I hate “marketing”: The fashion model syndrome and your marketing message

I’m searching for information which isn’t appearing in my “main” email in box. That means I’ve given my hotmail email account as the contact point and now, I’m searching through HUNDREDS of “marketing” emails in search of the information I need.

I confess…. I subscribe to email newsletters using email accounts I RARELY check… I’m not the only one. Your email subscribers do this too.


So today, I’m perusing the subject lines of emails, trying to find the “golden” one for which I seek. In the meantime, I see such subject lines as:

  • Now you CAN skyrocket your site to the top of the major …
  • Unlimited Hits To Your Website in Just 15 mins From …
  • Instant Cash in your Paypal Account
  • Earn 7 Figures in 2008 with Quantum Leap Principle…

Suddenly, I start to get angry.  I’ll call it the “fashion model” syndrome and it’s affecting legitimate marketing and advertising.

There isn’t any doubt that the incredible rise of anorexia and bulimia amongst teen girls is being fueled by the virtual skeletons with skin who are featured everywhere you look. At one point, the “fashion” was to make the  models look like drug addicts.  Fortunately, that extreme created a slight backlash and Dove launched their “real beauty” campaign.

Over the past half century, by surrounding normal growing girls with images featuring unrealistic “freaks of nature” we’ve desensitized our selves to what is normal.   Little girls have become desensitized to what normal, healthy female bodies look like and as a result, they aspire to the extreme.

The same desensitization is happening to your audience with your marketing messages.

In talking with a client a few weeks back, we were discussing how to promote her new product. We found ourselves in a horrible quandary. In order to effectively “compete” with the trash that is constantly bombarding us… we found ourselves toying with making ridiculous and outrageous claims in order to “grab” attention. We did it in the name of “brainstorming” and eventually moved on to actually creating messages that solved her client’s “problems” but the temptation was there.  It’s truly the softer, easier way to create an outlandish claim to move product or services.

Over promising and under delivering is not the path to marketing nirvana.

Making outrageous claims may have improved your email campaign open rates at one time, but now those outrageous offers are being tossed around so liberally are going to come back to haunt not only you.  The foundation of a successful business is repeat customers and building a customer base that refers your products and services to others… right?
Am I  being a prude?  Are outrageous claims and setting up unrealistic expectations just a part of “modern” marketing?   Is this just the “way” of marketing 2.0?


  1. You bring up a lot of good points. I cringe every time I get a Hotmail email address from a customer, as I know that I’ll never ever actually reach them. We keep our marketing as informative and “prescriptive” as possible for just the reasons that you mention. There’s really no way to convince people of this in advance. You just have to put it into practice, let them see, and then hope that they will attend to your messages.