This article was originally published on November 3, but not many folks were reading about investment speculations back then, as election day consumed our attention… and I’ve gotten a big new wave of questions about this same pitch today, so I’m reposting this story with some minor updates. The ad itself has not been updated, and still carries an October 2020 date. What follows is mostly unchanged form when it was first posted on 11/3/20.
It hardly makes sense to publish an article today (or tomorrow, for that matter), since everyone will be obsessing over the election… but, well, what else am I gonna do with my time while I wait, with the rest of the world, for the polls to close? Might as well chew on something… and since probably not many of our readers are paying attention today, I’ll dig into what looks like a small cap idea.
The ad I can’t resist today is the “Holy Serum” one from the Casey Research folks, a pitch for Nick Giambruno’s Crisis Investing newsletter (pitched as having a “retail price” of $4,000 but “on sale” for $1,795, nonrefundable… the same price it was pitched at last year)… here’s the headline:
“Worth 1,489x more than gold…
“How this radical discovery could launch one $5 stock on a 4,100% run… as soon as soon as 9:31AM tomorrow
‘Gold rush.’ — USA Today
‘Wildly lucrative.’— The Guardian“
We are so very primed to believe that there are hidden riches, right? Nobody reading those words should logically think that there’s a huge opportunity “as soon as 9:31AM tomorrow”… if there were, and it were described as a “gold rush” by USA Today and as a “wildly lucrative” by The Guardian, newspapers with millions of readers, then how on earth is it so secret that it will explode higher, and that you must subscribe to a newsletter to learn about it?
Logic doesn’t come into play in these situations, though — there’s a blueprint for marketing, and it works: Describe a mysterious substance, throw in the names of some other sources that readers might trust to reinforce that it’s real, imply that it’s going to change the world and the fools just don’t understand, and then tell readers you’ve dedicated your life to finding out these secrets for noble investors, and will be delighted to share those secrets for a (nonrefundable) $1,795 fee.
I’m not sure why it works, but it does. We’re all suckers for a scheme, even if, when we slow down to take a breath, we know better. And, of course, it’s that “9:31AM tomorrow” bit that prevents us from slowing down and taking a breath — copywriters know that if you have an excuse to think it over, talk to your spouse, or read up on the topic or check out the fine print, you’ll probably lose that surge of profit lust they built up… and if that happens, you’ll be a lot less likely to pull out your credit card.
That’s not to pick on Nick Giambruno or Casey particularly, they’re not necessarily any different from the rest — there’s a marketing playbook, developed over the years by Agora and other leaders in the financial marketing space, and they just run the same game as everyone else (you can see what other folks have told us about Crisis Investing here, for whatever that’s worth). No harm done, as long as you realize it’s a hard sell and that you can leave the dealership… you don’t have to make a decision right this second because the deal is going away (it’s not, almost every newsletter ever promoted will be back for more money in a month or two), and you don’t have to get the undercoating.
So what are the clues about this “Holy Serum” that Giambruno is pitching? This is from the order form:
“Nick uncovered what could be one of the biggest millionaire-making discoveries — a biotech breakthrough he calls the “holy serum”.
“One $5 company is at the forefront of this historic breakthrough. No other biotech venture has been able to advance the “holy serum” into FDA trials before.
“They are breezing through the FDA approval process with a “holy serum” treatment that could be worth $8.1 billion.
“The anticipated FDA announcement may come as early as 9:31 AM tomorrow… and it could send this stock on a 4,100% run.
“But this $5 company isn’t a one-trick pony. They are angling for another $6 billion market with one more “holy serum” treatment in the pipeline.”
OK, so it’s some kind of biotech. Which