A little truth about false advertising.
November 14, 2008
Adpulp recently ran a piece about a California man who was fooled into joining Classmates.com by an online come-on claiming some of his long lost high school friends were waiting to meet up with him on the site.
Ah, the promise of seeing Stevie and the Pugster again! Remember that time you all climbed up the water tower and Stevie fell in? Or what about sweet Lorraine, the most beautiful girl in the world? Maybe she’s regretted that missed opportunity at prom, where you both were with other dates, but had that one slow dance…
All bullshit. Nobody this man knew from high school was waiting for him at Classmates.com. It was an email scam. And one, according to his attorney, that was arguably illegal. Adpulp reports they are “seeking class-action status for the complaint, which alleges misrepresentation, negligence, fraudulent concealment and violations of California’s business code.”
Good for him. I loathe this blatant form of false advertising. I recently compared hardcore DM to “snagging” –a brutal form of fishing whereby the fishermen rip weighted hooks through the water trying to gaff spawning salmon.
This “Bait and Switch” technique is nasty for it’s reliance upon a lie. Other lying liars of the adworld are direct marketers who address (and dress) envelopes to look like there’s a check inside or correspondence that is “personal and confidential.” Disgraceful. How is this not different than the email con men from Nigeria or phony victims of natural disasters and war? They want your money and will prey on your sympathy to get it.
I realize what we do (at all agencies, in all media) is based on a selling proposition. I’ve written extensively about how advertisers regularly manipulate greed, lust, envy, sloth and other “sinful” triggers in order to fulfill their agendas. I struggle with it and am, in turn, fascinated by the struggle. However, I must draw the line at bait and switch or flat out lying.
Old friends may be found via Classmates.com but they are NOT waiting for YOU right NOW. And when the site uses something as personal as an email to communicate, it makes the lie more insidious. For me, it crossed the line.
What do you think?