The “Blog Follower” Bots are Still Busy

Yesterday I posted an article about affiliate marketing and the underhanded, despicable lies they use in their come-on websites to hook gullible people into buying worthless products.

Surprisingly, this post attracted a flurry of new followers:

  • Online Health Offers
  • Net Millionaire Dudes
  • Online Arts Marketing
  • Digital Tools For You
  • Motivated to Lose Weight
  • Marketing Trends Secrets
  • Digital Marketing Blog Updates
  • Set Up Multiple Income Streams
  • Create Your Own Lifestyle Online Business
  • Three “empty” blogs
  • Marketer’s Handbook
  • Lose Fat in 21 Days
  • … and three empty blogs, placeholders for who knows what.

Clearly the keywords that triggered this inrush were “Marketing” and “Weight Loss.” Now, I’d like to think that all of these “fine people” were interested in what I have to say, but every single one of these was clearly out to promote their own product/scheme/system/scam, take your choice.

For what it’s worth, all of these were deleted this morning, just on general principles, but I have one very persistent follower, a cryptocurrency hawker, who came back five times before he finally gave up.

I can only assume that they think the more blogs they follow, the greater the likelihood that others will follow them automatically. In the case of WordPress, every time someone follows my blog, I get an email like this:

[Blogger] just started following you at http://playingintheworldgame.com. They will receive an email every time you publish a post. Congratulations.

You might want to go see what they’re up to! Perhaps you will like their blog as much as they liked yours!

The fact that WordPress tacitly enables this behavior ¹ is a bit disappointing, but in a perfect world where there were no spammers, it would not be a bad thing. I wouldn’t mind at all if like-minded individuals followed my blog or liked my posts, and I would be more inclined to go see what they had to say about relevant topics. Sadly, the vast majority of my current 1,578 followers never interact with my posts, so I can only assume they are – if not outright fakes – simply promoting their own schemes.

Fortunately, I’m not writing this blog for the purpose of making money, so I really don’t lose any sleep over how many people follow me; a lot of my posts are a form of public service announcement, placed out there so that people who are investigating potential scams can be warned and save their money. If people find me, and occasionally they do, then I’m satisfied.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


¹ The referenced article is 7 years old, but interestingly still entirely relevant. WordPress is a good platform, but they obviously have to monetize, and also have to live in a world where less-than-reputable people will do whatever it takes to increase their own exposure. It’s an ongoing conundrum.

Affiliate Marketing – How many lies can they cram in?

I’ve written before about affiliate marketing, and what a plague it is on the internet. I just had a tab pop up on my browser – despite two ad-blockers being active – and I thought I’d share an image or two.

Health experts recommend losing between 1-2 pounds a week for healthy weight release. This claim amounts to close to 1 lb per day. Ain’t gonna happen, unless you’re eating 500 calories per day and burning 3,500. In addition, this claim is not backed by Fox News (as disreputable as they may be in other areas), the NY Times, Today, Oprah, Style Watch, or Redbook.

This is not going to happen in 22 days. Look, children, this is what we call “a lie.”

Limited time only: Lie
Only 4 Bottles Still Available: Lie
40% discount: Negated at the purchase page.
Offer ends Today: Lie

Countdown timer at the bottom of the page: Another Lie.

Let’s look at the purchase page:

This page claims to send you free bottles: Lie
Only 241 promotions left: Lie
Endorsements: Lie
Lose weight without exercising: Lie

So if you want that free product and provide your information (which, by the way, will be sold to every marketer with two coppers to rub together), you get this:

Oh look, you’re being charged $59.95. That’s not free, nor is it the 40% discount promised on a previous page. And if you don’t notice that the 6-bottle option is checked, the charge on your credit card is going to be horrendous.

But wait, there’s more!

Buried deep on the purchase page in light gray print is the link to “terms and conditions,” which very few people will bother to read. If they do, they’ll find a wall of text, which includes these hidden gems (there’s a lot more of it)

Terms
SCOPE & APPLICATION
1.1 You expressly agree and accept the Conditions set forth herein unconditionally as a binding contract (“the Agreement”) enforceable by law… (How well this load of BS would stand up in court is an open question)

PRODUCT AND BILLING
2.1 All product purchases made from this website are required to be paid in full. For more information about our products, please visit http://www.ketopurediet.com.
2.1.1. The prices for the products are as follows: $199.99 or $28.57 each for the 7 bottle package;$149.95 or $29.99 each for the 5 bottle package; $99.99 or $33.33 each for the 3 bottle package and $69.99 each for the 1 bottle package, plus $7.95 shipping and handling. Shipping and handling is non-refundable.
2.2 You authorize us to initiate a one-time charge to your credit card as indicated upon your purchase. (So, not free at all)

This next one is a real treasure:

