You might think that you’re a pretty discerning person. You don’t fall for those, “your computer has a virus” phone calls. You don’t give your credit card information out willingly. You don’t go around sharing your social security number all over the Internet.
And yet, you’re falling for scams every single day. They’re subtle ones, sure, but they’re scams nonetheless.
Every single day you’re bombarded with thousands of images, phrases, and products that are all very cleverly disguised in order to sell you something. Some of them — like billboards and commercials — are totally obvious about it. Others? Not so much. For example, you may own a loyalty card for your local grocery store. While it is a great way to save money, the store also uses it to profile you as a shopper. They might notice that you buy the same off-brand ice cream every week, and suddenly you’re receiving coupons for the brand name stuff. Sneaky.
Basically, everything is marketing.
And marketing is kind of a little bit of a scam.
(No disrespect to any marketing gurus out there!)
For further examples, we turned to a recent AskReddit thread where people shared what sort of seemingly innocuous things are actually marketing in disguise. The answers might surprise you.
The main takeaway is this: If a company ever offers you something for free, it’s because you have become the product.
My local furniture store has gone out of business about a dozen times.
Good for them, though! They keep bouncing back!
At least it’s pretty though.
The light that some companies advertise along with their teeth whitening gel [is a total scam].
I went to a continuing education course for us dental hygienists. The instructor asked, “What does the light do?” We all answered “nothing.” The instructor replied “Wrong. It makes the patient happy.”
I could have told you that one.
Shows like “The Doctors” when they recommend specific products.
You watch these assholes word for word vomit the commercial and a lot of people eat it up without looking into the product, at least with a lot of my coworkers (blue-collar warehouse laborers). Since the show is successful, I presume their “recommendations” are selling fairly well.
The Price is Right is just one hour-long commercial filled in between with other commercials.
I always had my suspicions.
The “finance person” at the car dealership.
You sit across from their desk after you’ve made the deal, but before they give you the car. Yes, they’re registering it and getting your plates, but they’re also upselling left and right. Upgrades to the car, additional warranties, steering you toward a certain lender, etc. A lot of their profit is made in that little meeting.
I’ve definitely fallen for this one.
National “Whatever” Day on social media.
It’s a ploy to go buy pizza, beer, donuts, etc.
You mean there’s no war on Christmas?!
The controversy over the Starbucks holiday cup.
It was either last year or the year before they unveiled their solid red cups for the holiday season. Suddenly there was MASS OUTRAGE by Christian groups. Turns out, it was a blog. Like, 1 blog with a guy who basically does Christian satire. News ran with it, back to back hour coverages for several days.
To no one’s surprise, Starbucks saw massive profit increases. As they probably will this holiday when the cycle repeats again.
Portioning of everyday use items.
Laundry detergent, Alka-Seltzer, toothpaste, etc. all show in commercials and on the packaging that you need to use way more than you do. Alka-Seltzer specifically started showing 2 tablets dissolving on the box to get people to use it more to increase sales.
Talk about manufactured drama.
Trash talk in combat sports. MMA and boxing in particular.
The fighters have to get people interested in their fights so folks will spend their money on pay-per-views.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Every “get rich quick” scheme ever.
They lure you in with promises of making big money in just a few months but what most people don’t realize is that those fancy cars and mansions they see in their videos and presentations are all rented, and those maids and butlers they command are all hired actors.
All this to create an image of wealth and influence so that people will be more inclined to buy their ebooks or whatever overpriced “coaching subscription” they’re offering to these unsuspecting victims.
The sales they make from their books and subscriptions is THEIR get rich quick scheme.
Their “seminars” aren’t about teaching YOU how to get rich, they’re about tricking people into making THEM get rich quick.
Hangin’ out where the kids are. Very clever.
Military Appreciation sporting events.
The military used to pay sports teams to have these to get kids interested in joining the military.
The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Making loads of cash off of the gullible good intentions of millions.
The term “action figures.”
It was made up to sell dolls to boys. It worked.
Diamonds *aren’t* a girl’s best friend.
The value of diamonds.
Try to resell one and you’ll find out just how valuable that diamond engagement ring you bought is.
