Ripoff Commercials = Stupid TV Stations and Networks

Its hard to turn on the TV today and not see commercials for some of the biggest ripoff schemes in existence. From Get Rich Quick schemes around the internet, around trading stocks, around real estate and anything else scam artists can think of, to get fit, get trim, get pretty, get studly, get this, that and the other, rip off commercials are in full force these days.

Why are they on TV ?

There are few rules in business that are simpler and easier to understand than “DONT RIP OFF YOUR CUSTOMERS”. Why is it that TV stations and networks and I need to include radio as well, have no problem running commercials that are blatant hustles of one sort or another ?

If you ever need an example of short term thinking at the expense of long term value, this is it.

Here we are at a point in time when the value of the traditional 30 second ad is being questioned and reconsidered because of industry wide fears that consumers will just TIVO right past them, yet the same industry places and runs commercials with a guy in a dollar suit sign running around selling a book that is questionable at best on how to get money from the government. Why ?

How stupid can you be to run these commercials ? Do you not realize that its not a commercial for the product, its a commercial to reduce the value of the brand of your station or network ?

HDNet wont run informercials or any ripoff commercials. We don’t need or want their money and I would rather go without commercials than run them. My viewers are my customers. For some reason that is a strange concept to stations and networks these days. They would rather squeek out a commission on herbal enhancement pills and end up with a poorer, upset viewer than run a show without commercial breaks. Thats ridiculous. Its a brand killer

How about this for a concept: If you havent sold a commercial, dont run a commercial. The lack of a spot will hurt your bottom line far less than running a spot to ripoff your customers

42 thoughts on “Ripoff Commercials = Stupid TV Stations and Networks

  1. What we have here are pirates allowing pirates to swindle everyone.
    The broadcasters are pirates so why would it be strange that they
    don’t mind making a buck from fellow pirates? It would be mighty
    strange if they actually gave a crap about the people watching their
    programming whether it was 3 in the morning or 7 at night on a Tuesday.

    It’s a funny thing that the government is trying to destroy and or
    create an internet 2 that is fully censored like broadcast tv using the
    excuse that there are too many swindlers and pirates on the internet.
    I would say yes there are swindlers on the internet , but there are also
    strong networks of people who blow the whistle on a holes like that making
    the internet a much much safer and reliable place.

    These scams and the willingness of the media to peddle them underscore
    the fact that it is important that we preserve the internet the way
    it is in order to keep some form of free thought and consumer safety
    alive! Don’t let them take away the last form of free communication we
    have. The rest of the media’s already dead in my eyes.

    Comment by dhaveed -

  2. Sometimes while watching new commercial a question comes to my mind \”How can they produce such a silly commercial?\” But maybe the more silly commercial is the better we remember it. And isn\’t it the purpose of it?

    Comment by Pink_Lizzie -

  3. I\’m glad you have a pulpit to rant from, but it\’s a bit silly to blame broadcasters for airing Junk Commercials. This is capitalism at its finest, and as long as there is an Idiot Public that believes that pills can add inches and remove bulges, this is the State of Being.

    What is really needed is an investment in education and public policy that dries up the Well of the Gullibles, which will lead these commercials to extinction.

    Comment by Tad Askew -

  4. A prime example of an industry who\’s SOP is to rip off virtually it\’s entire customer base — but expects them to remain loyal — one needs look no further than the banking industry.

    Unfortuantely for TV viewers of a more gullible- or Lower IQ-makeup, such ads will no doubt persist for as long as they are effective in reeling such folks in. The TV stations merely serve as \”pimps\” for these charlatans.

    TV stations, in general (much like financial institutions) seem interested only in generating as much immediate income as possible — ignoring potential long-term ramifications, such as the polarization of segments of their clientele.

    It all represents the triumph of lust over principle … welcome to 21st Century Mainstream America.

