This commercial pitch uses the approach of offering the consumer secret information that some industry "doesn't want you to know about". This can be investment tips the financial industry doesn't want you to know about. Miracle cures the medical industry doesn't want you to know about. Tax tips the IRS doesn't want you to know about. Even low furniture prices
the other stores don't want you to know about.
You're not supposed to stop and think
that these secrets are being sold over the mass media and if these industries really didn't want you to know about them, you wouldn't.
See also The Man Is Sticking It to the Man
open/close all folders
- Kevin Trudeau's "X They Don't Want You To Know About" series of books and infomercials. While pretty much every All-Natural Snake Oil peddler has made grandiose claims about being suppressed by "Big Pharma" and the FDA, Trudeau is one of the few that got called on his schemes while he was still selling vitamins. Because of those schemes, selling books is about the only thing he can do now — anything else would land him in jail again, due to restrictions put on him by the FTC and the SEC.
- And land in jail again he has. In March 2014 Trudeau was sentenced to 10 years in prison for criminal contempt for violating prior court orders regarding claims in his infomercials.
- A local law firm that specializes in disability rights literally starts with "I'm going to tell you a government secret."
- Matthew Lesko, AKA "That guy in a suit borrowed from The Riddler" claims his book's full of money the US government's giving away and how to get it. There's only two problems with this: First, most of the information he's selling is in publications you can get for free from the government, and those documents are not secret in the slightest. Second, the reason most people don't know about these programs is that most people can't use them; they're meant for corporations, small businesses, and other organizations seeking grant money or startup capital. If you were looking to start a business, it might be useful, but you'd probably be better off going directly to the SBA for assistance.
- Car filters that'll add miles to your gas's performance. In principle, it makes sense; if cars were super-efficient, less gas would be sold, meaning less money for Big Oil. In practice, it's idiotic; the "100 MPG carburetor" of legend is pretty much fuel injection, which every modern car uses, and anything that involves magnets or forcefields won't work because magnets do not work that way.
- Uncle John's Bathroom Reader makes a very cogent point about those '1,000 Mile' filter claims: why would a car company sit quietly, for years, on a technology that adds hundreds of miles to an automobile's performance? It would make them a fortune on the open market, and since they could have a patent in a matter of months, it would give any of them a massive advantage over their competition.
- Likewise, if your friend brags about the amazing gas mileage his car will soon get and shows you the copper-coil-in-a-Mason jar rigging he just installed under the hood, hold onto your monocle for this one: your friend is an idiot.
- There was one commercial for a TV service competing against cable (probably Direc TV) where the woman narrating it says "she only has a few seconds to tell you what the cable company doesn't want you to know" because they're about to stop her.
- Credit Counseling/Debt Consolidation services "the credit card companies don't want you to know about". Ironic because a number of these services are operated by the credit card companies themselves: If you declare bankruptcy, credit card debt is most likely to get discharged, so they'd rather help you cut a deal and at least get something.
- A variant in the UK is ads for debt write-off services. These claim to be able to write off all debts taken out before 2007, either "thanks to a recent law change" or due to a "government scheme". All of this is lies; the worst that could be done is the debts are found unenforceable on a technicality, which is substantially different from a write off (the debt not being enforceable just means they can't take you to court over it, however you still owe the money and the bank can still mark you as having defaulted). Worse still, judges in cases that have gone to court have seen right through the intentions of people trying these technicalities and turned them down. Oh yeah, and this service costs money.
- A variant is keeping that information from their own management: "We will offer these low prices until our boss catches on" or "While the finance department is on vacation we can offer these low prices" or (for a radio station) "Our boss is away so we can give away these really cool prizes". This requires some Willing Suspension of Disbelief to work — normally, buying from someone that's admittedly deceiving their boss would be iffy at best, but since they're being honest to you about it, it can't be that bad!
