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Manipulative Marketing Corner: "I got a notice from the city we have to do this."

Manipulative Marketing Corner: "I got a notice from the city we have to do this."

December 18, 2008

Last month's dilemma

Is it okay to list an "invited" speaker in the marketing for a conference?

Sen. Hillary Clinton

Perhaps you've been the victim of this marketing strategy. A high profile speaker is listed in the conference marketing but once you get there you find the speaker is a no-show. In one case, a company listed Sen. Hillary Clinton as an 'invited' speaker to a health care conference, even though they knew it was unlikely that she would speak at a for-pofit event.

The promotion worked. The organizers enjoyed a record-breaking crowd, but Clinton never showed. What do you think? Deceptive or savvy marketing?


My response: Deceptive. There's nothing illegal about what the company did, but its intention is absolutely deceptive. Anytime a company promotes something that they know will be perceived as if it's true when the marketers know it may not be entirely true, that's wrong.

In this case, the marketers knew Clinton probably wouldn't speak but put her picture on the conference promotions anyway knowing she would draw a crowd.

Trust that your product or service is good enough without promoting a promise that you know you may have to apologize for later.

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 ... 'I got a notice from the city we have to do this.' Really?

My wife was ready to write a check right away when we saw this, but I wasn't buying it. Immediately, I thought it was a scam.

The notice informs homeowners that new curb addresses are being painted on our street the next day and if we want to be included we're instructed to sign it and leave it on our door authorizing the work to be done. A $20 payment is required upon completion. But take a closer look. There's no indication of who will do the work. There's no one to contact. You don't even know who wrote the letter. Most homeowners assume that a curb is government property and this promotion seems to appeal to that perception. Savvy marketing or deceptive marketing? Let me know what you think.

What do you think? Savvy marketing or deceptive marketing? Send an email to jongoldman@brandlauncher.com.