Saturday, September 6, 2008

"Smiling Bob" Waves Goodbye To NASCAR Fans


Few topics have generated as much email as the interesting ads featuring "Smiling Bob" and his permanently smiling wife.

Many NASCAR fans felt that Bob and his rather thinly disguised pitch for an "performance enhancer" called Enzyte should not have been seen in NASCAR TV programs oriented toward the family.

While medical drugs like Viagra and Levitra focus their advertising on tasteful and sometimes humorous approaches to promoting their product, Enzyte was different.

The advertising never crossed any line that involved nudity or profanity, but the entire character of "Smiling Bob" was beyond tasteless for many. The themed commercials pitched Bob as a dolt who simply made his way through life blissfully unaware that his wife liked to tell her friends all about Bob's "new found confidence."

Apparently, many men went directly to the phone and picked-up a free supply of Enzyte after seeing Bob and his wife smiling a lot. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the Enzyte product. It was all a scam.

A credit card number was required to pay the shipping fee for the free samples. The company then began to charge that credit card for monthly deliveries of the herbal mixture. When you got the free sample, you had automatically enrolled in the monthly plan.

Complaints were referred to a non-existent department within the company and customers who said the product did not work were asked to go to their doctor and get a note to verify the "problem." Needless to say, eventually some folks were going to be heading for jail.

Click here for the story from the AP about the 42 year-old president of the company that sold Enzyte going to federal prison for 25 years. Conspiracy, fraud and money laundering were going-on at the company constantly even while the ineffective but harmless mix of herbal suppliments continued to be shipped nationwide.

It was several years ago that complaints first began to surface about the male enhancement product. Click here for a USA Today story about the real ingredients of Enzyte. "It makes no sense medically," said one well-known Urologist.

All the same, many TV networks were happy to take the cash from this company despite the on-going federal investigation and publicity. Perhaps, the final result of this scam will be a new set of standards for national TV advertising of herbal solutions that are not federally tested and have no actual medical value. The TV networks were the conduit that made this corruption possible.

All of this took place in the Cincinnati area, and you can click here for the final article where the details of just how corrupt and devious the company practices actually were to customers. The judge in the case had trouble with the sentence because no one could really calculate just how many hundreds of millions of dollars this scheme had generated.

So, "Smiling Bob" will not be returning to the airwaves and will slowly fade to become just another fascinating element of this culture and a Wiki page on the Internet forever.

The remaining ED products advertised in NASCAR are prescribed medical drugs promoted by well-known pharmaceutical companies and prescribed by a physician. It certainly was an interesting run, but so long "Smiling Bob."

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25 comments:

Sophia said...

Well JD, I hate to tell you this but this is other stuff on the market now. I have sat thru TWO EPISODES of TWIN with "Extensa" promotion. And a late night edition of V Lane.

Similar product, a guy and a young girl with a seductive voice telling you what this product can do for you. It all makes me sick.

A friend of mine, her husband designed the website of the place for Smiling Bob many years ago but had NOTHING to do with the business. Nevertheless, the FBI spoke to him as well before realizing he was innocent.

This creep will probably appeal and not see prison for years or so locals are saying. I did not click on the link as I live in the TriState area and am tired of hearing about it. I can't believe the commercials ran as long as they did!!?

But never fear, the aforementioned product I just named is here.*sarcasm* I am disgusted SPEED promotes this during NASCAR related shows...but I have seen it a few times on the midnight airing of TWIN here..and I think VL as well.

It's bad enough we have the other PRESCRIPTION E.D. and now have another OTC supplement. But honestly, it's all the same. Too much information.

When they come out with some detailed "female stuff promotions" can't wait to see how the men like those. I have seen one creepy woman's product but can't remember the name...but it's about doing things to certain body parts. Yikes.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Sophia,

One at a time. It is not against the law to sell these products or to air commercials for them.

If Enzyte had done business in the correct manner, that group of executives would not be in jail.

If there is money to be made, there is no doubt that we will be seeing more of this.

My call is for TV industry regulation of ads for herbal products that clearly have no medical value and claim to treat a specific medical problem.

The entire appeal of these products is that they are available without a prescription.

