From the few Chinese infomercials we’ve seen, we can tell pretty much immediately that we’d never buy anything off the television in China (except for that breast enhancing bra, maybe?). Apparently we’re not the only ones who don’t like bad commercials that try to sell things to us: dissatisfaction with infomercial shopping is on the rise around China. Last year, 4,226 people in Shanghai called the police over bad deals, which marks an astronomical 30x increase in four years. And it’s getting more pronounced: authorities received over 3,000 complaints in the first quarter of this year.
Infomercial sales take up around 60% of all television retail, which we guess is the fancy name for the “selling things to people on their couch” industry. And coincidentally, it also takes up a majority of all illegal advertising.
From China Daily
In its last study, also in 2006, the China Consumers’ Association discovered infomercials made up 61 percent of all “illegal” advertising – when the products promoted are of poor quality – on 30 major television channels across China.
Media experts said supervision of advertising standards is inefficient as it falls under too many government departments, including the State Administration of Industry and Commerce, and State Administration of Radio, Television and Film.
The China Advertising Association publicly condemned 58 illegal infomercials on Sept 25 after an investigation by the State Administration of Industry and Commerce.
“It was the fifth time the association has spoken out against bad advertising since 2006. But “as an industry association, all we can do is monitor and speak out after illegal programs have been aired”, said Yang Hongsheng, vice-chairman of the association. “We cannot prevent commercials from being broadcast in the first place.”
Most of the programs mentioned in the latest notice were for products hosts claimed could cure illness, help people lose weight or remove scars. None of the advertisers were punished, despite the Law on Advertising stating that violators should face heavy fines.
A bit of advice to China: don’t bother developing the television retail industry. After having seen what it’s done to the obese and elderly in America, we bring nothing but warnings and dissuasion to the table. And we’re just curious as to how infomercials can be illegal and still aired, but we’ll let that one slide for now.