People Share The Times They’ve Been Duped By Diabolical Marketing Schemes

Marketing can be tricky. For decades, companies have employed scientifically-proven methods of marketing products toward consumers that make them more inclined to purchase. Whether it’s the use of certain colors to evoke feelings, the shape and font used on a label, or the placement of a product on store shelves, there are many tactics companies use to get money from shoppers.

So, if you’ve ever found yourself purchasing an item that you really had no intention of buying, don’t feel too bad — it’s not entirely your fault. Marketing methods have become so advanced and effective that many times people don’t even realize they’re being heavily persuaded. If there’s any group of people who truly understand this reality, it’s these shoppers, who recently shared the times they’ve been duped by diabolical marketing schemes.

Don’t forget to check the comment section below the article for more interesting stories!

#35 The Light For A Bright White Smile

I naively bought into the light that some companies use to advertise their teeth whitening gel.

I went to a continuing education course for dental hygienists and the instructor asked, “What does the light do?”

We all answered, “Nothing.”

The instructor replied, “Wrong. It makes the patient happy.”


#34 Packing In The Protein

I work in a grocery store and the other day, an older gentleman showed me a can of tuna he had gotten from the shelf. He was very confused by the wording. On the top, it said in bold, yellow and black font that there were 24 grams of protein in every can. On the nutritional label, it said that there were only 12 grams of protein.

I tried for several minutes to explain to him that there are two servings in each can and that the nutritional label showed the amount per serving. The big marketing text on top was simply the amount of protein for the whole can. We went back and forth and I just couldn’t make him understand. Then he asked me how it was possible to fit 24 grams of protein into five ounces of tuna.

I told him that if I knew how to do the math, I wouldn’t be working in a grocery store.


#33 What The Doctor Ordered

I hate when they use “doctors” to recommend specific products. There’s this one TV show where you watch these so-called medical professionals simply repeat the facts from commercials and a lot of people still eat it up, without actually looking into the products. Since the show is successful, I presume their “recommendations” are selling fairly well.


#32 Financing Their Way To Upsells

The “finance person” at the car dealership. You sit across from his desk after you’ve sealed the deal. Yes, they’re registering it and getting your plates, but he’s also upselling left and right. Upgrades to the car, additional warranties, steering you toward a certain lender, etc. A lot of their profits are made in that little meeting.


#31 A Cup Of Christmas Controversy

The controversy over the Starbucks holiday cup. It was either last year or the year before when they unveiled their solid red cups for the holiday season. Suddenly there was MASS OUTRAGE by Christian groups. Turns out, it all started from one blog that wrote a Christian satire piece on the campaign. The news picked up the story, ran with it, and released back-to-back hour coverage for several days.

To no one’s surprise, Starbucks saw massive profit increases, as they probably will this holiday when the cycle repeats again.


#30 Inappropriate Proportions

Portioning of everyday use items. Laundry detergent, Alka-Seltzer and toothpaste all show on their packaging that you have to use way more than you need to. Alka-Seltzer, in particular, started showing two tablets dissolving on the box to get people to finish the box faster and buy more.


#29 Scheming To The Unsuspecting

Every “get rich quick” scheme ever. They lure you in with promises of earning big money in just a few months, but what most people don’t realize is that the fancy cars, mansions, maids and butlers they use in their presentations are all rented. They purposely create an image of wealth and influence so that people will be more inclined to buy their eBooks or whatever overpriced “coaching subscription” they offer to unsuspecting victims.

 Their “seminars” aren’t about teaching YOU how to get rich, it’s about tricking people into making THEM get rich.


#28 Stirring Up Controversy For Sales

Putting plus size women on the cover of magazines.

Cosmo has been making money off of women’s insecurities for over 100 years. Do you really think they care about Tess Holliday and changing mainstream beauty ideals?

They’re trying to sell magazines by stirring up controversy, and it’s working!


#27 Marketing With A (Targeted) Message

Some companies produce a marketing message that stands behind a social message, despite the fact that they themselves don’t necessarily believe in the message.

In doing this, the company aligns itself to principle and targets those who align to that principle to buy its products.


