Sometimes companies buy ad space that lets them cover up the actual covers of magazines. Sometimes they make it obvious that the wrapper isn’t the real cover, and sometimes they don’t, because if you can convince someone that their favorite magazine is shilling your product in one of their featured articles, you win, right?
This recent example of this kind of deceptive cover ad is from a recent issue of Maxim and is for the drug 5-Hour Energy. Here’s what the readers of the magazine saw on the cover:
The page after it was the actual cover. The backside of this fake cover continued the ad:
The product didn’t have any other ads in the issue and, unsurprisingly, no articles were about it (I have no idea if it was mentioned in passing anywhere, but it’s remotely possible, regardless, it wasn’t featured anywhere prominently).
While the cover generally mimics Maxim covers (sexy girl, little else of note), it’s actually not really very much like actual Maxim covers. For one thing, Maxim cover girls are rarely wearing that much clothing (and when they are, it’s not all properly buttoned up like that). They wear trashy lingerie and have poses to match most of the time. And backgrounds of any kind are rare indeed (why distract from the sexy girl?).
All that said, the ad is surprisingly coherent. It sticks to it’s school theme well.
Still, it’s deceptive, which doesn’t seem like a great move for a product that feels more than a little shady to begin with. This probably wasn’t the best choice. The target audience they were trying to reach is likely to be more interested in the girl (and even more interested in the less clothed girl on the real cover on the next page) than bothering to read the information or remember the product. I don’t like this ad very much, even beyond the sexy girl or the venue it’s trying to mimic. I think the choice to try and deceive the reader was a poor one and the ad itself isn’t that compelling.
What do you think? Are deceptive ads like this a good idea? Does this one work?