November 17, 2003
Because It's In Print . . .
I sat in an office at a health
club in Maryland. I had just finished a consulting project
and a member of the club asked me about one of the Growth
Hormone precursors. He asked if I believed it "worked,"
and of course, doing what I do, I shared my educated opinion
and believed I had helped him see that the product was being
fraudulently marketed. It was simply an amino acid supplement
being sold as a miraculous fat burning aid. He listened,
but I could tell he was annoyed. I wasn't telling him what
he wanted to hear. He handed me a bottle of the product
and I went through the ingredients one by one. He left the
office in a huff, and stormed back in less than a minute
later waving a sheet of paper. It was a photocopy of an
"article" that went on to discuss how "research
has proven" the supplement works. Despite anything
I said, he was going to believe it worked because it said
so on a sheet of paper. There's something about seeing it
in print that makes it believable, and that's why product
sellers can capitalize on valueless products simply by skewing
and twisting the reality and putting the twist in print.
Few marketers can really claim
originality in their fraudulent marketing ploys, as they
seem to replicate whatever appears to "work" to
sell products. There are some common ploys product marketers
use, deceptive techniques using the print medium, newspapers,
magazines, flyers, and brochures, that have the persuasion
power to get people to act. Unfortunately, the angry man
in the Maryland health club wasted a fair amount of money
as a result of his tendency to believe "what it says
in print." I don't want to discourage you from buying
anything you see value in, but I do want to protect you
by allowing you to identify some of the more common (and
powerful) marketing ploys.
The mention of a new scientific
appears as if there are scientists hard at work coming up
with revolutionary principles and new technologies, all "breakthroughs"
in reducing American waistlines.
The Ab Swing is marketed with
the mention of "Swing Glide Technology." Ab Away
uses "Reverse Ab Action Technology." The Ab Scissor
in unique because of its "patented Scissor Action,
a biomechanical breakthrough based on its unique Gravitational
Linkage System." What in the world are they talking
about?!?!!? I've written this article while using "the
nucleonic bull-bashing truth-seeking deception-busting techologically
advanced breakthrough system of fitness truth." Here's
the reality. Ab devices will NOT reduce your waist, will
not "carve away the love handles," and unless
they come with a scalpel and a suction hose, will not make
fat vanish from your waistline. They do, however, have a
tendency to make money vanish from your wallet and hope
of achieving great abs vanish into oblivion.
They sell a non-consumable
product as a solution in order to keep you buying something
few weeks ago I shared the promotional copy from a "weight
loss candle" offering on my radio show. It sounded so
absurd. Weight loss candles? Do you eat them???
As I read the copy, it revealed
some mystical properties of these very special candles . .
. and it became clear that you don't eat them, you burn them!
According to the ad copy, you
had to buy the heated candle warmer for $39, and then, of
course, you had to replenish your supply of candles regularly,
even if you were just going into the "maintenance phase."
What a great way to sell candles! Promise they'll help people
lose weight, and in the process, unload candle warmers that
were probably taking up space in a warehouse until someone
figured out a marketing ploy that would get them to move.
recent trend, based on the same "sell-something so
you can sell- something-else" approach, seems to have
caught fire. The ads are being designed to sell belts, bandages,
and wraps, claiming that they will melt fat . . . but ONLY
if you use the creams and lotions the company behind the
ads also happens to sell. Some of these creams and lotions
lead to water loss, and when you wrap an area you force
water displacement which can create the illusion it's "working."
All that's really working is the advertising.
They promise a result via some
device or technique and lead you into buying addictive drugs
Selling addictive drugs? That
sounds seriously criminal, doesn't it? Well, criminals and
product marketers in many cases may be one and the same.
Thankfully the FTC does sometimes step in and put a stop
to these practices. The Ab Energizer was sold via an infomercial
and it was one of the top airing infomercials during its
lifespan. Its lifespan ended when the FTC filed complaints
relating to fraudulent claims. The Ab Energizer was a one-time
purchase . . . but . . . it came with the Ab Energizer Dietary
Supplement. What was in it? Ephedrine.
