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Chris Cardell "Newspaper Cutting" Advert: Scam, Spam or Great Marketing?

Updated on June 19, 2013

It Vexes Me...

That the latest marketing ploy from Chris Cardell is so close to misrepresenting himself that it reminds me of the Wild West. He's achieved huge levels of success already from a mixture of marketing methods, but now it seems he's sunk to new levels. Let me explain.

I Recently Received A Personal-Looking Letter...

with what seemed to be a handwritten envelope.  Maybe it's just me, but there's nothing that sets the mind into a dizzy spin quite like handwriting on a card-sized envelope.  Imagine how intrigued I was, then, to discover what appeared to be a newspaper clipping folded up inside it.  Right in the middle of the page was stuck another example of the handwriting from the letter, this time a personal message from a friend who signed it "J":-

"I saw this and thought you'd find it useful - he's really good!  J"

It was on a Post-It note. But, it made me think...

Who Do I Know That Would Ever Sign Themselves as "J"?...

By now my hackles were raised a little. My good friend Jonathan would never sign his name like this - it's way to pretentious for a northern lad! Out of morbid curiosity (morbid in the sense that I'd be letting some of my time die while I did this!), I read the clipping only to realise it was a fake article, made to look like a page out of The Times but in real terms was a thinly veiled advertising campaign

It was from Chris Cardell and was pitching his 6 CD set, "Essential Profit Strategies". The offer is very powerful - £295 worth of CDs if you pay the post and packing. The bit that almost caught me out, though, was the fact that I was signing up for his monthly subscription service. You can't just get the free CDs without becoming a member. A quick search on the internet for "how to cancel Chris Cardell" quickly revealed that many others had come this way before. I decided not to bother joining.

But, my interest piqued, I did do a bit more looking around and found that as you type his name into Google, one of the suggested searches that Google offers to you tags "scam" onto the end of his name.  Obviously a lot of people thinking the same thing.

In fact, Duncan Bannatyne appears in a photo with Cardell in this advert.  Yet Bannatyne, like most famous people, is photographed all the time with people and in this case has personally written on Twitter that it's a scam.  You can find Duncan Bannatyne's Twitter feed here.

It was then that I discovered he's been reported to the Advertising Standards Agency who reviewed his advert and upheld 2 out of 3 breaches of the Advertising Code.

Here's The Ad I Received...

It looks like a newspaper cutting, but it's an advert for Chris Cardell's membership club.  A scam or clever marketing?
It looks like a newspaper cutting, but it's an advert for Chris Cardell's membership club. A scam or clever marketing?

Here's Somebody Else Who's Been Caught...

This images comes from http://seagalinvestigations.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/clever-marketing-it-certainly-is-not/ - that's another guy who's been "hit" by this dodgy advert.
This images comes from http://seagalinvestigations.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/clever-marketing-it-certainly-is-not/ - that's another guy who's been "hit" by this dodgy advert.

The ASA's Judgement Is Very Clear...

"The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Cardell Media to ensure future marketing communications were designed and presented in such a way that it was clear they were marketing communications, and to ensure they held independent documentary evidence to substantiate claims including those in testimonials, in future."

Chris Cardell, as I understand it, is a former radio ad space salesman turned presenter who switched into selling marketing tips to small businesses. His own marketing efforts appear to know now bounds, seemingly. Sadly this one seems to have backfired.

He offers tidbits of information, which some businesses figure out how to put into action, while others find difficult without some help to apply the ideas to their businesses. Click the link to read a Chris Cardell review of how working with a business coach helped him on a more practical level to achieve tangible results.


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    • profile image

      John 

      23 months ago

      The fact we are all on here discussing it means his advertising is working.

    • profile image

      Phil 

      3 years ago

      I've recieved countless e-mails.

      The funniest was when it stated that he has put in 3 mil of his own money to expand his company's , no record at company's house , so I asked for the names of said company's , :still waiting

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      midnightpiper 

      4 years ago

      Josh,

      Thanks for commenting. Seems to me that Cardell is a bit of a Marmite character - some people seem to love what he does, while others aren't so impressed.

    • Josh Leitner profile image

      Josh Leitner 

      5 years ago

      Sent this letter to cardell

      Dear Mr Cardell

      Allow me to express my deep pride in being ‘chosen’ to receive your FED EX invitation last week. In fact so profound was my self-satisfaction that I have yet to open the envelope – just the sight of a personal envelope from a marketer like yourself, sitting on my desk has been enough for me to relax all week with a wry smile and a deep feeling of arrogance and haughtiness.

