This week I'm covering a story about deceptive and potentially illegal marketing practices a long-standing magic brand employs. Regardless of the conclusion you draw from this story, I think it shines a critical light on the Wild West mentality of the magic industry when it comes to marketing.
From bizarre movie-like trailers to deceptive wording and sometimes completely wack marketing campaigns. The industry is missing a place for accountability and self-regulation. All we've got is Craig Petty chastising people on YouTube when they screw up their marketing campaigns. And as much as that seems to work surprisingly well, do we want magic brands to act in fear of Craig Petty?
We've written about how Murphy's Magic Supplies dominates the magic market with no accountability and how it can lead to massive stories like the one we wrote about Mr Blonde's secret identity. In that story, a genuinely faulty product made it to customers without Murphy's checking or cancelling the launch. Customers continue to wait patiently for refunds on that one.
We've written about magic pirates and theft within the industry and how a total lack of regulation or accountability allows those to sore rampantly, too. Wow, I'm testing my mental thesaurus here.
Anyway, we've never covered a story about marketing quite like this. And unlike all the other debates on magic ownership and deceptive wording, this story is different. The thing this magic brand is alleged to be doing is, well, illegal. Like, actually unlawful, black and white illegal.
If it turns out they're doing what they might be doing, it won't be Craig Petty they'll be afraid of getting a chastising from.
Part 1. Ashley Summers is a Real Person
I'd tell you this all began when I received an email from someone calling themselves "Ashley Summers," but that's a lie. Yes, technically, that's when the subject of this story first appeared in my inbox. But it's not where the story started for me.
This story kicked into gear when I received a WhatsApp message from a magician I know who has a background in scams, marketing and the law. We're going to call this person Source 1. It read in part:
"...Copeland Coins is essentially using a spot to scrape email addreses from instagram and add them to email lists. Super illegal."
They then immediately added a second message:
"Well, "regular illegal." I guess super illegal is more like murder or something.
I replied pretty quickly. I'd received the email, too, I said. I had. I remember getting it and thinking it was weird that the magic brand was doing cold outreach emails. I'm pretty sure that when I received it, I just replied with a link to One Ahead's advertising page.