Dear Scott: I saw your article on Cindy Crawford’s wrinkle cream and wonder if you know whether any of the products on the Internet that claim to remove wrinkles work? The ads that I see online are very convincing. Have you tried any?
Answer: Not the wrinkle creams again. I have tried some of the creams. Only for the sake of research, of course.
Advertising and marketing are a slick and interesting part of any industry, but the internet seems to push it to the limit.
Here is an example of what you might see online:
The browser page ad headline reads:
“Augusta: Mom publishes thrifty face-lift secret that has angered doctors. Woman is 53 but looks 27.”
You click on the pretty woman’s photo and are diverted to a page with before-and-after photos of a different woman. In one she is all wrinkly and saggy, in the other it looks like she just graduated from high school.
“Mary” has a very long story about the products that are for sale, how great they are, stuff that sounds very scientific, and the free trial that is (conveniently for the maker) over.
Mary is not from Augusta. She is not from anywhere, because Mary doesn’t even exist.
There is an asterisk before her name, and if you actually take the time to scroll down to find the asterisk that coincides, you will read as follows:
“The story depicted on this site and the person depicted in the story are not real. Rather, this story is based on the results that some people who have used these products have achieved. The results portrayed in the story and in the comments are illustrative and may not be the results that you achieve with these products. The depictions on this page are fictitious and indicative of potential results. Actual results may vary.”
In other words, no one is claiming responsibility for your believing a made-up story about results that never happened.
It’s simple for an advertising company to auto-select the name of a city on your computer or phone, to reflect the area that you live, drawing your attention. They can also sign on as different people, leaving comments about how great the product is.
Advertisers can literally say anything they want because they have a disclaimer.
That little asterisk has been around a long time. It’s been right there at the bottom of TV info-commercials, we just don’t have time to read it, for the most part.
At least now online we have the opportunity to actually read it for a change.
One thing that you can be sure of, if a cream is invented that will magically remove wrinkles, it will be on the front page of the newspaper and it won’t have an asterisk before it.