Bullshit Detection – “Endorsements are just Hype”


I started out with a posting on “Woo Words“, then moved on to “Evidence not Credentials“. Now I’m adding more thoughts that will hopefully help to enrich your Bullshit detection kit.

I do hope this one is obvious, really obvious. In fact I’d be astonished if it was not, and yet so many of us still fall for it.

When somebody famous is engaged to push a specific product we all know in our heart of hearts that its just marketing hype, so why does it still happen? Well, basically because it works. The celebrity in question gets a wad of cash for their services, so they are quite happy to do or say whatever is required, and the advertiser reaps a jump in sales.

Associating some product with fame does not in any way guarantee that it actually works or is effective. Nor does having a research department, advisory board or other professionals and experts on the payroll hold any real merit, yet such tactics are employed because millions out there are quite happy to embrace the hype. I guess we are all susceptible at one time or another to getting suckered in like this; I know I have been.

When faced with a choice, look for evidence to backup any claims, period. All an endorsement proves is the the vendor has pockets deep enough to be able to oil a slick sales pitch. There are many dietary supplement and vitamin pushers quite willing to make wild outrageous claims in order to sell, and there are many folks who are only too happy to take the money regardless of how dodgy it might be. I’m not suggesting that all endorsements are dubious, but rather that they prove nothing at all.

Whenever you spot a well know actor or soap star endorsing some product, just pause for a moment and remember that they have made an entire career out of pretending to be somebody they are not, faking all sorts of positive or negative emotions. What you are seeing is an illusion; a psychological spell is being cast upon you. But of course most of us are smart enough not to let that happen. Think about it now, would you really be fooled into electing a movie actor  to the white house, no that could never happen because quite obviously the majority could not possibly be fooled that easily … er yes, thats my point, we were all fooled, and so now we all “remember” the Regan era. The only exception was Regan himself, he never remembered any of it afterwards.

Sometimes its not a person but a well-known familiar object that is being used to manipulate you. Take for example the humble white lab coat. Having somebody wear one creates the implicit almost subconscious illusion that they have some medical or clinical knowledge and endorse the product from a position of knowledge. Many cosmetic departments within stores or airport duty-free outlets leverage this by getting staff to dress like this so that they can sell you overpriced lotions or potions.

Bottom line, look for evidence; ignore the hype.

“Don’t tell my mother I work in an advertising agency; she thinks I play piano in a whorehouse.” – Jacques Seguela.

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