Dodgy Client

In his blog Consumer Psychologist, Adam Ferrier wrote an excoriating account of his undercover visit to the Advanced Medical Institute (AMI), encountering dubious medical practices and pressure selling. Worth a read before AMI take an injunction out against him like they did the Sydney Morning Herald.

It made me wonder about the AMI’s advertising account; whatever its worth, is it nothing but a Faustian pact or mob deal? Does an agency lose its soul or pinky fingers when engaging a dodgy client?


In 2006 the Federal Court ruled newspaper ads for the AMI’s erectile dysfunction nasal spray were misleading or deceptive under section 52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974 in proceedings against them, their agency Colbyco and spokesman Ian Turpie. Turps confessed the truth about his wang’s wonkiness (or lack thereof) as a media stunt to the ACCC in return for clemency. But a quick google search of Colbyco and MD Philip Somerset reveals nothing after this case. Did the incident ruin Colbyco, did they rebrand or are they stuck at the bottom of Sydney Harbour wearing concrete slippers?

To what degree do service providers bear responsibility for their client’s skullduggery? Is advertising questionable remedies for impotence to susceptible unfortunates all that different from advertising shampoo with keratin to image conscious women?

Peer respect is also important for an agency to flourish, particularly being lauded at self-congratulatory industry awards. But beware, those ad industry folk in the audience are easily provoked into an angry pitchfork waving mob.

If the AMI presently have an agency, they’re staying quiet about it. Given the continued controversies surrounding the AMI, including frequent Advertising Standards Bureau objections (the latest TVC listed here), does anyone know who handles their advertising?


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