    Comment by John McGuire -

  5. I paid off a 30 year mortgage in less than 2 years!! You can do it too!

    Comment by Don -

  6. Money! Money! Money! These guys pay the money. They are the equivalent of Ringtone advertisements in print.
    Even listening to internet streaming… the early adopters are the \’impotency ads\’. These impotency ads are even infiltrating commercial radio. I guess the big name advertisers are only buying prime time. And thats all they\’re buying.

    Comment by American Pundit Fighting -

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    Comment by very good -

  8. – I have never seen a rip off commercial last longer than probably 6 months…

    – The reason is they don\’t work – atleast for very long. I dont mind these people getting on – making a little money then losing their ass.

    – Mark – I do however appreciate your concern form quality

    Comment by pallet jack -

  9. I totally agree. Expecially those commercials that say \”follow this and you will on the road to millions\” …\”I\’m going to share you my super secret way that I have been using for years\”

    …No good business man would tell his secret… this is why I hate commercials.

    Comment by H. I. -

  10. I completely agree with you, Mark.

    As we both know, this is a concern for all of America — trying to get rich quick and ignoring fundamentals of business. The flip side, which is never shown, is that those who get rich quick (the wrong way) often lose it quicker than they made it.

    In my business, which is a commodity and foreign exchange brokerage, many people open accounts hoping to get rich quick. However, during my initial discussions with new traders I always lay down the truth about how difficult it is to trade for a living.

    Inevitably, when I run training classes, half the class walks away after the first session to find a system that will always tell them what to do, so they don\’t have to think. Fortunately, in these situations, it leaves me with a group of people that has a drive to succeed and last beyond the average account life. Each client of mine knows that I will spend as much time with them as they are putting into it.

    Please view my website: for more info.

    Comment by Brad -

  11. Well said Mark. I think the same thing when I wake up in the morning and flip past BET, who around 6:30 am mountain time show a Don Stewart infomercial. Stewart is a white televangelist who hucks green prayer cloths with the implication they\’ll bring prosperity and healing. What they mean by prosperity is riches, showing shots of cars and mansions. You get the cloth for free, then they ask for money to fulfill the healing. Then they\’ll cut to shots from one of his \”revival\” meetings, which seem to be in urban churches with largely black congregations. They fall all over themselves to talk about how the prayer cloths and Stewart healed them or got them rich. It\’s an obvious ploy in the model of BET to air something that scams their viewers by playing upon the well documented black spirituality. Shameful.

    Comment by BSC -

  12. The reason for runing these commercials is plain and simple – they bring money and viewer will blame manufacturer not the station.
    If you buy a miracle balm to get youself thin and you actually stay as soggy in the waist area as you were before – you will either blame yourself or the company you bough the product from.
    Stations here are just the message carriers – and you do not kill the messenger, right ?

    Comment by L\'e-szczur -

  13. honestly, what is the average american going to be able to watch at three in the morning. BOOM! welcome to the world of infomercials. sure they arent realistic or probable, BUT HEY they are entertaining as hell. yes they are stupid and yes they are ridiculous. (go mavericks not a cheap plug). the world is full of ripoffs. how would anybody ever make money if it wasnt? im not saying that its wrong, im just saying that its true. people see an idea and build on it. one becomes another and that one becomes another until an epidemic of ideas, right or wrong, is being presented. is this also not considered plagerism? (off topic)

    heres a thought…originality isnt dead and i cant wait to prove it.

    thanks for your time


    p.s. – golden state is sitting in the eye of the storm.

    Comment by andrew -

  14. Mark,

    While I agree wholeheartedly with the need to take care of customers, are you really in a position to determine what is and isn\’t a ripoff? I realize that some scams are more obvious than others but if you start to \”edit\” your assortment of commercials, won\’t your consumers assume that the commercials that you do run are on the up and up? What if one isn\’t? Unless you\’re doing in depth research on all prospective advertisers, I think you\’re potentially doing more harm than good to your viewers if they assume that you\’re protecting them from con artists.

    Mark B.

