of our culture that everyone loves to poke fun at.
There are hundreds of videos on YouTube of infomercials or people reacting to them, families bring them up in conversation, they make their way into memes on Twitter, and there's even a subreddit with a large following, r/WhereDidTheSodaGo, dedicated to coming up with humorous captions to odd GIFs taken from different infomercials.
While this is all innocent fun, this melodrama serves an important purpose, as do many of the products you may label as "ridiculous", "lazy", "unnecessary", or any other negative adjective. That purpose is to help people with various disabilities.
While not all infomercial products are aimed at those with disabilities, and some are new products created for general convenience or a fresh style of advertising for a long-existing product, the majority of these products are. The reason the style of commercials is so loud is to make sure they're heard, and the reason they show people completely and royally screwing up common tasks is to help show exactly what purpose the product being advertised serves.
The melodrama, strange camera filters, and unrealistic sets and scenarios are all a product of both keeping things low-budget and of making sure the commercials stand out and get people to pay attention. Even if people make fun of the ads and spread them around, it still gets the product's name out there to those who would actually buy or need it.
Everything about the products and the commercials is aimed at affordability, a unique flavor of advertisement, and accessibility.
The goal for many of these products is not to make a lot of money, but rather to sell to people who could really use the product, as a result, once they end up in local supermarkets, many of these commercials air much less frequently rather than more often as one would expect.
Once people with various disabilities no longer have to buy necessary or convenient products through a phone number on their television, an infomercial has successfully served its purpose of making the world a little easier for them and accessibility a little more common for all.
There is much to criticize about the way that infomercials advertise these products, but there may be many reasons that they keep it the way it is. While it would be nice for them to be higher-budgeted or at least less cheesy, they stand out more because they're so cheesy.
It would make more sense to have someone from their target audience starring in the commercial and using the product, rather than random actors with no disabilities making huge messes and messing up menial tasks, and it seems like a huge oversight in terms of representation, but perhaps the current approach allows for a wider audience to buy the product without feeling like it isn't meant for them, or allows for those who need the product for whatever reason to buy it discreetly or without making their need for it obvious.
The biggest criticism for many of these infomercials is that they're living in a dated world by only advertising on t.v. and by only or mostly selling through phone calls, while many of their potential buyers may be older, there's still no real excuse to not buy some web advertisements or at the very least have a smoothly-designed, accessible website in the modern era.
Infomercials are a wonderful thing for so many reasons and such an important piece of modern culture. They serve multiple purposes, provide fascination and entertainment to many, advertise multi-function products, and encourage or provide accessibility to many peoples' lives.
While you may see every infomercial product as cheesy or lazy at first, take some time to analyze what the product actually does and what purposes it may serve for people from all different backgrounds. You'll find that with infomercials, much the same as with people, you can't properly judge a book by its cover, because there's always much more depth beneath the surface.