Gray Flannel Dwarf

2/20/2006

Blue media outlets need to clean up their advertising.

Sometimes I wish it was as easy as… well, Pie.

Listening to Air America online this weekend, I noticed two irksome things. The first one is the fact that listening to the radio stream while advertisements are played opens browser pop-ups referring to the ad in question. That this happens over and over again — and thus, if you leave your computer for a while, there are twenty new pop-ups for the same thing across your computer monitor — is something of an annoyance. This said, however, it’s a revenue stream that Air America needs, and seeing as it was for a reasonably useful product (internet-based teleconferencing for business), I don’t have such a huge problem with it.
The other ad I heard a lot is problematic to me, and Air America isn’t the only one that seems to be ensnared. Read on…

The other ad I heard a lot on Air America was for the questionable See Clearly Method. One doesn’t have to be an optometrist to know that it’s more than “weak eye muscles” that cause bad vision, and nevermind that the concept is based on a readily debunked 1920s theory, See Clearly operates under the premise that people can miraculously improve their vision… all while having a disclaimer with holes large enough to drive a car through. Another article published by Columbia university takes a more open-mind at the approach, but even one of the most pragmatic doctors interviewed stated:
(All emphasis in the following quotes is mine)

“It’s not just can we peel back your power,” said Press. “It’s for someone who is -1 or -2 and who asks ‘Can I do away with my glasses?’”

…and any such claim is certainly muted by the advertisers of See Clearly.
So why is Air America taking advertising dollars from questionable businesses… and thrusting these ads upon its listening audience?
So, okay. Maybe there are some See Clearly believers out there. Maybe there is a grain of truth and/or hope in their claims. Thus, I guess I could’ve even let this one issue go, however… if I hadn’t read Raw Story today and seen an advertisement about “Americans getting free weekly checks from the Canadian Government!” that went to this dubious webpage. (I removed the referral credits in the URL)
Now of course, the old adage probably holds true… “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.” However, I did some research on these claims. Sure enough, it didn’t take long to find some more realistic information…

I suppose what I truly dislike about these programs is that they were tax structures, and those inevitably turn out to be disastrous.
Then, speaking as a proud Canadian who thinks we overall have a superlative capital market, I just cringe when I see U.S.-based Internet marketing of these so-called Trust Programs.
Let me say that, with respect to the latter, I believe there is a direct correlation between the frequency of stock promotion by unlicensed promoters and the probability of fraud.
Many of these securities are businesses that will fail (or materially disappoint) as soon as interest rates in Canada move a level or two higher, or commodity prices fall a level or two lower, or the fast-paced Canadian economy starts to slow.
In other words, there is a level of risk here that traders are failing to recognize.
I think the authorities in the United States would do the world a favor if they were to clamp down on so-called investment newsletters that are stock touts for these “Canadian Royalty Trusts”.
Every cycle is the same at the top. Usually it’s the Canadian penny mining stocks. At the top they have moved from 25 cents a share to $2.50, or maybe $7.50 or $17.50, and then after the broad market bear sets in they fall quickly to less than 25 cents.
What bothers me is that it is not part of the Canadian culture that creates these financial disasters; it is typically (and I mean no disrespect to the country) American stock promoters who are working out of places like Orlando FL and Phoenix AZ and Las Vegas NV, but mostly via shell companies incorporated in places like Antigua, Bahamas, Belize, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, and Panama (– Note the list is alphabetical). I speak from years of experience with these people.

Or this posting…

Be that as it may, the income Royalty Trusts have NOTHING to do with Canada’s social programs and are NOT (I repeat) NOT guaranteed by the Canadian Government.

…which reproduces a quite pertinent Globe and Mail article on the topic…

What’s laughable is how the 12% Letter offers up yet another example of the cockeyed view Americans have of this country. But there’s a serious side to all of this, too. With its idealized picture of income trusts as a government-authorized investing bonanza, the newsletter highlights the way in which some investors in Canada misunderstand trusts. It also plays into some of the criticisms that the anti-trust crowd have raised.
According to the 12% Letter, income trusts are being referred to by some financial types south of the border as the “Canadian royalty checks program.” Readers of the newsletter are advised to think of trusts as an example of the great social benefits of being a Canadian.
“You probably already know that Canada is famous for its huge social programs — like free health care, the Guaranteed Income Allowance (otherwise known as ‘The Allowance’) and federal training and employment programs,” the promo for the 12% Letter says. “What you may not know is that there’s a unique situation right now in Canada that is allowing Americans to fund part or nearly all their retirement.”
The 12% Letter is written by Craig Walters, a former equity analyst and currently the managing editor of Stansberry & Associates Investment Research, which is based in Baltimore. Those of you who are familiar with the wacky and wild world of investment newsletters will have an idea of what we’re dealing with here. There are headlines about investments offering the moon and stars (43-per-cent bonds, for example) and breathless prose about opportunities.
The information about trusts — sorry, the “royalty checks” program — is a bit, um, garbled. But it does capture the gold-rush mentality that took hold of the trust market just before Finance Minister Ralph Goodale made it clear the government was taking a hard look at the trust sector.

So okay. There are scams everywhere, I know, a sucker is born every minute, etc. However in this instance, in a timeframe of less than twenty-four hours, I’ve seen two questionable business claims that are barely a step up from snake oil salesmen, and both have been seen on left-leaning media outlets.
While there is the question as to what degree of control Raw Story had over these ads — their third party ad agency might not have the scruples to leave such scams out of their rotation — the larger question still remains unanswered: Why are we seeing questionable ads which employ dubious practices appearing on the media outlets that we all read? Sure, “buyer beware”… but isn’t the left supposed to be mindful and protective of the masses, not a predator thereof. Likewise, shouldn’t such a courtesy be extended by the media outlets which promote left-leaning viewpoints?

1/6/2006

Miller Time

Inadvertent advertising choices by keywords can be fun.

Don’t know if anyone else will get the same thing, but I’m sitting here reading this article about Bode Miller talking about skiing drunk… and what are some of the ads I see on the site? A big Budweiser flash ad and a Google-affiliate ad for Millerbrewing.com/MGD.


Tags: , , , , — cswiii @ 9:33 am