Sorry for being so obsessed with this Canton, Ohio/Universal Media Syndicate/false advertising jag I've been on lately, but I just discovered a few more things.
Believe it or not, I found someone who admires the work of the Universal Media Syndicate and its ilk in a discussion thread from a site called The Copywriting Board. The original post asked other writers to share good examples of advertorial writing. After a while, a person going by the name "gjabiz," based in Canton, Ohio, brought up the work of UMS in reply #23. Quoting gjabiz heavily here:
Greater Canton IS a hotbed of [direct marketing]. 3 major players in SCI [Suarez Corporation Industries], Arthur Middleton (holding company for Universal Syndications) and FitnessQuest. All three employ hundreds of people each. Several smaller companies... have emerged in the area. They all link back in some manner to Benjamin D. Suarez [head of SCI].Wow, there are some frightening facts in there:
If someone spends a few years at SCI, they become well equipped to start their own "small potatoes" companies. NOT everyone wants to build a big company, and there are many former copywriters who cut their teeth under John White, Ben Suarez, Rod Napier [head of Arthur Middleton] and other top executives who mastered the art of selling products via direct response....
Akron U. is also supplying many of the established and younger companies with interns from the Direct Marketing Laboratory...the only state of the art college campus facility that teaches Direct Marketing from people who are successful doing it. So, this means we will continue to grow and remain a HOTBED for direct response marketing methods.
With the new Suarez Business Institute coming on line in April (scheduled) we hope to expand the "borders" of Akron-Canton and find talented people throughout the country who can create products and or promotions that work.
- First, Arthur Middleton's Rodney Napier isn't the original source of all this dreck, but only the latest incarnation. The originator is one Benjamin Suarez, who may have been Napier's father-in-law (that info is based on a crazy site I found called stopbensuarez.com, so take it for what it's worth).
- Second, Ben Suarez has funded the Applied Marketing Research Laboratories at the University of Akron (see the description of the funding on the SCI site and on the University of Akron site). It sure makes me feel good to know academics are using modern science to help these scammers do their jobs better.
- Third, Suarez has just started something called the Suarez Business Institute to teach his methods. You can sign up for it on the RPPurchase site (a subsidiary of SCI), as long as you're willing to give them your Social Security number and $35.
Suarez is infamous for using his acquired wealth to go after politicians he doesn't like, such as former Congressman Jack Brooks (D-Texas), according to onlinemarketingtoday.com. According to the same article, he's sued critics (including the guy who wrote the piece on interesting-people.org, cited above) for "tortuous business interference" and "defamation." And I found a crazy rant he wrote as a memo to his employees back in October 2008, telling them why they shouldn't vote for Barack Obama (if you go to the link, search the name Suarez in your browser and you'll find the rant).
Sounds like Rodney Napier represents the more reasonable branch of the family.
Now all I have to do is wait for an email from Suarez's lawyer.