Health and Fitness Scams

Health and fitness magazines and radio and television commercial producers often find themselves in precarious situations due to the nature of how they generate revenues; most of their profits are produced by selling advertising space. Unfortunately, that means that they often have little choice but to work with companies that distort the truth. Simply put, even publications and programs whose goals are to provide beneficial information on health and fitness to their audiences are often forced to sell ad space or time to disingenuous companies. In many cases, the articles and programming must frequently support the “fabulous results” their clients’ products claim to provide. My magazine DIVAS was in print for two years; this provided me with firsthand experience about the compromising decisions every magazine owner and/or publisher must face. Jeff Everson, former editor for Muscle & Fitness Magazine and current publisher of Planet Muscle Magazine stated the following about this situation.

One of the biggest problem that magazines endure is their dependence on supplement ads to pay their bills. If you just tried to publish a magazine about real training, you would never make it. While one naturally tries to improve the industry, it would be suicide to bite the hands that feed you. As a result, one needs to take in a few bad messages to be able to afford to get the good messages out. It’s like being held hostage to stupidity and lies to get the truth out! A magazine typically gets about 20% return on money from sales and subscriptions… without paid advertisements you would be out of business quickly. Unfortunately, I do not think the situation can be changed any time soon because the dynamics of the markets have not changed.

Another interesting fact most people don’t know is that some magazine publishers also own or have financial interest in many of the product lines you see advertised in their magazines. Translation: their magazines become catalogs to sell their products, and worse, their editorial articles become tainted by profit incentives and other financial influences. To quote marketing specialist, and advertising producer Jeff Boxer: “…From an ethical perspective, when this happens the essential line separating editorial authenticity and advertising has been compromised in an egregious manner. This is one of the most troubling and unfortunately effective forms of consumer deception. ”

Given Mr. Boxer’s statement, I would like to bring your attention to radio and television programming and/ or commercial presentation. All of these venues have a definitive agenda, and that is to promote or sell something, whether that product meets its claims or not. Most disingenuous are the ones that masquerade as TALK SHOWS and/or serious NEWS programs, but are instead nothing more than camouflaged ADVERTISEMENTS. They typically follow a set formula to achieve their goals: a host, actor and/or celebrity works from a script supplied by the company selling the product, their ad agency, or an infomercial producer. Staged callers who can be either actors or entertainment wannabe’s that contribute to this charade by asking strategic questions or providing glowing testimonies designed to convince you that the product they are talking about has changed their lives in a dramatic way. Simply put, the entire “show” is nothing but exaggerated claims, lies, and misleading statistics. How do I know this? This charade has been offered to me on several occasions to sell my products. Most of the radio shows that seem to be serious investigative programs on health and healing are nothing more than elaborate advertisements. If you put out a new product, even with the best of intentions, you will soon find yourself inundated with scores of people willing to create misleading data, or say and promise anything to make your product a “hit.” For many, the lure of success can be too enticing to pass up, and as a result, they choose to take this compromising road.
A recent investigative report by Dateline dramatically illustrated some of these points. The Dateline staff created a phony product called MOISTUROL, which was nothing more than capsules of milk-chocolate powder mix masquerading as a “miracle” skin moister enhancer. In order to sell the product they hired a marketing company to create an infomercial to promote and help sell this fake product. It is essential to note that the marketing company didn’t KNOW or CARE if the product was FAKE. Their only objective was to figure out how to market and sell the product successfully.

Among many of the disturbing elements involved in the production of this infomercial was a medical doctor’s willingness to take $5,000 to clinically substantiate the product’s effectiveness, with which she had zero personal and professional experience! A handful of women were also willing to testify (for the measly sum of $50 – hence the Fear Factor mentality of doing anything to be on camera) that the product had given them “remarkable results.” One woman went so far as to claim that after taking the product a facial scar disappeared. The infomercial company happily took the $140,000 fee from the “Moisturol” company to create this convincing illusion. When the Dateline crew exposed the hoax by informing the participants that the product they had enthusiastically endorsed was just a mixture of chocolate powder and sugar, they quickly retracted their claims and/or or offered disturbing excuses as to why they lied. Most said, “they felt obligated to do a good job for the company by exaggerating their claims”.
A seasoned marketing expert estimated that if the infomercial had aired as scheduled it would have sold over TEN MILLION dollars worth of product in the first year. More disturbing was his estimate that subsequent consumer fraud lawsuits (if any were filed) would award duped consumers only two million in penalties, at best. Final result: the worst-case scenario for the makers of this completely worthless product would be an EIGHT MILLION dollar profit. For Real!
Stay aware out there and make a point to buy products from companies with a solid reputation.