    Comment by Mark B. -

  15. Right behind that rule should be DONT YELL AT YOUR CUSTOMERS. I don\’t understand how advertisers/stations (whoever is behind it) can get away with the blatant increase in the volume of the audio. You\’re cruising along watching a program at a comfortable level only to be consistently attacked by a BLARING commercial. Happens every time I turn on the tv.

    Comment by cw -

  16. So how does a station get around the TIVO factor? Will we start to see all channels with ads framed around the picture like we sometimes see with soccer games (and was also satirized in the film \”Idiocracy\”)?

    Comment by Bill -

  17. I dont know about the girls gone wild commercials…but you hit it right on the spot, and I think you should take those same values to the cell phone industry because these large companies continue to go further and further away from what the customer needs and wants.

    Comment by Adam Pritchard -

  18. It\’s been pointed out by way better posters than me above, but this is a pretty relativistic argument.

    One can argue that the anti-aging cream being sold by major cosmetics firm X using 18 year old model Y as an example of what to expect from the product is a prime example of a rip-off – i.e. she doesn\’t use the product – and as she is 18, does not need it. Or the RGX commercials with the hot chick – the implication being that the hot girl will dig you in RGX, etc. The purpose of commercials is to point out/create insufficiency and hawk a solution – its improbability of success be damned (see lottery tickets). IMO the difference here is really production values and subtlety. In fact, I\’ll argue that a late night proactiv commercial/infomercial with real untouched before and after photos has more integrity than a revlon commercial starring supermodel du jour.

    That said, there are some infomercials that pitch awesome products, like those girls gone wild lasses scantily pursuing higher ed.

    All of which to say – commercials are what they are – a brainfsck – some are subtle and smooth like Glenlivet, others are straight shots of 151. Guess you\’re a glenlivet kind of guy.

    Comment by blyx -

  19. Mr. Cuban, this is why I love you… to put it simply, you are brilliant 🙂

    Comment by Cyndi -

  20. it is arrogance. the same arrogance that makes tv execs think \’they\’ know the internet better than the internet players. the same arrogance that prevent them from maximizing their content revenue by partnering w/key internet players.

    good to see u don\’t share that arrogance… or at least until YouTube is mentioned 🙂

    Comment by echotoall -

  21. It is free enterprise. Anybody can sell anything they want within reason; as long as no one gets hurt. Buyer beware, blah, blah, blah.

    From the station\’s point of view, revenue is revenue and if they can exceed what normal ads bring in with an infomercial it becomes a valid option.

    You are strictly speaking ethics of course. I frankly agree with you, but could care less. Seriously.

    Oh btw, update your copyright notice on the blog Mark – still reflecting 2006.

    Comment by Jim Dorey -

  22. Good post. I think the problem comes from the fact that many stations now view advertisers as their true customers. It\’s a sorry state of affairs.

    Comment by Dustin -

  23. Mr Cuban, a lot of the commercial time being bought by the scammers is done through local stations and local cable. The networks have some standards, but these low level ad salesmen are told to sell the local stuff at all costs, and live on commission, so it is tough to not sell to scumbags when you have to eat.

    Comment by jbou -

  24. Funny I watched 3 of those infomercials. I now have washboard abs, drive a Rolls, and a Speciman the women are \”sweat dancing\” for!!!!

    Comment by Ramsey -

  25. Look at the newspapers or just print in general. There are numerous ads for fraudulent schemes in very reputable publications. None of them care because the business model is about how many eyeballs will see the ad, and the purchase/subscription price is either inadequate or nonexistent. That\’s why Google and the like are killing them slowly; in 20 years time print will be a niche industry for senior citizens.

