When Advertisers Get Lazy

Internet advertising is a strange beast. Some of the most popular ads play directly off our insecurities – that we’re fat, that we’re lonely, or that our penis is far too small. The immediate emotional response to what basically amounts to a controlled insult online can gall you into the all important “click” of the ad.

While this emotional manipulation is effective, it doesn’t give you the ability to completely half ass your campaign and still expect no one to call you on it. I saw this ad online recently.

Please note if you have AdBlock or similar software installed, it may block the image as it has “ad” in the filename. Check your settings.

Seems rather benign, not unlike thousands of other ads you see every day. It’s not particularly well done, but if it didn’t make money it wouldn’t be out there. But there’s something else – I saw it, did a bit of a double take, and then looked again. The 35 pounds figure seems to be off, but more importantly, the body types of the two don’t quite seem to match up.

Wait a second, what’s that on the right side of the slimmer girl? There’s a hint of yellow on the edge of the frame. Let’s cut out the pictures of the two girls, and then flip them around and put them beside each other.

Well damn. Turns out that you just took a picture of two sisters, one slim, the other not so much, flipped it around, and then tried to pass it off as a weight loss ad. Sorry about the grey line in the middle, it’s because of the black borders around the ad cut out a little bit of the image. Next time, perhaps a bit more Photoshop work?

47 thoughts on “When Advertisers Get Lazy

  1. Good show!

    Way to call out the dastardly bastards…not only is that simply bad form – it’s also damned lazy! I’d also lay $50 down in confidence that those girls didn’t get paid or release their images for ad use either. Cripes, I wouldn’t.

    We covered a similar topic, but with a different angle: that photo layout / cropping can be downright misleading and a helluva let-down. Link: http://bit.ly/4f7sCQ

    Keep up the clever sleuthing Geoff!

  2. I noticed this was 2 different women, look at the faces. Geoff you make a valid point, half-assed marketing tricks like this makes it hard for all of us operating legitimate businesses online. We get lumped into the ‘scam B.S.’ with the losers who do this kind of thing.

    Nice catch.

  3. Wow good catch on the photo ad and outing them! Good to see a man post here on the truths behind ads hitting on our insecurities as well! I totally agree and in fact am suffering from part my hair looking like a mess letting the gray hairs show again and have decided I’ll deal with it and stop coloring it and look my natural self again!


  4. Its bad when people do things like this but not all marketers lie to sell. If that was the case the world would be fool of nothing but bad products and service and based on the high quality of your work this is proven to be false.

    So thanks for the insight and lets be aware of both the good and the bad I like review sites because they put the power in the hands of the people just like blogs. Thank for a great post πŸ™‚ I may come out with a new weight loss program that’s guaranteed to work 100% of the time ” The Photo-shop Diet!” l.o.l

  5. hi….that picture is acatually of me and my friend. it was from 4 years ago and was not used with our permission by any means. we found out about it like a month ago. if anyone knows what can be done about people false advertising with pictures without permission please let me know.

    • Hi Jen,

      I’m not sure what can be done, but the first step would be finding out the company responsible. I have a feeling it’s not so much a company as a guy in a basement (hence the lazy design) but it’s worth a shot.

      I found it advertised on MySpace – I’ll see what I can do about digging around a bit. Email me if you have any questions.

  6. I was about to leave a grouchy reply saying that the ad isn’t visible, but I tried it in IE and I saw it. Apparently AdBlock plus (see my blog) blocked it, maybe try putting that up on notice because there’s quite some firefox users that have it.

    Which is also the solution to online advertising by the way :3

  7. wow! that was clever. You got a eyesight of cat, Geoff. I really can locate the error in the pic until the point where you clearly mention that this is the loop hole. May be they cant afford two models hehe

  8. That is still some effort to find a pic like that…In India, I see slimming ads that are way worse….they just pick anyone’s image and strech it (thats right…no need of hitech software…even ms paint will do!) and paste it as before…i mean…the woman must have gone through hell to lose so much weight…atleaset she could have changed her top for the after pic πŸ˜‰

  9. Geoff, great eye! Thanks for noting and sharing. I personally think that it’s way more important to create a trusted fan based than an immediate sale. Of course, as marketers we need to make sure we balance, but still tricking people into clicking (using whatever image) is wrong. This makes a bad name for online marketers.

  10. I am just new to your blog and just spent about 1 hour and 30 minutes lurking and reading. I think I will frequent your blog from now on after going through some of your posts. I will definitely learn a lot from them.

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