Sunday, December 30, 2007

We Couldn't Say It in Print If It Wasn't True!

This fine example of American advertising comes from Parade magazine, which admittedly is an easy place to find sucker ads.

I've highlighted my three favorite parts of the ad. In case it's not clear, the ad offers a money-back guarantee on its weight-loss product ("no need to count calories, no need to lower your caloric intake, need to give up your favorite foods!"). And the fine print at lower right says, "Our guarantee contains no fine print..." !

Also worth a chuckle was the fact that the sponsoring company is a member of the "prestigious Direct Marketing Association." I'm sure that qualification resonates with anyone who has ever received a telemarketing call during dinner.

The ad refers numerous times to clinical research, double-blind research, and so on, but no actual references that could be verified, of course.

A quick Google search of the product name turned up the company's sites, and then right afterward a link labeled "Akavar 20/50 possible false misleading advertising claims" on It sounds like Akavar "works" by making you nauseous, so you can't eat... genius! There's a class action suit in the making, too. I guess that's where all the suckers (more charitably, wishful thinkers) go after P.T. Barnum to hold him accountable.

But what is this free-for-all, anyway? Does a free and open marketplace have to mean the return of Lydia Pinkham? Does anyone else pine for the day when we had a government that believed in enforcing consumer protection laws?

And what's the cost of a two-page ad in Parade, anyway? According to the Parade rate card, a full page is $840,600 (x 2 = $1.7 million), assuming the ad was run nationally. (The Dallas Morning News website tells us that a single full page insertion is about $15,000 [x 2 = $30,000] just for the Dallas market.) So I have to assume that a lot of suckers send in $39.99 for their 15-day supply of pills... at least 42,500 of them to make back what they paid. Based on Parade's claimed circulation of 32 million, that's a return rate of only .0013 (.13 of 1 percent).

In searching for information on rates in Parade, I found this disturbing statement from daily newspaper publisher BoothMichigan : "Among Parade readers, 94% say they've taken action based on reading Parade."

I'll stop now. Enough demoralizing stupidity for one morning.

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