Saturday, December 18, 2004

Quest for Advertisers Lands Air America in Bed With Repugnant Huckster

You've probably heard the advertisements.

Get rich quick by speculating on gold or buying foreclosed real estate. Lose weight. Get ridiculously inexpensive life insurance. Improve your resume by receving your college degree online.

Radio stations nationwide often turn to these lesser advertisers to bring in much-needed capital. It's especially true for stations with low ratings, or in weaker advertising markets. Such stations can't charge as much, and this particular class of advertisers can't afford to spend as much.

It's also true for fledgling networks, like ESPN Radio and Fox News Radio a few years back, and more recently, Air America.

Generally speaking, there's nothing wrong with accepting this kind of advertising. Free enterprise is good for the country. Assuming the given station or network has verified the advertiser as legitimate, and as long as buyers understand that something that sounds too good to be true often is, the system works.

***

I listen to Air America most weekdays driving to or from work. And one advertiser that pops up occasionally is hypnotist Wendi Friesen, who has more than 100 products for sale on various web sites.

Now, I have nothing against hypnosis CDs. But if you are familiar with Penn & Teller's Showtime series, you might remember an episode a few months back in which they look closely at some of Friesen's products. Turns out Friesen not only hawks cds for confidence building or smoking cessation, but also ones in which she claims she can help increase breast or penis size.

And, amazingly, she offers a tape that she claims will help you fight cancer.

Her promotional paragraph for the "Heal Your Body" CD:

"One of our best selling CDs. Designed for those with cancer, chronic or other serious illness, this program inspires you to choose LIFE, stimulates your immune system to fight, and some say ... creates miracles. Three sessions, one will access your ability to heal, the second will strengthen your immune system, another will cleanse your body of bacteria, viruses and toxins. This process can help to speed the healing of surgery, illness, or even a cold or sore throat."

I find this repugnant, and dangerous for anyone who decides Friesen's $29 cd is a worthy alternative to a trip to the doctor, a biopsy, chemotherapy, etc.

This hits close to home because I am a cancer survivor. On Dec. 12th, I celebrated my third anniversary of a successful adult stem cell transplant, which cured me of acute myeloid leukemia. Unfortunately, my father, who developed a similar leukemia in 2002, did not have a donor match, and succumbed to the disease after a 10-month fight.

***

I explained all of this to the Air America advertising representative, Barbara Brown (646-274-4900, ext. 3087), saying simply that Air America shouldn't be this desperate. Friesen doesn't advertise the cancer-healing hypnosis CD on Air America -- a get-out-of-jail-free card, apparently, for Air America's decision-makers -- but she offers the product on the web site she mentions in the Air America spot.

I suggested to Brown that if a known neo-Nazi organization was selling guns through an affiliate that advertised on Fox News Radio, people would be up in arms. Guilt by association, perhaps. But parallels could be made between that hypothetical and the Friesen ads on Air America.

Brown, the ad rep who landed the Friesen account, said she understood my complaint. In fact, she said, several of the on-air personalities had lodged a similar complaint.

Two weeks have passed since my 20-minute telephone call, yet Air America continues to broadcast Friesen's ads. So now I'm asking family and friends to call Brown, and I'm asking JABBS readers to do the same.

Bottom line: If I hear an on-air radio or television personality spew lies, I respond by either calling to complain, or posting an item on JABBS. If I see rampant spin appear in a newspaper article, whether it's in the New York Times or New York Post, I complain.

This isn't much different. Friesen is spewing the lie that hypnosis can help you fight cancer (or grow your breasts or penis). There is no medical evidence to support that theory, and there never will be. And while it's a shame that people will waste money hoping that listening to a CD will help them grow their breasts or penis, it's a potentially fatal decision to listen to a hypnosis CD hoping it will help your immunity system fight cancer.

2 Comments:

Blogger donna said...

All I really want is my $150 per month.

I'm in my early 40s. I've been paying into Social Security for about 20 years. When my work life is over, I'd like to get my money back -- my measly $150/month.

But Herr Bush has embarked on an unjustifable war that has already cost $230 billion, and now he wants to take my Social Security payments away from me.

Everything Bush stands for is crap -- more than crap. Everything Bush stands for boils down to this: taking away a measly monthly payment away from a little old lady (i.e., me in about 20 years).

Bush, and his extremist fellows (for everything Bush is is EXTREMIST by defintion) stands for unspeakable depravity on the part of US soldiers, who were forced to follow the orders of Rumsfeld et.al. at Abu Graib and Guantanamo.

He -- Herr Bush -- stands for the destruction of everything we value as Americans under our current system, and everything we've valued about our history.

Bush is, essentially, the Anti-Madison. The Anti-Jefferson. The Anti-American.

The Quintessential Anti-American.

I challenge anyone and everyone on this comment list to provide me with any tiny bit of information -- anything at all -- that would prove that Bush is an any way AN AMERICAN, in the way that all of us understand what America, and Americans, are.

His war, and his plan to take my $150 Social Security payments away, constitute the end of the United States of America, as we have known it.

ps: he stole the election. He did not win the Electoral vote, nor is there any proof that he won the popular vote.

3:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In all fairness, many researchers have commented that when an oncologist comes in and tells a cancer patient "you have six months to live" or "get your affairs in order", the doctor has just killed his patient. The patient becomes depressed, their immune system tanks and they quit trying. Hypnotic treatment that gives a person hope and makes them fight helps the person to survive cancer. I don't think Wendi would claim her CD is a substitute for cancer treatment but rather is an important adjunct to that treatment. In this sense, what Wendi claims is true.

I find you "repugnance" like the scientist in the movie "Starship Troopers" who said that he found the idea of intellegent bugs reprugnant and therefore the bugs could not be intellegent. I called this close-minded elitism.

My mother was told by an oncologist that she also had myeloid leukemia and less one year to live. She was told they need to start chemotherapy immediately (stem cell transplants didn't exist back then). She said no, went home, planted her own garden and fruit trees, and caught fish in the river that runs next to her property. That was over 35 years ago. Her 90th birthday is Friday. I suppose treating leukemia with nutrician is quakery too and I'm just imagining that she is alive.

3:14 PM  

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