#26 Walking Billboards

Wearing overpriced, name-brand apparel where the only decoration or main feature is the brand name all over it. People become free marketing tools, or walking billboards, essentially. I acknowledge the sense behind this, in terms of the customer wanting to send signals on something social, like one’s spending power, class, or whatever. But still… I have always found this cringe-worthy.


#25 False Sense Of Eco-Friendliness

Brown or green packaging. It either makes 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.


#24 Cars, Rings, And Bling

Wedding rings. Traditionally, wedding rings were never a thing that people gave to one another when they decided to get married and have kids. They’re the biggest scams ever, but they’ve become so ingrained in society that if you don’t buy someone a ring, you apparently don’t love them anymore.

Even when people are aware that it’s all just a marketing ploy, they still want a ring to show off to their friends and family. For some reason, buying a “used” or second-hand ring is sacrilegious. Excuse me for wanting to take advantage of some other idiot’s stupidity and save myself thousands of dollars that I can use on a honeymoon or lawyer when the marriage goes sideways.

Paint protection is another one. When you buy a new car, they sell you some paint protection plan that requires you to come back every six months… but it’s literally just some dude polishing your car. Save yourself some cash and polish it yourself, or take it to a detailer and he will do it for half of what the dealership charges you. Usually, they get the sales girl to try and sell you extra stuff you don’t need, so guys, be warned. As a matter of fact, don’t even buy a new car. Buy a decent second-hand car and save yourself the 30% depreciation for driving the car home. The only caveat is if it’s a business expense. Then you claim that bad boy on tax.


#23 Unnecessary Gains

The assertion that you need quick protein (such as whey powder) immediately after strength training to maximize gains is a lie. The evidence clearly does not support this. The only possible exception is if you train in a fasted state, but even that is still not definitive.

The fitness industry thrives on broscience!


#22 No More GMOs

Organic and non-GMO products.

While organic products have some positives, for the most part, it’s no better for the consumer. It’s really only pesticides and herbicides that cause any environmental issues, but making organic products also means using more land to make up for smaller yields.

GMOs are totally fine. They have gotten a bad reputation because of their one downfall of allowing for more pesticide usage. However, enabling plants to resist flood damage and adding certain bonuses to foods is not a bad thing at all.

All this stuff is mostly just marketing at this point. We see organic and non-GMO products and assume they’re always better, when really they may not be at all. They just sound good.

I say this as someone who wants to start a small organic farm.


#21 Scrap Versus Special Edition

You know how the Dum Dum suckers have mystery flavors? Those are just what’s made at the end of one flavor in the machines and at the start of another.

The only difference between scrap and “special edition” is marketing.


#20 The Trouble With Thigh Gaps

My 14-year-old daughter is really insecure about her thighs and believes that she should have a “thigh gap.” What she doesn’t realize is that nobody cared about thigh gaps until very recently. Big fashion companies just put another bug in women’s ears, telling them once again that they’re not good enough.


#19 Not The Brightest Bulb

Four days ago, my wife and I went to buy a specific type of light bulbs. Just based on the package, she picked out the two-pack of light bulbs for $12, but we needed six for our chandelier. If we went with her light bulbs, we would have had to pay $36 in total.

I found a bargain brand six-pack for $3. She insisted we buy both and return the lesser of the two. I got my $36 dollars back!


#18 Sponsored YouTube Videos

YouTube videos. I can’t watch make-up, fashion, home decor, cleaning or hair tutorials without a “shout out to [company name] for sponsoring this video.”

The most ridiculous one I saw was in an organizing video I was watching. The person said: “Special thanks to Scott’s Toilet Paper for sponsoring this video! I don’t know about you guys, but my favorite toilet paper has always been Scott’s”.


#17 Marketing Through Make-up

Make-up tutorials. Many of them are arranged by the make-up companies to promote new products.


#16 The “Blair Witch Project” Bamboozle

I worked at a movie store when “The Blair Witch Project” came to theaters. A number of people came in to talk about it and thought it was real. The movie did a really good job of letting people get the wrong impression and making them question if it was real or not.


#15 Grocery Sale Prices

At most grocery stores, when a product is listed as “10 for $10” or “2 for $5,” you don’t actually have to buy the listed amount to get the sale price unless the sign specifically says so.


#14 Catching Expensive ZzZ’s

ZzQuil is just liquid Benadryl… Very expensive liquid Benadryl.

