Another day, another dose of acai berry backlash in the press.
I was taking a read over Wickedfire when I caught sight of this thread. It seems that the Attorney General in Illinois has decided to take firm action against acai berry floggers. This news is particularly significant as it involves both the advertisers and a couple of well known affiliates.
Read the article here: Attorney General Madigan Files Suit Against Acai Berry Companies
Now there’s a bunch of issues that come to light from this news. Firstly, you’ve got the whole drama of fake celebrity endorsements.
Not to criticize fellow affiliate marketers too heavily, but if you buy a domain with Oprah’s name attached – and promote a rebill as if it fell out of her fat ass – you deserve all the trouble you get. I’ve invented my fair share of sales stories, but I’ve stopped short of imaginary Hello magazine endorsements. It’s just a legal minefield. I’m a pretty strong advocate of aggressive marketing. But that’s not aggressive marketing. It’s barely even marketing.
If Viagra Plus posted my smiling face and promised the world “As Seen On Finch’s Bedside Table”, I’d be pretty fucking heartbroken. Somebody else’s business is somebody else’s business. Sure, half of America is dumb and willing to buy anything Oprah shills on her talk show. But you can’t go sticking your wang in other people’s pies. Fake celebrity endorsements are the sort of harmful and misleading advertising that are ultimately gonna come back to haunt this industry. For some, clearly, it already has.
The second issue raised in the lawsuit – and arguably the bigger problem for most affiliates – is the action threatened against flogs. Most media publications have been pretty slow to “get” what a flog is all about. But in the latest round of lawsuits, the AG Lisa Madigan has gone out of her way to directly implicate these kinds of websites.
No doubt, widespread legal action against floggers would dump the cat amongst the pigeons. Not just because the acai berry market is so dominated by this kind of marketing, but because it’s spreading so rapidly to other niches and verticals.
Flogging for bizopps, flogging for anti-ageing…Christ, even flogging for dating (Try it, you’d be surprised!). If this form of marketing becomes a process of walking the legal tightrope, we’re going to see a lot of movement and a lot of top earners rethinking their marketing ways. Personally, I see that as a good thing. A flog, when you break it down, is pretty basic and doesn’t require much “level of entry”.
So what are we going to see next? If advertisers get hit for using fake celebrity endorsements – where does their next logical step take them?
How about…ACTUAL celebrity endorsements?
It’s happening already. I got a tip-off from one of my affiliate managers today about a muscle-building rebill that is apparently enjoying quite a lot of success on Advaliant. The catch? It’s genuinely endorsed by Stephan Bonnar. If you don’t know, Bonnar is a hulked up dude from UFC who looks like the sort of wet dream the target market for the offer would have.
Most of the top advertisers can afford to pay for a genuine celebrity endorsement. And I think this is what we’re going to start to see in the future. The celebrities don’t have to be A-List. As long as the name rings a bell in the consumer’s head, that’s all that matters. Credibility only has to be subtle to be effective.
Affiliate marketers have been running wild with fake celebrity testimonials for as long as I can remember now. The best way to sustain the tactic in the long term is to take the method and make it legit. Pluck a C-List celebrity out of obscurity and create some consumer trust.
If you’re sitting there now, scouring Google Image search for Oprah pics to throw in to your flog, stop for a second and think about the long term repercussions of what you’re doing. You’re not really marketing. You’re making up bullshit lies to sell a bullshit product. I can live with the bullshit product. But trademark infringements and slinging on somebody else’s rep – that’s no way to skin the cat.
Good luck to those affected by the latest round of lawsuits. I’m kinda anticipating a scapegoat to be made at some point in the near future. Best to comb your facts from your fiction to make sure that scapegoat doesn’t become you.
For clarity, I do not use Viagra Plus.