    Comment by Siggyboss -

  26. unfortuantely, it is a sign of our declining moral and ethical culture, for several reasons.
    1. It is clearly obvious that the television stations main purpose is to make a buck(nothing wrong with that, its what makes our economy strong), but that\’s also the main purpose of a two bit hooker. It is sad that bits and pieces of our society will cheapen themselves to make a few extra dollars. Remember when after midnight, local tv stations would constantly play the national athemn with the american flag in the background? I have to say to the women of the night and i guess, television stations…have pride in yourselves and your product. DON\’T SELL YOURSELVES SHORT, YOUR WORTH MORE THAN THAT!
    2. Greed…in several ways
    I might watch a little of these get rich scams and think to myself, \”who is buying this stuff\”…\”if there\’s no one purchasing these plans, could they be paying for this time\”. It stands to reason that someone is purchasing this junk, which brings me to my next point. The only people getting ripped off by these products are greedy people. You have to have dollar signs in your eyes to really believe that you can make an \”extra\” 20000k in your spare time.
    3. greed again…Money ruins everything that once was intended for pleasure. Money has pretty much ruined every sport i enjoyed as a kid. With big money comes watering down of the sport to reach a larger markets, bigger attitudes, etc. I loved the nba as a child and now as a young adult, i can barely choke down a few quarters. Hip Hop this and hip hop that, its just all about me and what can i get. i\’m just as much of a captialist as anyone, but we really need to reconsider our motives. bigger is not always better. KISS
    4. something that drives me crazy and i\’ll use the nba as an example, but applies to all the major sports, is when a player gets in trouble and all of a sudden he or she is not a role model, but watch a game and notice the commercials showing players building houses and reading to children.

    Mark, you keep me interested in the nba. David Stern has ruined the game. Keep up the good work and maybe one day i\’ll have a reason to take my children to a game.

    Comment by Brad Gainous -

  27. I work in advertising for Deutsch Inc. and part of my job is to help spots get cleared through the networks. I can tell you that in the last few years the networks have actually got significantly tougher about what kinds of spots and claims within those spots they\’ll accept. In addition, many cable networks now require this clearance where just a few years ago only the major networks did.

    I see the same junk you do but it runs in places that major advertisers dont want to be or during time periods that arent desirable.

    Comment by Jayme Maultasch -

  28. Mark,

    I am in agreement completely.

    Your customers will associate your product with value. So everything you do reflects on the value.

    However, I am seeing commercials that are funnier and more \”worth my time\” in the last few months.

    All commercial makers shouldn\’t be lumped in together since some are actually good.

    If you wouldn\’t mind explaining the last part of your post. What do you mean by: \”if you haven\’t SOLD a commercial…\”

    Comment by Antonio Howell -

  29. I\’m not sure that a less-than-honest commercial reflects badly on the station airing it. I\’ve been ripped off by things before, but I don\’t go to the TV station I saw the ad on or the newspaper I read the ad in. I think it\’s normal to assume TV stations are not in the business of recommending products to their viewers and that it is up to the viewer to filter the good products from the bad.

    If a friend recommended one of those products to me, that would be a different story. I don\’t value a TV station\’s opinion on products and therefore I don\’t hold it responsible if I end up getting burned on a product it ran an advertisement for.

    Comment by Jon Graves -

  30. It\’s a sign of the end of broadcast television as we know it. Remember that you need to make the distinction between broadcasters and cable channels. With many people receiving their \”TV\” via cable or satellite, the broadcasters are losing audience share.

    Thus the proliferation of the 30 Minute paid commercials. They were once the content of cable channels; but as the more forwarding thinking companies realize that content is king – they are producing more programming for cable. Syndicators are getting better deals and less headaches selling to cable and dropping the broadcast distribution channel. This broadcasters have less original content, so they fall into the trap of running the 30 minute commercials for quick cash. Thus driving viewers away.

    With the Analog Cut-Off less than 2 years away, I suspect that we will see the number of broadcasters decrease as they will be unable to compete in the market for both local and original content.

    Comment by Don Moore -

  31. Yes, this tendency is lame. It is also prevalent.

    For conventional networks, TV stations, radio, etc. the audience is not the customer; rather, the audience is the product. The advertiser is the customer.

