I was going to write at length about the NOM ad's poor production quality, dishonest use of bad actors ("I'm a California doctor who must choose between my faith and my job"), and third-rate script with unbelievable lines like "My freedom will be taken away" and "A rainbow coalition of people of every creed and color are coming together in love."
Fortunately, I found a treasure trove of parody ads that do a better job than I'll ever do of illustrating the ridiculousness of this biased enterprise. First, take a look at the original:
Now check out this excellent spoof from Wakeupworld.tv:
Here's one from famous faux right-winger Stephen Colbert:
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|The Colbert Coalition's Anti-Gay Marriage Ad|
Last but certainly not least is a clever one from D.U.N.G. that may save your marriage:
Which parody ad is your favorite? Add your comment below.
How many consumers will click "Start Your Free Trial" -- and never buy from another direct response advertiser again?
P.S. Forget the compliment I paid Dermitage in this post.
On this landing page, Dermitage displayed three tempting lines of offer-related text in a scroll box below "Free Trial Information." But check out some of the terms only visible via the scroll bar:
"... If you like how our system reduces the visible signs of skin aging, do nothing -- at the end of your free trial period you will be charged the discounted price of $99.95 ... Plus, if you decide to keep the Dermitage Anti-Aging System, you will receive FREE acceptance in Dermitage Elite and will receive a fresh supply of the Dermitage Anti-Aging System approximately every 30 days at the same low price of $99.95 ..."
Are buyers seeing these important details before committing to $1,199 on an annual basis? Well, the Better Business Bureau gave Dermitage a D+ rating. Biggest complaint area? Dermitage advertising. Most common gripe regarding advertising? You guess it -- disclosure of offer terms.
Now let's hear from two groups of experts: Direct marketing pros and Dermitage customers who've stepped through the online ordering process. Please add your comments.
Last year after seeing a Dermitage ad with arguably the most absurd "after/before" imagery ever, I published a post that pulled in more than 30 comments. The vast majority were less than favorable.
This week I found the Dermitage ad on the left. Okay, I'll give credit where it's due: At least the new "before" image didn't resemble a Komodo dragon. Instead of undergoing an inter-species transformation, this year's "customer" (who looks like last year's "customer") dropped a mere 30+ years from her face.
What bugs me most is the disclaimer in small print at the bottom: "Simulated imagery. Results not typical." In other words, Dermitage is saying their unbelievable imagery shouldn't be believed. They're actually telling people who take a close look that their advertising is bullshit.
This ad ran in Facebook tonight. My gut tells me I wasn't really the 10,000th visitor to a Facebook application (even though "10,000th" in blue was mighty convincing). But I could be wrong. Want to find out? Here's the web page that appears when I click the ad. If you follow it and there's actually a free 16 GB iPod touch at the end of the line, it's yours.
My prediction: From the barely readable disclaimer text at the bottom of the page, I'll bet it's one of those virtually endless co-registration offers aimed at the masses. If so, I'd wonder whether Facebook has any real ad approval process (see definition of false and misleading advertising). Either way, please shoot back a comment and let us know what happened. Thanks.
A Congressional committee is looking into Lipitor advertising featuring Robert Jarvik, inventor of the Jarvik 7 artificial heart.
One ad in question shows Dr. Jarvik rowing across a pristine lake. One problem: Jarvik doesn't row.
Jarvik, who isn't a cardiologist and isn't licensed to practice medicine, is nonetheless an enormously credible -- and relevant -- Lipitor pitchman. So why did the creators of the advertising resort to using a stunt double for the rowing scene?
According to The New York Times, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce "is looking into when and why Dr. Jarvik began taking Lipitor and whether the advertisements give the public a false impression." (The "why" part could be a big problem for Jarvik and Pfizer, but there's a good chance Jarvik, whose father died of heart disease at 62, began taking Lipitor for the right reasons.)
This much is certain: Robert Jarvik, who's presently seeking FDA approval for a revolutionary heart pump, doesn't need this.
What do you think?
After I laughed, I realized this was a totally serious attempt to turn consumers into unwitting providers of a monthly annuity. Like IQ Derma, the entity they're trying so hard to emulate, these characters are concealing an expensive negative option program within a "free trial" offer.
The similarities between the two direct response advertisers go beyond the absurd after/before images. They both hide the most important terms of the offer -- terms all consumers should see before requesting the trial.
In this case the buyer is led to believe she's getting the "Dermitage Anti-Aging System" free, paying just $6.95 postage and processing. But on the next page, in nine-point type hidden within a scroll bar that must be clicked to be read, the customer is told, "...if you decide to keep the Dermitàge Anti-Aging System, you will receive FREE acceptance in Dermitàge Elite and will receive a fresh supply of the Dermitàge Anti–Aging System approximately every 30 days at the same low price of $69.95..." Such a deal!
Wouldn't it be fascinating to have a Website usability expert see how many people actually see those words before submitting credit card information and pressing "Submit Order?"
What do you think?
Last October I published a post on the questionable business practices of an entity known as World Reserve Monetary Exchange. Some people in our field defended this Universal Syndications business unit and even applauded their direct marketing tactics.
Maybe they'll reconsider after viewing this YouTube video Freaking Marketing reader "American Psycho" recently discovered. It's a consumer investigation that shows how the ubiquitous marketer of "ballistic rolls" rolled a little old lady.
I'm reminded of the classic kids' movie Matilda. Matilda's father (Danny DeVito), owns a used car lot stocked with vehicles that fall apart shortly after unsuspecting buyers are handed the keys. Matilda (Mara Wilson) can't understand why her father rips off customers and asks, "Don't people need good cars?"
I can't understand why talented direct marketers would choose to write, art direct and manage this type of advertising, when they could be involved in totally above board stuff. Maybe the money's too good for some people to pass up.
What do you think?
The vast majority of direct marketers want happy customers who buy again and again, and yield what's known as high lifetime value.
Then there's that other type.
Look at this landing page from IQ Derma, with one of the wiliest before and afters you'll ever see. You may find yourself saying "No effen way" and wondering how they're able to depict such an impossible transformation without incurring the wrath of some governing body.
I'll tell you how. Take another peek at the photo and zoom in on the right-hand side where it says, "simulated imagery" in vertical type. They're actually saying it's bullshit!
But wait, there's more. Click the "CLICK HERE" button and fill in the required fields to reach the payment page. Notice the "FREE TRIAL" for as low as $3.95 with standard shipping. Great deal, don't ya think?
Before you click "Place Order," read the oh-so-fine print in 7 1/2 point type. Basically, if you don't return the product within 30 days, you pay the "discounted price" of $95.70 -- and because this is a negative option offer, they'll automatically ship you nearly a hundred bucks worth of miracle cream every 60 days until you say "STOP."
You may be wondering why IQ Cosmetics placed such critical terms near the bottom in tiny type. I'll take a stab at it: They were hoping you'd miss it. And apparently more than a few people did.
The Better Business Bureau said, "On September 24, 2007 we wrote to this company requesting they make modifications to their websites and pop-up ads to clearly and conspicuously disclose the terms and conditions of their free trial." You tell me if the owners, Intelligent Beauty, adequately addressed the problems.
To date, the BBB has received 42 complaints relating to Intelligent Beauty. In almost 100% of cases, they agreed to make a full refund or "perform according to their contract." But if a small fraction of buyers complained to the BBB, that's a lot of dissatisfied consumers.
Question for my direct marketing colleagues: Do you think this approach is misleading?