The Most Important Awards Ever: ERA Names the Best Infomercials of 2006

Believe it or not there are actually annual awards for best infomercial. And these aren’t ironic awards for the “best” infomercial either—these honors are meant to be taken seriously. The Electronic Retailing Association (ERA), a trade organization for the infomercial industry, even holds a gala ceremony each September at which they hand out these prizes.

Talk about your dumb ideas! I can understand why those involved in “regular” advertising need awards. Most ads are created by frustrated artist types in Manhattan. These people know nothing about selling and consequently their ads do almost nothing to actually sell whatever product they are advertising. (Those Planet in Need commercials in which space aliens bring Da’iry back to the home planet have entertained many, but they have not caused many people to drink a drop more of milk.) So to justify their existence to themselves and to the corporate executives who shovel lots of shareholder money their way, these advertising professionals have to give themselves “prestigious” awards like the Clio.

Infomercials, on the other hand, are direct response advertising. They know within a half-hour of the program being aired whether it is successful or not. If an infomercial doesn’t pull in an adequate number of sales, it is quickly scrapped or retooled. You would think that the money generated by successful infomercials would be reward enough for their creators.

But of course it isn’t.

The guys who market Ginsu knives and the like resent the Madision Avenue elites looking down on them. So now when an ad snob pulls out his Clio, someone who produces infomercials for ab exercise gadgets can pull out his ERA award and call it even.

The ERA awards have several categories, each with several nominees, just like the Oscars. The infomercial for Proactiv Solution seemed to be the Titanic of the 2006 awards, sweeping the prizes for both Best Long Form infomercial and Best Short Form infomercial.

Another interesting category was “Best Celebrity Presenter.” And the nominees are…

Brooke Burke for Core Secrets

Daisy Fuentes for Winsor Pilates

Regis Philbin for Dean Martin Variety

Jane Seymour for Natural Advantage

And the winner is…Daisy Fuentes for Winsor Pilates

The infomercial universe being honored here seems fairly small. The same few production companies dominate the list of nominees: Guthy-Renker, Script to Screen, Modern Media, Hawthorne Direct. But the clearest example of this comes in the “Best Male Presenter” category. There are five nominations listed: two of which went to Jake “Body by Jake” Steinfeld (Hip & Thigh Sculptor, Ab Scissor Ultra) and two of which went to David Oreck (Oreck XL Professional Air Purifier, Oreck Celoc Hypo-Allergenic Plus Vacuum). The award went to Jake Steinfeld for the Body by Jake Hip & Thigh Sculptor. And I think everyone can agree that Steinfeld’s superb work in the Hip & Thigh Sculptor infomercial was far superior to his half-assed performance in the Ab Scissor Ultra infomercial.

As for myself, I boycotted this year’s ERA awards ceremony in protest that Klee Irwin and the Dual Action Cleanse infomercial were snubbed. It’s an outrage I tell you. An outrage!


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