False advertising (or something)

Anyone who is familiar with watching History Channel/Discovery/TLC/Military Channel, etc after hours is probably aware of the series of commercials involving male enhancement advertising, or advertising for all manner of weigh loss/body fat reducing potions (including topical lotions for taking off body fat and those electric devices that supposedly do the same thing).

What I want to know is…how do they get away with peddling this stuff? I mean, pills that make you larger and give you more sexual energy (or whatever)?? Or pills that turn you from a whale (in picture number one) to some sleek model (in picture number two)?? Is it because a lot of products are ‘herbal’? Or because it’s after hours (I’ve noticed that a lot of the ads don’t come on until after 10pm local, but that might be because that’s generally when I get to the hotel room usually).

So…what’s the Straight Dope on these ads? How do these guys get away with this snake oil?


If you read the small print carefully they never claim to do anything other than be a supplement that may or may not cause weight loss and that advertised results are not typical.

Well, I could give you a long complicated answer but I really don’t have time now. I have to go to work and knock down a brick wall with my gigantic man tool.

And since they’re sold as supplements, not drugs, they don’t have to be licensed or evaluated by the FDA. That means they can look like drugs and be advertised by drugs (including ads that show actors dressed like doctors and playing the part of physicians) but since they are legally herbal supplements they are completely unregulated. They may kill you or they may do absolutely nothing.

I thought this was going to be more about how Discovery Channel doesn’t discover anything anymore, the History Channel doesn’t do history, and TLC doesn’t really learn you stuff any more.

No, that would be Network Decay.

Caution: TVTropes is a Schedule II narcotic and should be considered an extreme hazard to your free time and your vocabulary.

They don’t, at least not for long. The founder of the company behind Enzyte, for example, was convicted on a 112-count federal indictment and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

The company was bought out of bankruptcy and continues to run ads for the product, although they no longer offer any specific claims about what their product actually does.

I also wanted to add that a lot of these “snake oil” pitches aren’t just about selling you a worthless potion, it’s about locking you into a recurring monthly charge.

There’s a difference between “false advertising,” and “misleading” or “incorrect” or “not fully explained to a layman,” advertising.

My favourite example is a company advertising a “June White Sale,” and you go and find out June White died and they’re selling off her belongings.

First of all it says “male enhancement.” What exactly is that? Longer penis? Thicker penis? More sex? Longer sex time?

My second favourite example is from the Dick Van Dyke show:

Rob) I did not lie, you jumped to a conclustion
Laura) You made me jump
Rob) No, no, I may have lead you to the edge, but jumping was your own idea.

And THAT, is the key to advertising.

To save money, these companies should come up with combo ads

Male enhancement pill - APPLY DIRCTLY TO FOREHEAD :smack:

There is some small evidence that certain herbs, etc, will help some men get an erection.

Other can sometimes help some dudes lose a little weight. Not without some side effects, usually.

No, no… “Tape these around your dick with duct tape to increase your size.”


Come on, you’d totally buy it.

Oh yeah, MIGHTY PUTTY for the penis.

Male enhancement pill + APPLY DIRECTLY TO FOREHEAD =

“Congratulations, you’re a dickhead!”

And call in the next twenty minutes and I’ll double the offer! You’ll have a spare penis for the office or car. But wait! I’ll throw in a free Sham Wow to clear up any unexpected spills!!

I bought a Sham Wow. It’s actually quite good.

I think the Enzyte guy was jailed more for his bad business practices than false advertising. Apparently it was practically impossible to cancel your monthly shipment and billing. Phone staff were told to make it very hard for someone to cancel.

As is stated above, the company is still selling that shit.

That was one aspect of it, but they (the owner and much of the company’s staff) were charged with fraud, obstruction of FDA proceedings, conspiracy to obstruct the FTC, and something called “misbranding products.” Plus an assortment of charges related to bank fraud, wire fraud, money laundering ,etc. About a half dozen folks were convicted at trial and another half-dozen took plea deals.

You know, I’m constantly wanting to have a spare penis for my car. And all those trucks with the testicles hanging down from them, surely the owners are also in the market for vehicular penises…

Speaking of those “make you larger” commercials, I saw a new one recently in which they interviewed doctors. What was interesting is that the commercial changed the pitch. The doctors said that it improved the sexual experience/response, but did NOT say that it would make you larger like that same product’s other commercials.

I also like how they tell you the free sample will only cost you the price of a postage stamp. Apparently, they deal in $7.95 postage stamps, not the $0.44 ones I’m used to.