    It reminds me of a line from Vogel\’s Entertainment Industry Economics. He begins a chapter on television with this definition — \”programming: the scheduled interruption of marketing messages.\” While we out in the audience might view commercials as noise, to the station owner these represent the signal.

    The best bet these days is to watch a good TV show after at least one season is on DVD.

    Comment by Joel -

  32. Speaking of ripoffs, has anyone heard the stuff that Donald Trump is selling that will make people rich? I know that Mark has complained about Trump U in the past, but now he is all over my am radio dial. Why would he lend his name to this junk?

    Comment by Jason -

  33. Kevin Trudeau has made millions upon millions, ripping people off. He\’s used commercials and informercials entirely to do it. While you\’re likely to get my respect and business for not ripping of customers (honest mechanics make damned good money), the proof is in the pudding, unfortunately. As long as people keep getting away with it, there\’ll be more and more of them out there.

    Comment by Kirk -

  34. Sales departments look at numbers in a quarterly fashion.

    Anything to make those numbers go up, that no one complains about… Well, there you go.

    Comment by Joseph Mastantuono -

  35. What could possibly cheapen a station more than running Girls Gone Wild commercials?

    Comment by David -

  36. ideally I agree, but what about freedom of speech?

    Comment by Scotty D -

  37. You\’ve got to be a pretty easy mark if you fall for one of these schemes, but where do you draw the line?

    Should networks refuse to air ads for high interest loan/mortgage firms? Gaming companies? State lotteries?

    It\’s not the networks responsibility to be advertising czars, they\’re facing pressure from online and will always accept the best offer.

    Feel free to report any of these \’ripoff commercials\’ to the FTC/FCC, that\’s their job.

    Comment by Adam Cains -

  38. I guess you won\’t be selling Don Lapre any ad time soon. He looks like your kid brother. You want to talk about rip-offs my man, look at the healthcare industy–$2.2 trillion in spending last year. Lots of room for rip-offs in an industry of that size. Take the pharma industry ($220 billion in spending), and I quote Mike Guarini, president of Ogilvy Healthworld, in an interview with a pharmaceutical advertising trade magazine, \”…it\’s about getting patient\’s in doctors\’ offices, getting them diagnosed and on medication.\”—-Medical Marketing and Media Magazine April 2007 issue page 41

    If you want to save us from being ripped off by crooks, start with guys like this. They are more harmful than low lifes like Carlton Sheets pitching real estate.

    Comment by Scott Norris -

  39. Good Point…I have always wondered why they run these on main stations. Maybe that is why the big three are falling behind. You don\’t see these on Bravo or other stations that are coming into their own. They are producing cool new shows and then replaying them to get viewership and drive brand.

    Comment by J Sandifer -

  40. Even if there aren\’t many viewers, it still erodes the brand. You may stumble upon this junk TV and change the channel, but over time you\’ll know which stations have junk TV and which don\’t. The brand gets eroded regardless of whether or not you stick around for the experience.

    Comment by Dewey Hammond -

  41. A great observation, Mark. It is especially appalling that so many of the commercials that air on talk radio are for highly questionable get rich quick schemes. Those shows are the product of individual hosts who seem to value their integrity, and then apparently sell it to the highest bidder during the breaks.

    Comment by Trey Tomeny -

  42. Most of these ripoff commercials are in non-primetime hours with few viewers and probably a cheaper per minute price.

    Fewer viewers means that there will be little to no brand dilution of the TV station. Cheaper per minute price means that demand and supply is working. Given the timing, it isn\’t worth a national brand\’s money to air any commercials. Hence the ripoff commercials are a great source of income since they can only afford to air commercials in times where little people are watching TV. The alternative would be no commercials at all.

    If the argument is that these commercials damage the station brand, then you would have to assume that the viewer stays to watch these commercials, not change channels, and then decide not to watch this station any more. Most would change channels.

    Not sure what is very wrong with this.

    Comment by Eric Lam -

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