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Manipulative Marketing Corner: "Is it an Ad or an Editorial?"

Manipulative Marketing Corner: "Is it an Ad or an Editorial?"

October 27, 2008

Huh? I never ordered this!

A letter like this one, which implies you're getting something you requested would probably grab your attention. Problem is, you never ordered it! In fact, it's simply an offer sent to prospects asking them to make an appointment. The person who received this ripped it open because he was afraid he was wrongly charged for something he never ordered. It certainly grabbed his attention!

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My response: Deceptive. Although the mailer isn't coming right out saying, here is the kit your requested, that's exactly what they're implying.

The first reaction is to say, 'Wait a minute! I never requested something like this!' Then, you begin to wonder if you're getting charged for something you never ordered. When you realize it's just a promotion, you'll most likely feel duped. Whether it's legal or not is beside the point. It's deceptive and more importantly, it gives a bad impression of the company, which is exactly what you don't want to do in your marketing. Yes, the mailer may get you to open the letter, but at what cost?

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.

This month's dilemma ... Is it an ad or an editorial?

In just about every magazine or newspaper you can find an ad that looks and reads much like a traditional news article. It looks so much like an article, that publishers require 'Advertisement' to be placed prominently above the article to distinguish it from the other articles.

The 'advertorial' includes a strong headline that looks just like the headline in a news article, some include a byline with the 'staff writer' moniker, a dateline, quotes, pictures and some include charts and tables to make it appear even more newsworthy. You may not even realize you're reading an ad until you get to the end where a call to action appears.

Above is an advertorial that's been running in Parade magazine and USA Today.
What do you think? Is that just savvy marketing or is it deceptive advertising? Send me an email at JonGoldman@brandlauncher.com.