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Manipulative Marketing Corner: "I Have the Hair of a Teenager Again! Thank you!"

Manipulative Marketing Corner: "I Have the Hair of a Teenager Again! Thank you!"

November 22, 2009

Previous dilemma:

'I have the hair of a teenager again! Thank you!'

Notice: These testimonials do not prove our product works. You should not expect to have similar results.

Many marketers choose to use results that are quite dramatic. In this case, the person claims he was able to grow new hair using a hair restoration product. Since it's not typical, the company included the disclaimer to say not everyone experiences the same results and that it's not proven to work. Is that good enough?


My response: Ads like this one may be considered deceptive as of Dec. 1 according to the FTC's new advertising rule. Here's the bottom line: Simply adding the disclosure above no longer protects the advertiser. So the advertiser must either not use the testimonial or provide 'competent and reliable scientific evidence that its product is effective in producing new hair growth,' according to the FTC.

This ad would likely be considered deceptive unless the advertiser can prove new users typically experience similar results

Creative or Deceptive? You decide ...

The desire to increase sales often leads us into some very gray areas where there doesn't always seem to be a clear right or wrong answer. I tackle a dilemma each month and then I want to hear what you would do. Send your comments to me at JonGoldman@BrandLauncher.com. Then, next month I will give you my take on whether it was creative or deceptive.

Here's an offer that has been proven to increase response rates 10%-20% but the question is whether it's deceptive.

You may have even seen a few of these offers. It's called a Fast Reply Bonus. Respond to an offer in the next 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days or whatever the time period the advertiser says and get another special report or bonus for responding quickly.

You often see these types of offers on TV or on Internet promotions where there's a set starting time and ending time. That works fine. But where it gets tricky is in direct mail because you have no idea when someone actually received the offer and there's no date on the deadline. It simply says you have to respond within 11 or 5 days. Here's an example'

__ Save $25. Receive 6 FREE GIFTS!
__ FAST REPLY BONUS! 7 FREE GIFTS! I'm responding in 11 days. Send my FREE BONUS VOLUME.
__ FASTER REPLY BONUS! 8 FREE GIFTS IN ALL! I'm responding in 5 days ' so I get another FREE bonus.

Here's the dirty little secret: EVERYONE gets the additional bonuses even if they don't indicate they're responding in 5 days because there's no way to determine how long it took for them to respond. You can respond in 10 days or 10 weeks and still get the additional bonus!

What do you think? Deceptive or creative?