16.7 I also acknowledge that I understand that by placing my order of Keto Pure Diet, I am automatically enrolled in the Keto Pure Diet health community program. I further acknowledge that I understand that my membership in Keto Pure Diet is included in my product purchase, that my complementary membership will remain active for as long as I remain an active custom of Keto Pure Diet, and that once I am no longer an active customer of Keto Pure Diet the membership dues shall, at my option, become my responsibility. I hereby grant authorization for the monthly membership dues to be charged to the credit card or debit card used to complete the purchase of Keto Pure Diet. I further acknowledge, agree to, and accept the Keto Pure Diet Privacy Policy, the Keto Pure Diet Website Use Terms and Conditions, the Keto Pure Diet Terms and Conditions, and the Keto Pure Diet Health Coin Terms and Conditions. I acknowledge that I understand that my Keto Pure Diet my Keto Pure Diet membership can be canceled at anytime by calling 1-888-628-6284, by emailing support@ketopurediet.com. Your Keto Pure Diet membership entitles you and your household dependents to consultation fee free calls with licensed doctors 24-hours per day, 365-days per year, as well as access to thousands of dentists with typical savings of 50% off regular bills, vision care savings, and prescription savings at most pharmacies in the US. To learn more value to the included Keto Pure Diet program, go to http://www.ketopurediet.com, and look for emails explaining the programs and services included in the membership.

Notice that if you stop ordering this product, you have just given permission for monthly dues to some worthless program to be charged to your credit card, and nothing is ever said about how much those monthly dues are until you’ve bitten the hook.

There’s a lot more legal noise in those terms and conditions, which mostly assure you that the company has all rights and that you have very few.

But what about the product itself? Is it any good? will it work? Wow, it’s so easy:

The ketogenic diet has been around for a long time. There is a massive body of information out there about it, some positive and some negative. While the marketeers would have you believe that exogenous ketones (i.e. the stuff that comes from outside your body) can put you into a state of ketosis in minutes, that’s highly debatable. So if you want to release weight with a ketogenic diet, follow step 2 above (but be sure to consult with your healthcare provider before beginning any program of this nature.) Step 1 can be safely replaced with:

  • Singing opera 10 minutes a day
  • Painting with Bob Ross
  • Learning to speak Turkish
  • Taking homeopathic weight loss drops
  • Not taking homeopathic weight loss drops
  • Standing on your head and spitting nickels
  • Anything
  • Nothing

… and you’ll get exactly the same results, whatever those are.

The Internet is awash with pages like this, because most affiliate marketers will say absolutely anything to get you to buy the product, for which sale they get a commission. And most affiliate marketers have the ethics of an angry honey badger.

Don’t be taken in by “offers” like this from sleazy, irresponsible salespeople. Stay away from any product that claims to help you lose weight fast.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Marketing by Deception Threedux

I’ve written about the auto dealer “You’ve Won a Prize” scam before. Today I happened to be driving past Rockland Ford in Thomaston, Maine with one of their flyers in my hand, and since a $5.00 WalMart gift card is better than a sharp stick in the eye if I’m in the area anyway, I dropped in.

ford

(Click image for a larger view)

The flyer states pretty plainly that I’ve won a “car, hotel and gas card.” But as usual, the large print giveth, and the small print taketh away:

The number  that you matched does not give you a choice, but an opportunity to win a prize.

If you’re not sure, this means “the number you scratched off means nothing at all.” The only number that means anything is the one after “official registered #”, which in my case is 129,280. Odds of winning the WalMart gift card are 499,994:499,999, meaning that’s what you’ll get. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s the $500.00 one. It isn’t.

The salesman I spoke to insisted that the advert wasn’t deceptive at all, and I should just read the fine print. Well, I’ve lived long enough to know that bait-and-switch is a scummy tactic, and is usually covered up with the most barely-legal douchebaggery the attorneys can dig up.

Yes, as long as the “final deal” is spelled out somewhere, they can claim that customers had access to all aspects of the promotion and it’s legal. But I ask you: how many people walk away from the encounter disappointed and with a sour taste in their mouth about the dealership? How likely are they to want to buy a car from a dealer that uses such tactics to get people in the door? People who run these enterprises ought to give that a thought.

But they won’t.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Another piece of music, ruined for life

As I have written before, advertising can be insidious. I can’t listen to the 1812 Overture without thinking of Quaker Puffed Rice.

Recently while listening to a medley of American marches on my headphones at work, it occurred to me that National Emblem by Edwin Eugene Bagley will forever call up in my mind a defunct auto dealership in Salt Lake City, Zion Motors Inc.

zion motors

At 59 seconds in, I can’t help but sing along,

🎶 Just remember we don’t monkey ’round at Zion,
It’s the greatest
Deal you’ve ever seen
Just take the short drive out to Murray, at Zion Motors
And see what we mean! 🎶

Whoever came up with that jingle should get a medal. Or be shot. I haven’t decided which.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

What’s in a Logo?

Companies spend large money developing a logo that speaks to the world. They are an integral part of brand recognition – who in the world doesn’t recognize the Coca Cola logo, even if they don’t speak English or use Roman script?

Image result for coke logo

Who in the world doesn’t see the “golden arches” and immediately know that McDonald’s is close by?

08-mcdonalds-logo.w1200.h630

These logos and these brands are worth millions if not billions of dollars, and they are ferociously protected and actively marketed around the world.