      I have had the (mis) fortune to spend many hundreds of pounds on your literature, indeed I even attended your summit. The summit where you made so much money you actually had £1000 spare to divide into £5.00 notes and drop them from the rafters on the heads of your 800 dumb and stupid audiences. People (myself included) who spend hundreds of pounds listening to smooth operators as yourself describing how we could go to stratospheric heights if we sign up to another master-class/elite group/ Gold Mastermind meeting, where after taking further cash you will tell us……..nothing.

      Some of your guests speakers were entertaining and, unlike yourself, mildly useful. Most of your entertainers however were just there to sell more products.

      And the best catch of all….until the first afternoon anyone can get their money back. Fantastically clever, especially after you explain how only one person has ever requested this. I can’t believe you actually attracted one person with sufficient IQ to realise what nonsense you expel and to request an immediate refund. Bravo to him. One genius out of 800 is a pretty good return on your marketing.

      Chris, please do not remove me from your mailing list. I estimate the aforementioned FedEx package cost you a couple of pounds to send. Once I have received another 489 I will have had the satisfaction of knowing that at least you have spent more money trying to attract me than I have spent on your course. There again, if you mail me a cheque for £300, we can call it quits – though I don’t offer any refunds if you change your mind.

      Good luck – the world’s is a big place and I am confident that you’ll find sufficient mugs to fill your super classes.

      Sadly, you’ll have to count me out

    • profile image

      Heloisa 

      6 years ago

      Heelo, I had subscribed to his CDs and unsubscribed after telling the bank not to pay them anymoe due to scamming. When they were not payd they emailed me complaining and I responded that I had had a hard time phoning them - no answer, no call back. I had emailed them - no response. I cancelled then and demanded they delete my name and addres from their lists. They confirmed it all. Now they've started charging me again through my own bank! Again! No stop for their SCAM, I will have to take legal action. Any ideas to help? Thanks a lot.

    • profile image

      Dave 

      6 years ago

      I have a research background and as you say Simon you can find most of this info online.

      However, I have also been to one of Cardells Entrepreneur events and the Guest Speakers, Gerald Ratner, Bob Geldof and others, were worth the ticket price let alone the people I met and contacts I made. And the info I got and used has been very useful with our business.

      The Duncan B thing is interesting as he was a guest speaker at one of his Summits?

      I'm not saying that he has to endorse Cardell but its fine to take his money to spout shite about his book....

    • profile image

      Simon Canon 

      7 years ago

      I follow Chris and in ways admire his business model reselling information though I wonder why so much time is spent marketing these money spinning products/services per head where he finds the time to make massive money for "The Big Clients". My view subscribers like you an I convert to sales we are considered The Big Client. After all the money is in the list right? Entrepreneurs are normally secretive about info and sharing this costs £££ revenue therefor I take a backseat when it comes to buying from information selling guru's like Chris. Anyhow If you want to be great at business and research hard you will find the information these guru's find too right underneath your nose, you just have to look it. S

    • profile image

      Patrick 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for this - i also had a Chris Cardell newspaper cutting from'J' - that was maybe a year ago - i've still been wondering about it - mystery solved!

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      midnightpiper 

      8 years ago

      Hey Chas,

      Thanks for stopping by and adding your comments. I've listened to Chris Cardell a few times myself and you're right, he's got some great stuff. I just think the "stink" that's blown up around this marketing exercise has been a real shame. The fact that he runs his big Entrepreneur seminar these past few years and gets so many people going along tells you he's got a lot to offer.

      Midnightpiper.

    • profile image

      chas dutton 

      8 years ago

      I and my business have genuinely derived substantial benefit from Chris Cardell, I have subscribed to Chris's services for 3 years now (I didn't just jump in, it took a full year before I was persuaded).

      Hand on heart I can honestly say that I have learned and implemented more about sales and marketing from Chris in 3 years than I had in the previous 30 years.

      What is more Chris is genuine and has considerable integrity.

      Chas Dutton

    • profile image

      Hos 

      8 years ago

      Received the same letter as above pretending to be from someone I know. Signed onto the website and then got spammed hard for days via Email.

      I didn't buy anything or ask for anything.

      Only way they would back off was by threatening to report them to Microsoft for spamming by replying to one of their "automated" Emails. As the spamming stopped I guess the "automated" Email system must have a human element in it somewhere.

      I will not use any company that spams like that.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      midnightpiper 

      8 years ago

      Hi Mick,

      Sorry, not sure how to help. You could try looking up Cardell Media's website as that's his company name I think.

      Midnightpiper.

    • profile image

      mr m gribbon 

      8 years ago

      I have unfortunately signed up for the free trial, now that I wish to de-register I can't find anyway of contacting the company. Can anybody help?

      Mick

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