- Especially during bleak economic times, this shows up in commercials attempting to sell "investors' kits" for the purchasing of stable commodities, particularly gold (at least in the United States). The pitch is that you're part of a wise secret club that's using information that those Wall Street fatcats don't want you to know about in order to make yourself recession-proof.
- Questionable beauty secrets (tooth whitening, flat belly, etc.) advertised in Web banners and, always and always, "discovered by a mom in your town." Practically all of these are hard sells (often with sneaky "free trials" that become expensive subscription plans without your permission) for products that you can find much cheaper at the drugstore or megamart. The weight-loss products in particular are pretty much just bulk laxatives, and they won't actually help you lose weight.
- From the Cable/Satellite Mudslinging file, Direc TV "hacks into" various cable channels encouraging alternative methods of viewing. Since the channels themselves retain national advertising time, they are free to take ads from whoever they want.
- A constant stream of ads, TV specials, shows, and movies about how you can beat the casinos. The casinos fund or support most of them.
- One banner ad is for a device with suitably impressive-looking switches, displays, buttons etc. that apparently generates free electricity, sold with the line "power companies hate this!".
- There are numerous other examples of "Group X hate this/him/her," advertising things like tooth whitening, weight loss or foreign language lessons. Similar to the questionable beauty secrets, these are frequently discovered by a mom or someone similar, suggesting that the big companies know about easy ways to do 'whatever,' were hiding it and are somehow powerless to stop a regular person from blowing their cover.
- Newsmax and other right-leaning websites have several advertisements about "Secrets liberals don't want you to know". Weirdly, you rarely see the opposite on Democratic Underground (though they have plenty of other "Group X hates this" advertisements, just none with "Secrets conservatives don't want you to know.")
- The "Language professors hate him!" ads for the Pimsleur method. Dr. Pimsleur was a real person (who died well before such ads were made) who developed a real language learning method that many people do find effective. He did not, however, make any ridiculous claims like it being possible to learn a language in ten days, and there are plenty of language professors who do appreciate Pimsleur and his work. Some of his ideas are still the basis of foreign language acquisition research today.
- A variant that's come up has been the 'weird trick' that enables you to lose weight, gain size in various intimate parts, pay off your credit card bill, banish diseases—and you name it. Newsmax has used this in a radio ad both alleging Obama Social Security cutbacks right around the corner and how to increase your monthly payments by using their 'weird trick'. The 'weird trick' in all instances of this seems to be that now, these adverts are not alleging a cover-up, so much as them accidentally gaining secret knowledge that even the conspirators haven't realized just yet. So in effect, you now have one up on them. Bypassing the target's defenses against claims of cover-up, these ads just say you were lucky enough to stumble upon this.
- The "Doctors/Dentists/Dermatologists hate her!" variant usually used to peddle some face cream, diet aid, skin treatment or dental cosmetic improvement. The usual hook is that this was serendipitously discovered by some mother or housewife seeking to save money, uses cheap readily available ingredients, and that she is now sharing it with YOU, leading to teeth-grinding on the part of the experts. Errr... the "Doctors Hate Her" bit would only really apply in societies such as the USA, where healthcare is paid for upfront. It carries less force in places like the UK, where medical treatment is free at the point of need. And it all looks fake as Hell if the original American advert has not been completely retailored for the local market - ie a "mom from Liverpool" is saving $$$ on her treatment. Besides, if a housewife HAD found a cheap medical solution and found a breakthrough solution with no side effects, doctors might be more inclined to admire her?
- Chuck Garabedian from The Simpsons episode "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo:"
Are you tired of missing out on the good things in life - family vacations, jet packs, solid gold dancers? Well, stick around, 'cause I'm gonna tell you the twelve savings secrets Wall Street won't tell you. Then, I'll show you the three ways to get back to the highway, [sotto:] including one shortcut those Wall Street fat cats don't want you to know!
- In this issue of Employee Manuals called "Throw them a bone". Right after "as confusing as possible" part.