A little boy in Sweeney Todd, corrals a crowd at a farmer’s market to sell Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir—an oil guaranteed to stimulate hair growth. Now, Sweeney Todd took place in 1846. One might assume people were more gullible than they are today. What a bunch of suckers, lining up to buy a bottle of “piss with ink,” as Sweeney Todd said. They were in desperate need of self improvement … they just went about it all wrong.
But, groups of suckers exist in 2018.. We’re always eager for the next magical product that will help us do the unbelievable: Regrow hair, melt body fat, improve our social skills!
Look at Shapewear – it gives the illusion of a flat stomach. A guy meets a woman while wearing Shapewear. They have a few drinks and head back to his place. When he removes his Shapewear, his gut pops out. The woman is stunned—the man is not so lean after all.
The reason we’re so gullible and eager to try new things is because we are miserable, insecure, and lazy. We always have been, which is why Pirelli was able to sell the Miracle Elixir in London in the 1800s, and why someone is able to push miracle weight loss vitamins on Facebook today.
Different medium, same effect: Targeting insecurities. Until we are able to overcome our hang ups, we will line up to buy Snake Oil, making salesmen rich from our self loathing.
I know a stay-at-home mom who had nothing to do during the day. A friend told her about weight loss vitamins she sells on Facebook. My friend thought this was a great way to supplement her family’s income and give her something to do. She sold the vitamins.
She noticed that the other sales women used before and after photos. But my friend had never been overweight, she had no “before” photos. But she did have photos of her pregnancy. She posted these photos and claimed that was how she looked recently! She knew she was deceiving people. Even her friends knew. But they didn’t care because in the moment, they saw their insecure selves in her “before” photos.
Strangers who saw these photos didn’t realize that this woman had experienced such great weight loss—not because of the vitamins—but because of unadulterated hard work. She ate properly, exercised. meditated, and did yoga.
The one problem with the hard work? If she had pitched that concept, she wouldn’t make money. The only way to put an end to these snake oil salesmen is to improve our own self confidence by, perhaps, doing what my friend did—working hard and eating right. Until we can improve our self confidence, we’ll be lining up to buy “piss with ink.”