With Alli, my lunch is in my pants

Alli might help you lose weight, as long as you don’t mind oily stools

(Photo courtesy of J. Star, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike)

OK, so I know that what you blog about is a more-or-less semi-permanent record of you. Plus, I have clients who read this blog. And I might be just a little more over the top than usual with this post, but there’s a real marketing problem with a new product and I think the marketer’s response to that problem is…uh…interesting.

Have you heard of Alli, the new over-the-counter medication for weight loss? It’s a low-dose version of orlistat, a drug that prevents the absorption of fat. That can lead to weight loss for those taking the drug.

The problem with orlistat is that fat that doesn’t get absorbed…it…uh…passes, if you know what I mean. This can potentially create an oily mess.

Imagine being the marketing people for Alli: you want to sell this thing in big, big numbers, but it has this indelicate side effect. And you have to disclose it.

What’s the solution? To them it must have seemed easy: make a helpful recommendation about how to deal with the heartbreak of panty-rear oily streaks.

On www.myalli.com, there’s a “treatment effects” page with this chirpy sounding suggestion for working people on Alli:

Until you have a sense of any treatment effects, it’s probably a smart idea to wear dark pants, and bring a change of clothes with you to work

Now, I have to tell you that any product that pretty much insures users will need to cover up the product’s nasty effects with dark clothes or even keep a supply of adult diapers nearby has a serious marketing problem. And this kind of copy makes it even worse.

Anybody who reads about Alli in the newspaper or looks at the packaging is sure to hear about this side-effect. Why make it worse with a “helpful” suggestion? Isn’t Alli targeted at adults, who presumably know what the implications of this side effect are?

To my ears, this over-the-top effort to be helpful backfires, and does so badly. Far from being useful, it just simply makes the product sound so revolting that I suspect millions will be put off.

This is a simple case of the marketing people just saying too much and overreaching to be “helpful”.





6 responses to “With Alli, my lunch is in my pants”

  1. […] often use my blog to diss marketing that’s stupid, misleading, dangerous or derivative.  This time it’s my pleasure to share marketing that’s on it…at the […]

  2. […] time to bash the purported “weight loss” drug Alli again. Last summer, I both railed against and sympathized with the marketers of this “miracle drug.” I empathized with the plight of marketers […]

  3. Alex Neihaus Avatar
    Alex Neihaus

    Once again, I apologize and I hope my attribution is acceptable. Thank you for allowing me to use your image.

  4. J. Star Avatar

    It’s mine. Glad to see my butt being used in a conversation about oily stools, ha ha! 🙂

    The CC on this pic is Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, so you’re free to use it, as long as you credit me (and my large posterior). Thanks!

    J. Star

  5. Alex Neihaus Avatar
    Alex Neihaus

    My most sincere apologies. I can’t remember where I got this image, but if you if tell me which CC license you are using, I will be happy to attribute as you specify.

  6. albert Avatar

    if you’re going to use someone’s image, especially if they’ve gone to all the effort of making it available under Creative Commons, you can at least credit them and their work!

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