For those of you who don’t think advertising works, consider this: Those weight-loss products that are promoted during “distressed” times (meaning they run whenever stations/networks can fit them in) sell lots of product with those ads. Sensa alone sold more than $364 million worth of products over the last four years.

And here’s the catch: The products themselves don’t work.

At least that’s according to the Federal Trade Commission, which has forced three manufacturers to pay $34 million in refunds to those who bought the products. The FTC demanded the refunds because the marketers are making claims that are unfounded by science.

sensa-1024x731I bring this up not to prove that advertisers can dupe anyone into buying something – or even that people can be duped. No, I bring it up because the type of advertising those weight-loss marketers do is something I’ve often thought was pretty effective.

They and their like, such as those OxiClean commercials, are demonstration-driven, much like an infomercial. Those kinds of ads are not for everybody, of course, but there’s always something compelling about them. You feel a pull that says, even when you are skeptical, “Don’t miss out! This is easy!”

That’s the brand face (who you are when you use a brand) of those kinds of spots. You’re the person who doesn’t want to miss out and believes easy is best, even if it’s against your better judgment.

As a brand guy, I don’t believe product benefits alone drive preference. Not by a long shot. But, in an era in which much advertising (especially among the big-budget brands) is without meaning, those weight-loss marketers and their like are more in tune with their target audiences than most.

They’ll even get some people to buy a product that doesn’t work.