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The IMS Top 50 Infomercials and Short-Form Spots of 2009

10 Dec, 2009 By: Robert Hoffman, Peter Zalla, Jennifer Muniz, IMS Response

Once again, Response Magazine is proud to present one of its most popular annual features. For the eighth consecutive year, Infomercial Monitoring Service Inc. (IMS) has provided its ranking of the top 50 infomercials and short-form spots.

While short form’s influence within the direct response market continues to expand, the long-form infomercial continues to enjoy a powerful role in the TV advertising space, led by yet another boom in fitness and household products. Meanwhile, a number of financial products and services had extensive success in the short-form space, joining more traditional $19.99 products to create another successful year.

The rankings provided by IMS are based solely upon the frequency of programs aired on cable networks monitored by IMS from Nov. 1, 2008 through Oct. 31, 2009.

A Year of Growth and Sadness
By Robert Hoffman

This was 2009: a year of record-high unemployment and record-low consumer confidence, and a year when more Americans than ever stayed home and turned to the Internet and television sets to satisfy many of their shopping needs. Not only was direct response television declared one of the few bright spots in the American economy by mainstream media, but the industry also was suddenly accepted into the mainstream of American culture as industry pitchmen, movers and shakers became the subject of reality television shows, news documentaries and business reports. Alas, with the death of a friend, partner and colleague to so many of us — Billy Mays — we all realized how much the marketing medium we’ve created could touch the emotions of our audience.

In its hour-long news documentary “As Seen On TV,” CNBC declared DRTV to be a $150 billion a year industry. Using research in part provided by Infomercial Monitoring Service (IMS), CNBC‘s Emmy-nominated sports business reporter Darren Rovell was able to provide the business community facts and figures about the big business of direct response that has helped make OxiClean, the Snuggie, ShamWow and the Ginsu Knife household names.

This also was the year that Kevin Harrington, CEO of, ended up on the other side of the camera. As one of the direct response industry’s founding pioneers and a great judge of product, Harrington has taken on a role similar to the likes of Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan and Len Goodman as one of the four sharks on the hit ABC-TV show “Shark Tank.”

The Discovery Channel, which has directly benefited from two decades of infomercial broadcasting, six-hours-per-night, 365-daysa- year, turned its reality TV cameras to the DRTV industry in 2009 with a 12-episode series that featured the late Mays and his business partner, Anthony Sullivan. The show, “Pitchmen,” took viewers behind the curtain as Mays and Sullivan helped everyday men and women bring their hopes, dreams and inventions to the masses.

As 2009 draws to a close, we pause again to remember a friend and colleague whose mighty power of persuasion, jovial demeanor and booming voice still echoes across the airwaves. Mays’ tragic death at the age of 50 reminds us how fleeting fame and success in life, and especially our industry, can be. At IMS, we can predict with absolute certainty that next year we’ll see around 500 new infomercials and 1,200 new spots, but we have no idea when or if we’ll ever see or hear the likes of Billy Mays again.

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