Ever hear an expert review on a news segment or talk show? The experts might recommend a number of products and claim they’ve tried out the products themselves — and they’re experts appearing on reputable programs — so they must know what they’re talking about, right? Since they’re portrayed as independent reviewers, you may be more likely to believe what they say.
What if we told you these experts aren’t always as impartial as they seem, and what you’re hearing might be a sales pitch?
This was just the case when ADT, the home security company, hired experts in child safety, security and technology to promote their ADT Pulse monitoring system on news segments, talk shows, radio programs and blogs. Sure, the experts looked like they were praising ADT’s home security system simply because they believed it was fabulous. Want to know what really happened? ADT paid three spokespeople more than $300,000 to endorse their product.
Viewers at home were never told they were actually watching an ad. The fact that the reviewers recommended other products along with the ADT Pulse system only added to the impression that their review was impartial. And in most media appearances, it was never disclosed that there was any connection between ADT and the experts it paid.
ADT recently settled FTC charges that their endorsements deceived consumers. Moving forward, ADT must make it clear if they’re paying someone to promote their products.
The law says reviewers should disclose their connection to a company, but not all of them do. It’s a good idea to exercise some healthy skepticism about reviews on any product or service — positive and negative.