That effort is picking up steam and will be in full gear if current Enzyte class-action civil lawsuits name the TV networks and want damages.

Vital Basics just paid over a million dollars in fines for TV claims that "Focus Factor" helped with memory and concentration.

JD

Anonymous said...

You know, to be honest, Smilin' Bob cracked me up. I am a middle aged female, but if anyone saw the Japanese one about the wood...the puns were just...hysterical. That one didn't air much...but I could whistle the tune...

Anyways, as funny as I may have found some of them, I still found them inappropriate to be advertising during family events, which I consider racing to be. Perhaps for a late night talk show or SNL...something not aimed at families. One night on a NWrace--this was years ago--they were running an Enzyte car and Randy Lajoie commented on how his kids though Smilin' Bob was funny--he clarified 'they *don't* know why he's smiling, but they think he's funny'...again, made me laugh but it was still...awkward for this event.

A friend of mine used to work for Pfizer, and is completely embarrassed (as am I) by the 'Viva Viagra' ads...why these are different to me from Bob, I don't know...maybe it's just the bluntness rather than the 'puns', maybe it's the attitude of the guys, but what bothers her is that originally, it was marketed as a 'men's health' product (remember Bob Dole?) And now it's creepy musicians making up songs about it, wink, wink, nudge, nudge...eeeuuuwww.

And can *someone* tell me what that couple is doing in the Cialis ads in separate bathtubs outside on the top of mountain? That's creepier than the Old Spice Centaur...

As for the advertising dept at SPEED and others...the pharm industry and its 'non FDA approved' counterparts have money just as green as Budweiser's, and I guess that's more important to them than being appropriate.

Gymmie said...

@sophia--I'm glad they found your friend's husband innocent...how scary that must have been!

@anon 8:13--I also giggled at Smiling Bob! They did have some funny commercials :).

I hadn't heard about this but I do hope he does time for his deeds. It's truly a shame.

Jo said...

The "Smiling Bob" commercials were funny, the scam wasn't. I hope the execs of the company do long prison sentences, soon. As fast as the Feds put Martha Stewart in jail, these guys should go sooner!

I still believe commercials should be rated just like TV shows are and adult content commercials should be on adult shows.

Also I really don't think "real" medicines need to be advertised, nor do all these hokey herbalist stuff.

That said- Anon I agree why are those people in separate tubs on a mountain side ? Couldn't they find a full size hot tub? LOL

Dot said...

I can't wait to read more comments about this topic.

I too, thought the Smilin' Bob comm'ls were funny. What gets me though, did/do men really think this stuff works?

Surgery is the only answer for any kind of enhancement.

Regarding the Viagra & Cialis ads. My roommate and I joke about the side effects. He said that if he had an erection that lasted more than 4 hrs, he's calling a hooker, not his doctor. And the vision and hearing issues related to these products?, I say that's a woman's dream and I'm hiding the phone.

alex said...

It's too bad the other commercials are still around...

darbar said...

I guess smilin' Bob and his product is not much different from all those bust enhancing products from the 1960's. I found some of my mom's old movie magazines from that time, and they just cracked me up. I guess they didn't have silicone back then. So I guess women and men have the same thought when it comes to enhancement, albeit they are both in geographically different regions of the body.

The one commercial left that I cannot stand is the "girth" commercials on Sirius. Now that one just bothers me. I'm just wondering what kind of person would think that a pill would enlarge "little Willie"?

I think everyone wonders about the two bathtub thing. What does that have to do with Cialis? Wouldn't it have more of an impact if they were in the same tub???

Anonymous said...

JD

I read these articles several weeks ago, but still saw the commercials a couple of days ago.

Vicky D said...

Well, one down, several dozen to go. This commercial was especially irritating to me so I'm glad it won't be shown any longer.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 9:47PM,

I was told the commercials were pulled several months ago as a part of the guilty verdict.

TV is always interesting.

JD

bevo said...

They're still selling two products on NASCAR radio just like Smilin' Bob's Happy Pills.

The big problem is regulation of these scams was taken away from the FDA in 1994.

Dot said...

You want a good laugh? Read the comments after the articles from the links. People are defending this guy!!!! Yeah, it's easy to help out your employees, with other peoples' money. And his mother crying that it's not fair for her to go to prison because she's sick? Do the crime, do the time.

darbar said...

