Watching Fox

The Best Advertiser on Fox News Wants You to Buy Gold Coins Because Fake News Is Bad

Advertiser: Lear Capital

Product: Investment gold and silver.

Target audience: Undercapitalized retirees, lovers of shiny objects.

Why this might be the best Fox News advertiser: Lear Capital sells a very important product. That product is gold, and also silver. These precious metals have been valued by monarchs and supervillains since time immemorial. Now they are available to you, a person who watches daytime and afternoon cable television, by way of Lear Capital, a company that buys precious metals at market prices and sells them to you at a significant markup. It is a match made in the golden halls of a heaven in which you’re greeted at the pearly gates by Tucker Carlson and/or Neil Cavuto.

Lear Capital knows its audience. “Are you invested in the stock market? In our world of fake news, here’s what they’re not telling you,” a voice-over intones. What they’re not telling you, according to Lear Capital, has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails and everything to do with the superiority of gold as an investment vehicle when compared with the stock market. “That’s the real news,” the announcer says. Thank you for giving it to me straight, Lear Capital.

If you’re in the mood for slick visuals, Lear Capital’s got ’em: gold and silver coins stacked up like poker chips, an animated bar graph, and charts with both X- and Y-axes. There is also a shot of a competent-looking blond woman answering a telephone, presumably to take your order in a polite and respectful manner.

Lear Capital appeals to logic. “Numbers don’t lie,” the announcer says in the commercial. Fact check: true.

Lear Capital also makes its gold and silver available to you in many formats, as befitting its self-proclaimed status as “the precious metals leader.” If you are willing to postpone the thrill of holding gold in your hand, you can buy into IRAs. If you seek more instant gratification, you can choose from a wide variety of gold and silver coins, such as the Gold Snow Falcon™ Coin, produced by the Royal Canadian Mint, which has the benefit of sounding like an ice cream flavor.

Lear Capital will send you free stuff! If you call now, you will receive a complimentary report titled “Gold & Silver: The Best Kept Secrets.” Thankfully, this advertisement does not include any spoilers. Also, if you spend at least $5,000 in qualified purchases, you are eligible for up to $600 in free gold or silver, which you did not just spend $5,000 to acquire and is in fact totally free.

The advertisement ends with the sound of gold and silver coins jingling. Stocks don’t jingle. Advantage: gold.

Why this might not be the best Fox News advertiser: The Lear Capital voice-over guy sounds like he knows what he’s talking about, but the fine print at the end of the commercial reveals that “Lear is not providing investment, legal or tax advice. Past performance does not guarantee future results.” If he’s just an actor, there is no reason to trust his opinion about the relative merits of stocks and gold, as the only actor I trust to dissect these matters is William Devane. The Lear Capital announcer is not William Devane. Demerits!

According to Lear Capital’s website, its phone representatives aren’t investment advisers either but “commissioned salespersons” who “may receive other compensation tied to sales activity—e.g., sales contests; bonuses tied to the sale of certain denominations/types or grades of Precious Metals.” This practice seems bound to lead to consumer dissatisfaction. Imagine how you might feel if you called wanting to purchase the Gold Snow Falcon™ Coin but were instead strong-armed into buying the Gold Grizzly Bear Coin, which isn’t even trademarked. You would probably feel about as angry as a grizzly bear that had been pressured into buying the wrong coin.

The website “Truth in Advertising” also notes that an elderly California woman sued Lear Capital in 2012, alleging that one of the company’s salespersons advised her that “rare numismatic gold and silver” was a much better investment than gold bullion. The lawsuit claimed that Lear had “intentionally misrepresented and overvalued the coins they sold to [the woman] … in order to defraud [her] of her funds.” Just because coins jingle doesn’t always mean that they are a good deal!

In addition, the ad begins with a burst of audio static. At first I thought this might have been an issue with my computer, but, no, the static is part of the commercial. This is presumably a conscious strategy to trick viewers into sitting up and paying attention. Well, the joke’s on you, Lear Capital, because I was already paying extremely close attention.

The gold you purchase might be filthy. “LCI does not represent that a Precious Metal has or has not been cleaned,” the company disclaims.

You cannot currently buy the Gold Snow Falcon™ Coin, because it is sold out.

Verdict: Lear Capital is a good Fox News advertiser, but is it the best Fox News advertiser? I’ll give Lear Capital’s ad 1.5 out of 3 points for effectiveness, because while numbers don’t lie, they sometimes don’t tell the whole story. Lear Capital gets 2 out of 3 for production values, because the bar graph could’ve had a lot more bars. 1 out of 3 points for shamelessness, because, believe it or not, this is actually one of the more restrained gold-and-silver ads on Fox News. And 1 out of 1 point in the category of “Does this ad reference a Fox News buzzword,” because there are few words buzzier these days than “fake news.” 5.5 points out of 10 for Lear Capital. This is currently the best advertiser on Fox News.