In the News: Creepy marketing stunts

A while ago, Meat and Livestock Australia started a really creepy marketing campaign. They set up oversized touch-screen fortune-telling machines in shopping centres, where people could go and get their fortune told. The image on the screen was styled after those goofy ‘Zoltar’ animatronic fortune telling machines. The character was a fairly racist Romani stereotype named ‘Miss Fortune.’ She gave out bad fortunes, but said that if you bought beef, your bad fortune would be better. The marketing team thought it was ‘light hearted fun,’ and didn’t stop to consider the possibility that there were people they were hurting with this ad campaign.  

Here’s an article on the Meat and Livestock Australia marketing stunt.

This kind of stereotypical depiction of a fortune teller normalises the idea that fortune tellers are scammers just trying to get you to buy useless junk you don’t really need. Yes, there absolutely are fortune telling scams out there – tons of them. But scams happen in all industries. People think they can fake being a doctor and make a ton of cash, then skip town and escape fraud charges. Banks scam people all the time, and they easily escape repercussions. The GFC was caused by banks giving out loans they knew people couldn’t repay.

Instead of maligning every single doctor, we warn people to keep an eye out for dodgy doctors. Instead of closing banks, we tell people not to get loans they can’t repay (though we should be putting bankers in gaol). Instead of associating all fortune tellers with fraud, we should be telling people that when you get your palm or tea leaves read, if the person doing the reading demands an extra fee to get rid of an evil curse or tragedy in your future, they’re a liar and you shouldn’t hand them any more money.

I’d consider advocating for industry regulation on fortune telling – but I think that needs to be another, much longer article.

‘Til then:

May the cards fall in your favour,
Torin

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