In the world of advertising, there are celebrity spokesmen and spokeswomen a-plenty. From Marie Osmond’s constant stream of Nutrisystem commercials to the Simply Orange ad campaigns featuring the distinctive voice of Donald Sutherland to the massive frame of Shaquille O’Neal filling up our screens trying to get us to change our auto insurance to The General or slather on some of that Icy Hot onto our aching joints, that type of celebrity advertising is certainly ubiquitous.
However, after those commercials that the well-known do wrap and begin running on an endless cycle in our print and electronic media, I’m pretty certain the odds are nearly nil those spokespeople will ever have any interaction with the consumer.
However, a recent experience I had with a product called VooDoo Pain Relief Cream showed me there is such a thing as a celebrity who truly is willing to interact and stand behind a product to which he lends his face and voice.
Anyone who’s a golfer or follows professional golf knows of Hank Haney, arguably the sport’s most famous instructor, with the list of those he’s helped headed by none other than Tiger Woods in addition to celebrities such as Charles Barkley and Ray Romano. Haney operates four golf-instruction academies, is a published author and has had golf shows on both radio and TV, which, collectively, has put millions into his bank account, ten of those millions as a matter of fact, according to the website used by all us jealous non-celebrities, Celebrity Net Worth.
However, despite all the fame and fortune amassed, recently, Haney proved to me to be as regular a guy as you’re likely to find in the celebrity ranks.
A while back after hearing a commercial by Haney about his arthritis cream with the unusual name of VooDoo on XM Radio, I purchased an advertised special, two 3.4 ounce tubes of the pain-relief cream for $40. On the commercial, Haney said he was offering a double-the-money-back guarantee that I would feel some relief for my arthritic knees.
Once the product arrived and I applied it once a day for two weeks, to be honest, I really didn’t feel much difference, so I began the process of getting the promised refund. Admittedly, I did have some initial trouble getting someone in the VooDoo offices to respond to me, but once I was able to see the dollar charge removed from my credit card statement after Haney himself got involved and received a check for $13.50, which was the cost minus shipping charges on the first tube, consistent with what Haney’s website promised, I was satisfied with the refund although as I said, not really with the product.
Now, when that check for $13.50 arrived, I noticed it came in an envelope that was handwritten by Haney with his name and home address in Phoenix in the upper left corner. Additionally, the handwritten check inside also had Haney’s signature at the bottom. You might say, between the envelope and check, I received two Haney’s autographs. Of course, at my age, I’m not all that enamored by autographs of the rich and famous, so I went for the $13.50 and cashed the check!
Thinking how unusual it was to receive a handwritten check from a celebrity who owned the company and was the commercial spokesman, I guess I felt compelled to email Haney (a) to give my thoughts on the product and (b) to see if Haney himself would respond or it would be one of his employees.
Much to my surprise within a day, I received back a lengthy email that began with “John,” from Haney, who explained why he felt the product didn’t work for me (too infrequent of applications) and providing me a lengthy explanation as to what anti-inflammatory products were in the product which made his brand superior to the vast number of other products in a very crowded field of creams and ointments for arthritis, without question, the most common malady of the aged.
When I emailed some additional observations in response to his email, within a day, back came another lengthy email from Haney that again began with “John,” as if we were old pals exchanging pleasantries. In his email, Haney explained the overwhelming reaction he’s received from so many of his customers, so much so, that out of the first 27,000 orders, he said the refund rate was a microscopic .001%. Additionally, Haney forwarded 10 testimonials from those pleased with the product.
In addition to making good on the refund promise, Haney also shipped to me two tubes of the product to try again, this time at no cost to me. Really, it was amazing to me the personal touch Haney provided for one small-town consumer.
And, using the product more frequently, as Haney said it would, has indeed made a difference. While I doubt if I’d have heard anything from Donald Sutherland if I found my OJ too acidic or from Shaq if I didn’t like my premiums from The General, when it came to a certain product to soothe the pain a bit from the cartilage that has worn away over time, Hank Haney proved to me that he’s more than just a spokesman. He’s fully invested!
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.