Friday, December 19, 2014

A Look at Make-Up Infomercials

Using a variety of female celebrities, infomercial producers have once again created a huge market where none existed. That’s not to say that make up products didn’t exist. They did. And they were a multibillion dollar industry long before anybody ever thought of infomercials.

Starting in the early twentieth century with the advent of movies and their subsequent side affect – beautiful stars! – make up companies have been designing products to make average looking women look better. Or at least think they look better. Make up has been a staple of upscale department stores and high priced boutiques right from the very beginning of the retail business. Even in the early days, make up products had their own departments. Salesgirls were hired who exhibited a youthful, sparkling appearance. They would grab women by the hand, lead them to the sales counter, apply a bit of this, a dab of that and a puff of something else for free and then make the sale. Early products were marketed in the usual manner – for their value in improving your appearance and their price.

The first make up celebrities in the pre-infomercial era were not the stars that women were trying to emulate but the heads of the Hollywood make up departments who made the stars look so glamorous. And so the likes of Max Factor, make up master to countless female celebrities (and men too, by the way) and the most successful line of make up products were born. Later on the celebrities themselves, sensing a huge cash return for the use of their face, put themselves on various lines of make up products available in stores. When their looks faded, when their careers stopped humming along, the make up products disappeared as well.

And then came infomercials. All of a sudden there was a way to get women interested in buying make up products over their TV sets and was it ever successful! Sensing right from the outset that the products had to be celebrity driven, producers came up with a way to market their products to women all over the world via the TV set. Faded and fading stars from the music business, movie business and TV business jumped on the bandwagon to sell make up and other beauty supplies to American women by the truckload. Here’s the hook that they used: the make up infomercial and the products were not completely celebrity driven. The celebrity was merely there to endorse the products supposedly used on her over the years to keep her looking younger and more beautiful. But the product itself was created by, bore the name of and was demonstrated by the make up artist who had labored for years applying make up to countless beautiful celebrities. The make up artist was not a beauty herself but a “regular” woman who merely worked on celebrities. Hence, the housewife watching in Des Moines, or Chicago or anywhere was not made to feel ugly or less than glamorous.

In fact the celebrity was usually somewhat demeaned on make up infomercials as they would often appear on the show without any make up on. You would be channel surfing and a close up shot of a celebrity you know would appear on the screen and you’d stop, you’d notice she didn’t look so good. You’d wonder what happened and you’d start watching the infomercial. And you’d hear her talking endlessly about how her appearance, her look, her beauty was predominately the successful work of the artist and her line of amazing products while the artist was applying make up to her face and transforming her right before your very eyes.

And furthermore, YOU!, Miss American Average Woman, could have these same products that celebrities have been using for years to make movie magic happen, the secret stuff known only to Hollywood insiders, delivered right to your door in a few days for the low, low price of…well you get the idea. What a concept! Don’t get the beautiful celebrity, with the face of an angel, to sell the product. Have the average looking make up artist sell the product while the beautiful celebrity is transformed from average looking to gorgeous right before your eyes! And of course, the celebrity was an equal or even majority partner in the profits from the line, picking up millions along the way for a days work, sitting in a comfortable chair, in air conditioned splendor, having make up applied to their faces. As the man said – Only in America!

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