410.235.7070 Join Our E-Letter
businessGPS Taking You From Where You Are to Where You Want to Go.

Manipulative Marketing Corner: "It Looked Just Like an Invoice!"

Manipulative Marketing Corner: "It Looked Just Like an Invoice!"

July 24, 2008

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 'It looked just like an invoice!

The ad below is among the most effective promotions some publishers use to increase renewals. It's intended to look like an invoice and is especially effective when sent to businesses.

The ad looks so much like an invoice that the accounting department will simply pay it assuming that it needs to be paid. It's also effective when sent to consumers and some may believe it's an invoice for something they already ordered.

Publishers will even go so far as to send it with perforated edges on the side and with a 'customer copy' and a 'merchant copy' to make it look and feel like an invoice.

What do you think? Creative or deceptive? Send me an email at JonGoldman@BrandLauncher.com.

Last month's dilemma

Is it a blog or a flog?

Search on Google or any of the other search engines and you're more likely to get recommendations for content-rich blogs than traditional websites.

In response, savvy marketers and PR firms are creating their own blogs to create more traffic about their product or service. They look and feel like someone writing for their own enjoyment, but the flog (fake blog) is really a cleverly designed marketing tactic created by ad agencies. Wal-Mart, Sony and McDonald's have all created flogs. Some even pay writers to post entries on their blogs to create more traffic about their product or service. What do you think? Creative or deceptive?

*****

My response: Deceptive. In every example I cited above in which Wal-Mart, Sony and McDonald's hired agencies to create fake blogs, they eventually had to take them down and issue apologies.

Sony probably received the most criticism for creating blogs about people desparately trying to find videogames for Christmas. Interestingly, much of the criticism was about how poorly Sony tried to mimmick teenagers talking to each other. Lesson learned: Don't try to be something you're not.