Avoid “boiler room” marketing campaigns at all costs. Brand and sales ROI failure imminent

Scene from "Boiler Room" (2000)

I wanted to share a letter I wrote this morning to a marketing director at a major cruise line. I’ll cite this as a lesson on what not to do in a promotions campaign.

Dear (marketing director):

I recently called [credit card company] customer service at [redacted] on a general inquiry about my credit card.  But rather than reaching the system, I heard a recording congratulating me on being winner of a 2-night cruise aboard [cruise line ] to the Bahamas.  I decided to press “1” to hear more, as I had a few minutes.

I then was put in touch with a sales representative who read his prepared script, explaining it was merely a promotional campaign by [**] and that I would only be liable for $59.00 “port fee” per person. The trip could be redeemed within 18 months. I agreed and provided the individual with my credit card information. He provided me with his Corporate ID #. He then transferred me to an “authorization representative” who proceeded to up-sell me on hotels, cars, a six-night extended stay, etc. I told him I wasn’t interested and just wanted my reservation number. He told me he was still waiting for it. I pressed him and he put me on hold. This was the first of three different times I was put on hold. Each time I told the individual all I wanted was the reservation number and that was it.  Finally, I hung up. I was on the phone for nearly 30 minutes. I have since called my credit card company to flag this incoming transaction to be blocked. That took a grand total of four.

These types of “boiler room” marketing tactics do little to enhance the brand of [**]. Rather, I submit, they strike confusion and paranoia among those who have a minimum understanding of how promotion campaigns are supposed to be executed.

Of course, no one can be sure which company has the controlling administrative function of said-promotional campaign. But I strongly advise each marketing department to examine the long term ROI of such aggressive sales strategies.

I, also, am an integrated communications and marketing professional. We both work in the business of perception.  At the very least, your people and/or partners are giving our profession a bad name.


Evan Howell