Today I came across the most unethical advertisement for a supplement that I have ever seen. Here’s the story;
I was browsing Facebook, minding my own business, when all the sudden I see a sponsored post about an ‘FDA approved smart drug’ by the Kitchen Meta Facebook page. Of course, the incredibly buzzword friendly language set off the bs alarm in my brain, and made me want to explore further. So, I took the click bait and opened the ad.
The outer circle of hell:
Clicking the link lead me to an extensive ‘CNN’ article about a blogger trying this ‘Smart Drug’ and reporting on his experiences over the span of a month. Unsurprisingly, he seems to like it. It made him believe, “The mental fog and stress I’d been carrying around vanished instantly.” He even referenced a seemingly fake tweet from the Limitless movie twitter page for reference. Obviously, this gave the product some credibility… until I actually tried to click the CNN logo which directly linked to a tracking URL and then redirected to the supplement website with what looks to be an affiliate URL. A red flag had been raised, so I went back to the ‘CNN’ article and began digging deeper.
The inner circles of hell:
It didn’t take long for me to realize the site I originally hit was not CNN. Though the page used their branding, almost every single click on the website lead back to the supplement website (after passing through secondary URL) . Hell, the main website URL wasn’t even to CNN’s site! I couldn’t believe the lengths that this (alleged) affiliate went through to sell a product and it angered me that someone would use a known brand’s trademark to build trust. So, why am I ranting about this travesty? Because, we can learn from it.
This is why we can’t have nice things:
As most of you know, affiliate marketing is extremely hard to control. Once you post up a product and CPS to affiliate sites, the marketers take it into their own hands to sell your product. Creative control is lost, and sometimes insanely unethical shit like this happens. I do not know if the supplement company (whom I will not name on my site) was/is aware of this promotion, the methods of which their product promoted or if this was even promoted by an affiliate at all. But, this article needs to serve as a reminder to distributers and advertisers that this kind of advertising is NOT OK. In my opinion, not only are you tarnishing someone’s brand for a quick buck but you make the rest of advertisers look bad in the process. Also, from a legal side of things, you are walking the line of multiple FTC rules and regulations that are put in place to protect consumers.
David Ogilvy once said, “The customer is not a moron. She’s your wife.” and as I once said, “You’re making us all look bad… please, stop!”