|In 1987, the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) invited chiropractors to join what it described as “the BIGGEST campaign in history to market chiropractic.” The $800,000 campaign, which would be centered around an 8-page advertising insert in the April 1988 edition of Reader’s Digest magazine, would also include radio spots, newspaper ads, promotional materials for chiropractic offices, and reprints of the booklet for use by individual chiropractors. The invitation stated:
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The ACA solicitation included a copy of the booklet and a memo in which the magazine’s marketing director praised the booklet and said its goal would be to “reshape public knowledge so as to offset public attitudes and affect immediate and long-term public actions.” The recipients were urged to by a $200 kit that would contain 100 booklets imprinted with their name, an office display, newspaper ads, radio spots, poster material, a personal marketing guide, and an opportunity to buy more reprints. The ACA Journal of Chiropractic subsequently reported:
A follow-up solicitation indicated that the second round of the campaign did not get as much chiropractic support as the first round.
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|The April insert was titled, “Which of these doctors are chiropractors?” The November insert was titled, “So A Chiropractor Is Really a Family Doctor?” If you are unable to access my embedded comments in your browser window, download the inserts to your hard drive so they can be read with Adobe Acrobat Reader.
After the April 1988 insert was published, the National Council Against Health Fraud’s president, William Jarvis, Ph.D., complained to the Federal Trade Commission that it deceived by exaggerating what chiropractors can do and asserting that its basic (subluxation) theory is valid . Jarvis’s letter was accompanied by a detailed critique and other documents that I believe placed the matter in proper perspective. I am not aware of any FTC response to the letter. As far as I know, the FTC has never taken any public action against misleading claims about spinal manipulation. Even worse, in some instances when state licensing boards considered policies that would restrict chiropractic advertising, the FTC expressed opposition .
I can’t judge whether the inserts were “effective,” but I can tell you that both were filled with statements that were false, misleading, or potentially misleading. If you read them, keep these things in mind:
Chiropractic has changed very little since 1988. The misleading claims described in this article are still common.
- Announcing the BIGGEST campaign in history to market chiropractic. American Chiropractic Association mailer, fall 1987.
- $10,000 donations bolster Reader’s Digest campaign. ACA Journal of Chiropractic, Oct 1988, p 38.
- ACA announces Phase II of the Reader’s Digest marketing program. ACA Journal of Chiropractic, May 1988, p 29.
- Survey finds Reader’s Digest project a success. ACA Journal of Chiropractic, Sept 1988, p 49.
- Chiropractic threw its first big punch in April. . . American Chiropractic Association mailer, summer of 1998.
- Jarvis. W. Letter to FTC attorney Walter Gross, July 1, 1998.
- Barrett S. FTC policies toward chiropractic advertising. Chirobase, to be posted.
- Barrett S. Subluxation: Chiropractic’s elusive buzzword. Chirobase, May 21, 2006.
- Bellamy JJ. Chiropractic White Paper. Institute for Science in Medicine, Aug 2012.
This article was posted on March 30, 2017.