Sunday, February 14, 2010

Did your sweetie have a star named after you this Valentines Day? If so, was he or she scammed?

Prior to each gift giving holiday, International Star Registry advertises heavily on Milwaukee radio stations:

This Valentines Day give the most romantic gift ever received. Name a star after them.
According to their website, they offer gift packages starting at $54:

• Dedicate a star to someone special. We offer a Gift Package where we select a special star in the sky and record your Star Name and Star Date. The Gift Package includes a beautiful parchment Certificate, a Sky Chart with your name and the star's coordinates and an informative booklet on astronomy. We publish all names in the astronomical compendium Your Place in the Cosmos©, which is registered in the U.S. Copyright Office.
Personally, I have always thought naming a star after someone was a pretty lame gift, plus after digging deeper I realized your star’s name means nothing to the scientific community. Also on their website:

Will the scientific community recognize my star name?

• A: No. We are a private company that provides Gift Packages. Astronomers will not recognize your name because your name is published only in our Star catalog. We periodically print a book called Your Place in the Cosmos © which lists the stars that we have named.
So for $54 to $489, you receive a fancy certificate with your star’s name, a booklet on astronomy and a locater chart with your star’s coordinates.

Was your sweetie scammed?

According to Tammy Plotner's post "name a star:"
When you buy a star for someone, you are paying for the entertainment you will receive for learning a little about the night sky. If the agency is misleading about what you're getting in any way, then you should rightly feel that you're being scammed. But if they're up front that the name isn't official, and is only kept in their own catalog, you can know what you're getting.

This post is part of a new series I’m working on called “Getting a Clue” where I attempt to dissect aggressive advertising and marketing campaigns to understand exactly what we’re purchasing.

If you liked this post you may also like: Duped by Pottery Barn's aggresive marketing campaign


  1. "Getting a Clue" is a great idea. I think that I would find having my own, albeit unofficial, star a nice idea, and I hope my sweetie would be smart enough to understand what he was giving me, but in general folks have just gotten way too gullible. It's like all those Internet horror stories you get and you go, "wha... this can't REALLY be true!" and then you look at who sent it to you.

    Year ago I got the stolen kidney story from an attorney, and later the deodorant causes underarm cancer from the head of HR! Thank goodness for!!

    Good idea for helping folks be more saavy! good work.

  2. Webb,
    Thanks for the comment. Once I began looking for marketing schemes, I realized I may have hit upon an endless supply of material. I do hope drawing attention to the facts can make a difference.