An addictive drug.
another example of this deceptive practice, a news release
issued by the office of the Attorney General of the State
of New Jersey reports that they are suing Goen Weight Loss
seminars . . . for fraud. Apparently, Goen's marketing materials
promised up to 120 pounds of fat loss in a year . . . without
drugs . . . using hypnosis! After paying $59.99 to attend
the seminars, attendees were persuaded to buy . . . you
guessed it . . . ephedrine products! There's lots of money
to be made when you get enough people addicted to an inexpensive
product. Ask any crack dealer . . . or any of the marketers
who employ this deceptive practice.
They use the word "Natural"
to imply that something is "safe"
world's strongest "natural" fat burner" is
a promise made by a manufacturer of yet another ephedrine-based
product. The copy goes on to suggest that this compound
is absolutely safe as its ingredients are "all natural."
Let's understand the word "natural." It means
"found in nature."
Cocaine comes from cocoa leaves.
Opium comes from poppy seeds. Methamphetamine is made from
ephedrine which is extracted from Ma Huang, a chinese herb
found in nature. Are these "natural?" We'd have
to say yes . . . but would we ever presume to call these
There is a toxin produced in
the liver of the blowfish that is so highly toxic to humans
that if it's swallowed, death arrives almost instantly.
This toxin is found in nature. I think you get my point.
They sell you a miraculous
potion and stop you from eating
What a wonderful entry for the
Museum of Scams (not yet constructed . . . but there is
certainly enough material to fill a very very large building).
You find a product that's inexpensive, put it in a bottle
of some sort, and tell people it's a weight loss miracle.
There's one more step in the process if you want repeat
business. Just tell the people who take it not to eat!
From the label of the 24-hour
juice diet . . . "do not consume food." From the
label of the "lose weight while you sleep" collagen
protein supplements . . . "take 3 hours before bed
on an empty stomach and do not eat until morning."
You'd think common sense would kick in here . . . but no,
if it's in print, it must be the juice, the collagen, or
the delicious tasting shake working the weight loss magic.
They quote actual research
performed on some other compound
Let's get back to my meeting
in the Maryland Health Club. The man's name was Michael.
He gave me the photocopy and I took it home with me. As
I came to understand the situation a bit better, I learned
he had "bought in" to a company that sold the
product, and he was convinced, primarily because of "the
research" that it was legit. When I shared my skepticism,
he didn't want to hear it. He wanted to believe "the
research." I actually pulled up the research studies.
One was referenced as follows
Amato G, Carella C, Fazio
S et al. Body Composition, Bone Metabolism, and Heart
Structure and Function in Growth Hormone (GH)-Deficient
Adults Before and After GH Replacement Therapy at Low
Doses. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
was a legitimate study, but it used injections of actual
Growth Hormone! The product being sold was an oral capsule
containing an array of free form amino acids. It has nothing
to do with the research! As you begin to explore the ads
for these GH releasers and anti-aging oral supplements,
you'll note references to research. Before blindly believing
what it says in print, find the study in the journal it
was published in and decide for yourself whether it has
the newspapers for the news and read the ads with a healthy
skepticism. Read magazines for entertainment, but realize
their editorial is biased in favor of their advertisers.
In fact, many supplement companies now put out their own
magazines which are really nothing more than glorified brochures.
Brochures are printed with one goal . . . to sell something,
and the information isn't scrutinized by anyone other than
those who maintain a vested interest in product sales. Perhaps
there was a time when "it's in print" meant something
. . . but with any sixth grader now able to create a graphic
masterpiece on his home PC, "in print" means little
more than something was committed to paper . . . hmmm .
. . wait a minute. Weight loss paper! Now there's an idea!
"Our brochures, using the revolutionary metabo-ink-reduction
technology, turn you into a fashion model. First you have
to buy the brochure holder for $39.99 then you have to follow
Instructions: Eat 1/2 a grapefruit
for breakfast, drink lots of water, and the rest of the
day only consume our brochures, available in 30-packs
for only $19.99.
Group Workshops Return to South Florida!
Seminar coming to a city near you!
You Missed Any Updates:
10/15/03 - The 5 VIPs of Fat Loss
Update 8/15/03 - Healthy Foods?
7/7/03 - Bars and Meal Replacements . . . What's Best?
6/9/03 - The Ab-solute Truth
4/20/03 - The Great Diet Debate & Atkins Revisited
For a complete
list of previous updates visit the
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