Are you really married if you don’t spend tens of thousands of dollars?
Most everything related to weddings. You know, you CAN have a wedding without all the nonsense.
Same with babies. You can have a baby without a gender reveal party.
Thanks for the free advertising!
Wearing overpriced, name brand apparel where the only decoration or main feature is their name brand all over it.
People become free marketing tools.
(I acknowledge the sense behind this, in terms of the customer wanting to demonstrate or send signals on something socially, like one’s spending power, class, or whatever, but still. I have always found this to be cringe-worthy.)
Don’t you care about the environment?
Brown or green packaging.
They either make you think the stuff inside is environmentally friendly, healthy or both. They could sell sour patch kids in a brown sack and people would think they switched to organic ingredients.
As someone who goes several months between oil changes, I’m happy to hear this!
Getting your oil changed every 3000 miles.
Check your vehicle’s manual and it likely recommends much higher.
Do you pay more for “healthy” foods?
The “natural” foods movement.
For instance, foods are often labeled organic (big scam), GMO-Free (often put on stuff where no GMO version even exists, and is meant to trick you into thinking biotech is bad and that you should buy products with the label to avoid it), no added hormones (often it’s illegal to add those hormones anyway), you name it.
The uniting factor is typically that, rather than promoting some good thing about their product, they try to imply that other products contain inferior or even dangerous ingredients when this usually isn’t the case.
You know how the Dum Dum suckers have mystery flavor kinds? Those are created when they are at the end of one flavor in the machines and the beginning of another.
The only difference between scrap and “special edition” is marketing.
When companies sponsor charities and do “good deeds.”
A lot of the time. They would never do this if it didn’t make the company look good.
The company that made the commercial where everyone in a deaf person’s path that morning was able to sign to them…do you really think they care more about helping a deaf person or associating their company with a good feeling that people have when they see the video?
If they really cared just to be good, they wouldn’t have to plaster their company logo all over the place at the end.
The idea that fatty foods are causing heart disease and obesity.
While there are some arguments to be made for that, it’s mostly decades-old marketing from big sugar related companies back in the 60s. Reducing fat in food reduces its taste and the end result was that the food industry added more sugar to compensate.
This one’s kind of a bummer.
Companies that release rainbow products or post-pride-themed pictures in June.
A lot of companies don’t really care about the LGBTQ+ community. People wear a lot of rainbow shirts, hats, pins, etc. during pride month and major companies just want to capitalize on it.
Pregnant? Watch out for scammers!
Expensive prenatal vitamins.
Medically, they’re all the same, but they range in price from $2/month to $250/month, and all of the increased prices are marketing, gimmicks, and filler.
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! (Just buy it first.)
Putting plus size women on the cover of magazines.
Cosmo has been making money off of women’s insecurities for over 100 years, you really think they give a, shizz about Tess Holliday and changing mainstream beauty ideals?
They’re trying to sell magazines and stir up controversy, and it worked!
Most of the nerd culture often seems to be just “consume new episode then buy a clever related product.”
Drives me crazy how many people think they have to prove their love of some media by buying a bunch of random trash.
Yes, I enjoy adult animation, no, I am not going to buy your Rick and Morty/adventure time crossover Funko-pop just to prove that.
All the respect for anyone who lives that life and it makes them happy.
We’ve all fallen for this one.
The amount of toothpaste on toothbrushes in the ads.
Technically you only need half the amount of toothpaste, but they show the whole brush in toothpaste to subtly manipulate you to use more toothpaste.
Got milk? It’s actually OK if you don’t.
Dairy milk actually doesn’t have as much calcium as we are led to believe.
Many non-dairy milk brands have more; the whole “got milk?” campaign was all just marketing.
The dairy industry was never concerned for kids’ health, just look at the vast amounts of crap that’s being pumped out nowadays.
Who would have guessed that a bunch of bros had it all wrong?
The assertion that you need quick protein (such as whey powder/shakes) immediately after strength training to maximize gains.
The evidence clearly does not support this. The only possible exception is if you train fasted, but that is still not definitive.
The fitness industry thrives on bro-science!
Share this with your most discerning friend!