Also, 5-Hour Energy is pretty much just liquid vitamin B at an inflated price.


#13 The Fakeness Of Foam

Soap that foams when it’s dispensed. It’s a complete and utter marketing scam. They put a bunch of foaming agents in these soaps to make you think they’re actually working well (since they’re already foaming when they come out of the dispenser). But really, they’re devoid of compounds that actually do the job.


#12 Pandering For Ticket Sales

Film studios that lean heavily into diversity (i.e. Ghostbusters) don’t care about your racial representation or your feminism. They just want your money. There are lots of movies, good and bad, with diverse casts that don’t have to use the controversy surrounding them as a marketing trick. It’s an old strategy. They want demographics! That’s why weird casting decisions like Samuel Jackson as a stoic space monk in the Star Wars prequels happen.

I wish people would get more outraged that these big, soulless movie production companies are using their race, culture, and gender as a pandering tactic for ticket sales.


#11 Getting Honest About Apple

The idea that you need an Apple computer no matter what.

Just because Apple is the best choice for client-facing startups, designers and iOS developers, does not mean it’s automatically the best choice for everyone. If all you ever use on your Apple computer is Facebook, you’ve overpaid for your laptop. If you need top performance, you won’t get it from Apple either (thin and quiet is apparently more important in a productivity laptop than proper cooling). Apple is of excellent value, but only if your needs are in the middle.


#10 The Tactics Of Toy Selling

Toys being sold out in early- to mid-December.

Parents promise toys to their children before they have bought them, but when they get to stores, all of them have been sold. So the parents buy something in that toy’s place.

The guilt of false promises after the holidays causes the parent to buy the originally promised toy, turning one sale into two.


#9 The Core Of Computer Parts

Core i3, Core i5, Core i7. The metrics used to make sense but not so much anymore now that computers have aged. For those of you who don’t understand computer parts, let me ask you a question, Which computer do you think is better: the i7 or the i5? If you guessed the i7, you’ve fallen victim to marketing.

Not all i7s are better than every single i5. Just because it’s a bigger number, doesn’t mean it’s more advanced. Don’t fall ploy to that marketing scheme.


#8 The Price-Match-Guarantee Gimmick

If you have a department store that offers a price match guarantee for any other retailer within your local area, you should know that they have ways around it.

For example, Mitre 10, a Home Depot equivalent in New Zealand, promises this: “If you find a better price on the same stocked item, we’ll beat it by 20%.” It all sounds good, except that they are trying to replace most products with their home brands.

You can try going down the road and find the exact same product, but it’s in a different kind of packaging. Therefore, it doesn’t qualify, though it probably came from the same factory in China.


#7 Santa Claus’ Clothing

Santa Claus only wears red because of Coke ads. Before that, he wore green.


#6 Department Store Sale Deception

In department stores, everything is always on sale. The majority of people will see a $100 jacket for $40 and think they actually scored an amazing deal at 60% off. In reality, that jacket has never been (and will never be priced) at $100.


#5 The Miracle Of Weight Loss

Miracle weight loss videos. I watched one once and it was just 15 minutes of how “weight loss will save you.” They simply recommended people to stay away from grain and carbs and suggested a bunch of “nutrient supplements” from specific brands which cost megabucks. Really sad to see people still exploiting obese people.


#4 Too Smart For Their Own Good

My mother loves to do these terrible online IQ tests that tell her she has genius-level intelligence, then present her with ads for puzzles and games that say: “We think someone of your superior intellect would enjoy.” She eats it all up. Some of the games are free but I’m sure she’s paid for a few of them and she won’t believe me when I say the careful flattery of her intelligence is just a sales technique to soften her up.

Welp, at least she enjoys the games and isn’t desperately poor or anything.


#3 Not-So-GoodWill

Goodwill is a store that markets itself as a charity but is actually a thinly veiled retail operation that makes money on your donations.

There have been a few posts online about them over the years. If you want to do good, donate to the Salvation Army or your local church.


#2 Late Show Plugs

Late night talk shows. They’re all just mechanisms to push whatever stuff celebrities are selling. They get their plug, the network gets its segments and commercials, you get your celebrity fix and everybody wins… Kinda.


#1 When In Doubt

As someone who works in marketing, basically, everything is duping you.