JD, is that true of the commercials being pulled? I can swear I just saw smilin's Bob's commercial last week, one night when I couldn't sleep. They seem to pop up at the same time as the Girls Gone Wild stuff. BTW, have any of you seen the informercial for the personal, battery-operated massage devices? I'm not a good sleeper, so I tend to watch things at 3am, when informercials rule the airwaves. One night, I was totally shocked to see two women selling a variety of these things. And, they sure weren't shy on demonstrating. Sure did surprise me to see this on WE network in the middle of the night.

Dot said...

Here's some irony.

I was reading elewhere where a guy in Kuala Lumpur put a steel ring on his man part, apparently he thought the weight would make it longer. The fire dept had to remove it. Do it yourself male enhancement.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Dar,

Most TV programs insert new commercials in the programs as they air. Some of the older shows, especially the paid programs may have composited the old commercials on the actual tape so they play back.

This is especially true when the commercial is a PI. A "per inquiry" spot that contains an toll-free number pays the station or network that airs the commercial by the number of inquiries.

The older ones hang around for a while, but eventually fade when the money stops.

In non-family time, the FCC allows stations to sell directly to commercial sponsors blocks of time. Informercials or paid programming can promote or sell anything that falls withing the FCC guidelines of that time period.

It is a bitter fact that many stations make a significant amount of revenue from this practice. It is something that SPEED still does and I hate it. I think it cheapens the appeal of the network when they are selling junk at 6AM and running paid programs to promote schools and products.

It seems to be the way of the world at present.

There is also a new post up about the Sunday NASCAR TV for your comments.

Thanks as always.

JD

Daly Planet Editor said...

Dot,

Kuala Lumpur....isn't that up near Orlando somewhere?

JD

Dot said...

JD,

Hard to tell if you're joking w/me or not. We're both from "duh" states. Nevaduh and Floriduh.
It's in Malaysia.

Sophia said...

This other male enlarger has been shown NUMEROUS times during TRACKSIDE. They claim this stuff "REALLY WORKS." They changed the wording a bit. Works the same way..give us your C Card NUMBER and you will get "free samples." Sigh.

There was that one infomercial a few years ago, forget what it was selling but it had that fat, ugly guy of x movie fame. Ron somebody. UGLY. I can't remember what the product was...they all run together.

Then again, if you have ever worked in the medical field or know about pharmaceuticals, do NOT take anything that has been on the market less than FIVE years..takes that long for "real life complications/risk/death or bad side effects to show up." I know that from personal experience. A doctor/surgeon in law died after taking some meds for a few years. ....caused him to need a heart transplant and only after the transplant did we figure the cause from the meds. He lived to see the pay out...10 years after his transplant but I digress. It was a huge NATIONAL Lawsuit that notified him. He never sought an attorney.

Horrible regulation and quality control. Complicated to explain but I do not TRUST the FDA either...but this herbal stuff is getting out of hand.
No pun intended! :)

Anonymous said...

There is a product similar to the V-chip for your TV set to be released in about 6 to 9 months. You can input what you don't want to see or hear! Like ED commercials to be specific. Plus of course many other things. I would buy it just for the ED commercials. Unfortunately I came into the radio interview towards the end and didn't hear the name of the product. Trust me, it will get a lot of press if it is the real deal and works as advertised.

Sophia said...

I never heard of a v chip for COMMERCIALS????

I would also like a pop up blocker for all the adds for tv shows promoted, in the tv screen for other tv shows.

NOW THAT would be nice. Like pop up blocker for computer only tv. :)

Bobby said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
BruSimm said...

Dot,

You mentioned way back that "What gets me though, did/do men really think this stuff works? "

The sad part is that advertising is a part of our lives because it does work. It even dictates / controls what we watch on TV.

People fall for the sales pitch without doing any research.

The magic of words, visuals and music can twist a consumer to exactly what the marketer wants.

It's beautiful, in a sad sort of way.

-Bruce

dwight said...

Don't forget that for part of a season there was an Enzyte car in the then Busch series. Car 50, in 2004.

Anonymous said...
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