The Idiocy of Forbes Middle East


“You should change your advert, it has too many words!” the silly lady from Forbes Middle East magazine told us.

The nerve! 

One of the biggest challenges of being a direct-response marketer is that very few people understand what it is.  In a nutshell, direct-response marketing is salesmanship in print.  It is on the opposite scale of image or brand advertising, which is all about the brand, with very little regard for the performance of the advert.

Basically direct-response advertising is about soliciting a direct, emotional response from the reader of your marketing piece, whereas image advertising is about art.  And the most insulting thing to a direct-response marketer is when someone pontificates to them about how their ads don’t look like ads, or how they have too many words.  It drives us crazy! (See more about the difference here)

So there we were, a few months ago, very excited about advertising the DreamBody Centre franchise in Forbes Middle East.  The adverts were not cheap, but we thought it was worth trying.  We had to make a four-month commitment, and we reluctantly agreed. We chose a vertical half-page advert from their media kit.

The offending direct-response advert.

The offending direct-response advert, relegated to page 119, the page before last.

The first sign of trouble surfaced when we were told that we could only do a half page horizontal advert.  Hmm I thought, not the best option, but I went ahead with that, as the full-page advert was too expensive. When the magazine was published we saw that our advert was thrown at the back of the magazine, and it was the only half-page horizontal ad.   It was treated indignantly, and not surprisingly, we did not get much of a response from the advert.

When we complained to the sales rep at the magazine (let’s call her Ms. R), she gives us the “you need to change your advert” spiel.  Of course, the fact the advert worked everywhere else we placed it did not matter to her.  She wanted adverts that looked like adverts.  They have certain standards, Ms. R told us.  I was fuming and I felt like telling them to go to hell, but I had already paid four months in advance.  Not only was their customer service poor, but were being lectured on a subject that I actually teach courses on, and am in the process of writing a book about!

Well we got a call from her yesterday, offering to upgrade us to a full-page advert to help increase the response.  Great I thought!

No but wait, there is a catch, we have to change the advert, and use a different graphic.  Also, we had to respond by the end of the day!

So I swallowed my pride, and Kristel, Sajad and I chose what we thought was a more acceptable graphic, and sent the advert in full page format.

The new advert with a new graphic.

The new advert with a new graphic.


“No, this advert is no good.”

Well, the indomitable sales rep Ms. R was not happy with the advert.  We should remove the words, and focus on the logo.  And that, somehow, should make the advert work better.  Never mind the dozens of books I’ve read on the subject, my successful track record, all the workshops I’ve attended, the seminars and keynotes I’ve given, my two degrees in business, and the fact that I’m a certified copy-writer.  Ms. R, the sales rep, knows better than me.

Of course we refused to change the advert, and so we’ve been relegated back to a horizontal advert, in the back of the magazine.

Thank you Forbes Middle East, you suck.

One Response to The Idiocy of Forbes Middle East

  1. James 8 October 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    Lol. Have you perhaps considered that the Forbes person was just trying to help you out and offer some advice and feedback? It is her job after all to place ads in that magazine. It’s at least possible that she knows better than you do what works and what doesn’t in Forbes.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: