I'm down with the social networking (kinda). I've got four blogs. I'm on LinkedIn. I receive tweets on twitter and I can email my posts via posterous. I have a facebook account. I'm an "expert" on eons.com. I post articles on Helium, Wellness, Associated Content and Wellsphere. And I share my photos on flickr and my presentations on slideshare. For a guy in his fifties, I really need to get out more.
It seems the internet "knows" where I go. Because when I'm on my home page, reading my RSS feeds, and catching up with what's going on; the ads on the pages I visit seem to be related to weight loss. I'll see countless ads from Weight Watchers. Lately I've seen the manly ads from Nutri System. (You can tell they're manly because the spokesmen are athletes and they're burly and they yell at you and there's loud music.) I am also inundated with banner ads that sell supplements.
So, today, I see this:
I'm kind of intrigued by the reference to Oprah because she's one who's credible and I want to know what the "one flat stomach rule" is. So, I click on the link. I'm taken to this page. On that page, I see this:
As it turns out, good old Melanie Thomas has created her very own blog to talk about how great she's doing on her diet, which she figured out by combining Acai Berry and Colon Cleanse (hopefully not in the blender; yich!). She has posted this blog and her history to show us what a wonderful job it's done and to encourage all of us to try it. She's a very thoughtful, warm person who only wants to help, I'm sure. to support her statements, she provides "proof" of the changes she has made as shown in these photos:
Good for her! (Although losing 29 pounds in three weeks might be exciting, it's certainly NOT healthy.)
Since I'm looking to write my weekly column, I figure this might be food for thought, so I start poking around. First thing I notice is that the website address is http://www.melsdietblog.com/post/med9/. I wonder what would happen if I typed in http://www.melsdietblog.com/post/med8/ (colors added for emphasis). Guess what? It goes to an exact same site; obviously a marketing campaign. I keep trying, substituting 7, 6, 5; I even just try http://www.melsdietblog.com/. I always end up at the same place. We were surprised by the octuplet story; why, glory be, that's nothing compared to how many "Mel"s there are. they're popping up like weeds!
But wait! There's More!
So, as I'm fussing about, learning all about Mel. I go to another page, and lo and behold, I see this ad:
I can't be sure, but it sure looks like Mel to me. Sure, her sweater was photo-shopped from gray to pink, but -- after all we've been through -- I'd recognize Mel anywhere. Yet, in the upper right part of the ad, I see that she's changed her name in the last few minutes -- and she's added a second rule to a flat stomach. Wow! What a drag. If I would have only acted earlier, I could have flattened my stomach with one rule. Now, I have two. If I don't act quickly, I'll have three.
So, I click on that link, and I'm introduced to Nicolle (Huh?)
Well, glory be! It's my old friend Mel, but now she's Nicolle. She lost so much weight, she didn't even realize who she was. See! Don't they warn you about fast weight loss? See what happens? Weren't we right?
This website however, is more sophisticated, because it knows I'm in Eureka. Mel, not as web-savvy as Nicolle, was a somewhere housewife in California. (See above picture where she describes herself.) Nicolle's website says this (and note the reference to my home town).
And the other thing is the website is located at http://nichollesweightloss.com/story/?mb=19&ad=300251. But if you type any number in the ad number, it takes you there. I typed all the way up to 100000. Yep, good old Nicolle on every page. (I presume it's all the same page with a different tracking number but it's kind of fun to imagine 100,000 Nicolle/Mel clones roaming our planet full of Acai Berry and emptied by Colon Cleanse, isn't it?)
What started me on this post was not the marketing angle, although it's kind of fun to do (I run a marketing blog too) and remind people not to accept everything at face value. It's not a real blog. It's not a real person. And, I have my doubts that the product works anyway. After all, take a look at this text, pulled directly from Mel's site: