Jeffrey Saltzman's Blog

Enhancing Organizational Performance

Warning – Marketing Ahead

with 2 comments

I was sitting in the middle seat with 3 across on a long red-eye flight recently. My legs were cramped, my back was killing me, my seat only went back about 5 degrees and I could not even extend my elbows beyond the armrests since the seats on both sides of me were occupied. What are all those ads about all the comfort you are supposed to experience when you fly? I haven’t seen any comfort in quite some time. I was wondering how I was ever going to get any sleep on the flight and then I got my answer – I didn’t get any. Of course with the seats being so cramped you can’t open up a computer to do any work. So not being able to sleep and not being able to work I started looking at the magazines in the seat back pocket and I thought I would look for other dubious advertising. Since I could not bend at all I simply tore the interesting pages out of the magazines and stuffed them into my briefcase.

Here are some tidbits from the airlines in-flight magazine.  

  • An ad for Babel Yak™, “Learning a language is not only good for your career but it makes you look sexy too!”  Nowhere in the ad is there any explanation on how learning a language will make you look sexy or is the word even used again, only in the attention grabbing headline, so I guess we will have to let our imaginations run wild.
  • “Suntheanine®, the award-winning, patented dietary ingredient for stress.” “…clinically proven to reduce stress, improve the quality of sleep, diminish normal symptoms of PMS, heighten mental acuity, and reduce negative side effects of caffeine.”  Then in very small letters on the bottom of the ad, “these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.” My immediate thought was who gave them the unnamed award? Since it was not mentioned anywhere I assume they gave it to themselves. As for “clinically proven”, well let’s just say that I would believe the rigorous study with control group design when I see it. For an ingredient that is supposed to do all those things mentioned, to then state that is actually doesn’t treat, cure or prevent anything is a bit of a letdown. Well at least they are honest in the fine print.
  • The screaming headline for Dr. Charles Karrass’s negotiating seminar, “It’s like steroids for your career.” Given all the negative publicity surrounding the steroids scandals in baseball I think I would recommend to Dr. Karrass that he hire a new marketing firm, one not willing to connect his company, however tenuously, with illegal drug use. I have been flying regularly now for about 26 years and I swear it is the same photo of Dr. Karrass in the ads today as it was 26 years ago. I can’t believe that he hasn’t aged in all that time. For a while his son’s picture was also in the ads, but then it disappeared, I guess that did not work out. Maybe dad was so tough in how he wanted to run things that his son left the business. Too bad they couldn’t negotiate on the matter.  
  • “Cenegenics – GQ suggests it is the path to reversing the signs and symptoms of aging.” Well if a respected scientific journal like GQ says it…. In the ad they show a picture of Jeffrey Life, MD at age 67 and describe him as having a body of a 30 year old, except for his head which looks like a 70+ year old head. If this program works to reverse the signs and symptoms of aging how come it doesn’t work above the neck? Maybe Dr. Karrass is using the program and that is why he hasn’t aged in the last 26 years.
  • YogaToes, yes you may not have known it but your toes can do yoga. And if your toes do yoga it will “stretch, strengthen and straighten your toes”. I don’t know about you but my toes are long enough already.
  • You too can buy a $14,615 machine that allows you to exercise in 4 minutes per day. They actually have a statement in the ad that says, “The more we tell people about the ROM the less they believe it.” Ok, I don’t need to hear any more then. If you went and purchased this machine and used it exactly the proscribed 4 minutes a day for a year, 365 workouts, each of your workouts would only cost you $40.04 or $10.01 per minute for that year. What a bargain.

I looked and looked hoping to find the magic bullet that would solve the personal problems I encounter. You see, as I have aged I have found that the hairs in my ears as well as my eyebrows have been growing longer, at the same time that the hair on my head has been thinning out. Yes it sounds quite attractive, I know. What did you say? You don’t have any hair in your ears? You don’t know what you are missing. I searched and searched and searched but could not find any product in the magazine that would get rid of the hair growing out of my ears. No even one that would make a somewhat spurious claim.  Oh well, maybe on the next sleepless flight I will find my magic bullet.

Written by Jeffrey M. Saltzman

November 1, 2009 at 8:39 am

2 Responses

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  1. On a flight to Seattle a couple of weeks ago I was struck by how much of the flight attendants’ announcements were actually pitches to buy, join, apply, enroll, have the correct change, etc. At one time, we called these very busy professionals (who used to be required to be registered nurses) “stewardess.” Then we called them “flight attendants.” Am thinking now that they should be called “pitchmen.” Or…rather “pitchpeople.”

    It has to be a drag for these people, whose original responsibilities around passenger safety are still in place, to have to go through these pitches with every flight. It’s like trying to save the airline industry one buckle-up at a time.

    Martha Finney

    November 3, 2009 at 7:18 am

  2. Wow! Sounds like a long flight. Next time, try the magazine puzzles. I find them a better diversion-if you can get one that no one (like me) has already filled in.

    Sometimes, if you beg a flight attendant, you can get a real magazine or a cast-off newspaper from first class. Avoid the airline magazines-the ads ARE pretty scary! Happy flying.

    Melanie Levine

    November 9, 2009 at 11:46 am


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