Some logos, however, are more than eye-catching; they’re supremely clever, some from equally powerful companies and some from local enterprises.

amazon

Amazon, of course, ships everything from A to Z and a lot of stuff in between. The arrow, in addition, looks very much like a smile, suggesting how pleased you’ll be with your order. Just don’t talk to the people who work there – they’re not terribly happy with their job conditions.

Baskin Robbins

Baskin-Robbins prides itself on its 31 flavors (seen above in the logo) but not on their value as health food. Duh. John Robbins, son of founder and owner, left the empire for more wholesome pastures, and encouraged his father to step away from the inevitable when he got him to live a healthier lifestyle after the father had been diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Years before, partner Burt Baskin had died from a heart attack.

Anyone who grew up with black-and-white televisions and saw color for the first time probably saw the NBC “proud as a peacock” logo:

Today’s stylized logo retains the peacock, even if you have to look for a bit to find it:

CBS

One of the cleverest logo inclusions is the one FedEx (or their designer) came up with. They want you to know that your package is on the way, and so that little subliminal arrow helps you understand that they move stuff, and quickly.

FedEx1

Never seen that arrow? Here it is:

FedEx2

Spartan golf clubs are represented by a man with a powerful swing – but if you look at the entire picture in a different light, you see a Spartan warrior in profile with his iconic helmet.

Spartan

This is one of the most delightful recent designs I’ve seen, with a very creative use of positive and negative space – the swan, the mallard, and the ampersand (&) all combined into a very pleasing and evocative image. Artwork was created by John Randall.

Swan and Mallard

Ever look closely at the Toblerone logo? Seen the bear in that mountain? Berne, Switzerland, is notable for its bears, icon of the city.

Toblerone2

But wait, there’s more!

Toblerone

Yes, the home city of Toblerone is also found in the name.

Then there’s the Tostitos logo. Look closely and you’ll see two folks sitting at a table with salsa, sharing a tortilla chip.

Tostitos

Le Tour de France logo clearly represents a person on a bicycle, with one wheel yellow, probably evoking the yellow jersey that the winner gets to wear. Unless he’s outed for massive doping, but that’s another story.

Tour de France

The official Toyota explanation of their logo is as follows:

In 1990, Toyota debuted the three overlapping Ellipses logo on American vehicles. The Toyota Ellipses symbolize the unification of the hearts of our customers and the heart of Toyota products. The background space represents Toyota’s technological advancement and the boundless opportunities ahead.

But whether or not they intended it, the image has an additional fillip of intrigue:

Toyota

One of my earliest PC-type computers was a Vaio – and their logo is a brilliant blending of the analog computers of the past (represented by the sine wave seen on an oscilloscope ( and the digital computers of today, represented by the “1” and “0” of binary bits.

Vaio

Yoga Australia managed to work the shape of their homeland into the image of a young lady in a yoga pose – Oi oi oi, mates!
Yoga Australia

Lastly – and there are many others that I haven’t touched on in this post, but these were some of my favorites – is the logo for Hitachi, which I have written about in detail.

Hitachi was once one of the most well-known brands in electronics; for more about this fascinating logo, click through.

Naturally, there is the other end of the scale – logos which are awful for any number of reasons.

original

This one just hurts to look at because of the clashing colors.

Many of the ones which have been called out can’t be shared here, as I try to keep this blog on a family-friendly plane – but if you’re interested, just do an image search on “the world’s worst logos” and you’ll see what I mean.

Logos, like domain names, can contribute to the success or failure of an enterprise, which is why companies are willing to spend significant amounts having their logos designed. If the stars align, a logo can be a tremendous and memorable success.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


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Facebook clickbait – it must work.

On my mobile device, since FB Purity doesn’t work on handhelds, I have to scroll through a lot of real garbage – often every other post is “sponsored.”

Here’s a sample of things I’ve seen just in the last few days.

Screenshot_2017-10-17-12-39-47Screenshot_2017-10-17-12-40-25Screenshot_2017-10-17-12-41-05Screenshot_2017-10-17-12-41-27Screenshot_2017-10-17-12-43-51Screenshot_2017-10-17-12-45-00Screenshot_2017-10-17-12-47-44Screenshot_2017-10-17-17-00-29Screenshot_2017-10-18-09-54-44Screenshot_2017-10-18-09-59-10Screenshot_2017-10-21-03-57-48

Obviously clickbait works, or companies wouldn’t do it – but it’s so annoying to see all these hackneyed “you won’t belive” and “this will shock you” attention-grabbers. The other part, of course, is that most of these articles are relatively valueless anyway, either [bad] opinion pieces or poorly-compiled lists.

It makes browsing Facebook on a mobile a less-than-fulfilling experience. I wish FB Purity were available for my Android, it really cleans things up on the desktop version.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

MAD™ Memories Department – Commercial Roulette

From Mad™ Magazine issue 59, December 1960, comes one of my favorite features. While the illustrations are intended to be humorous, the text is lifted from real commercials that aired during the era.

Commercial breaks were rigorously timed back in those days, so it was difficult to spin the dial during a break and find a program instead of another ad.

Click the images for larger versions; Artist, Bob Clarke. Writer, Gary Belkin.

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The Old Wolf has spoken.