Being a night owl, I watch ABCs Nightline following our local news at 11:30PM. Imagine my surprise (and disgust) when I saw that the Bernie Madoff family was pitching about $100 bucks worth of advice and a set of emergency contact numbers for $750. And if you are a big spender, for an additional $250 you get a go-bag.
According to the Black Umbrella web site, here is a description of the $750 kit:
Basic Family Preparedness
- Up to 4 go cards
- A family reunification plan
- A family communication plan
- Prepackaged go bags (priced separately)
So what is in that “Go Bag” priced separately at $250? Eye goggles, a PVC raincoat, batteries, a first aid kit, a radio, four aluminum, personalized, emergency contact cards, and a giant black Sharpie marker. There’s more. If you go to the Black Umbrella web site you will see that all of these so-called custom go bag emergency supplies are off the shelf items sold through Amazon.
ABCs John Bergman said:
“Japan. Earthquake. Tsunami. Nuclear terror. Fear strikes the US Do we need iodine pills? Is the radiation coming? Will my family be okay? Where do you go for answers, advice, guidance? How about the Madoff family? Yes, that Madoff family.”
And thus began the story of Survival of the Richest: Disaster Planning.
This entire piece struck me as wrong on a number of points but perhaps the foremost was, as they used to say in the old days, FREE INK. Free Ink (publicity buried in a news story) is being given to this company by the national media and then some. A piece on Nightline is as good as a full page ad in the NY Times as witnessed by the number of news sources worldwide that picked up the text of the piece verbatim.
I did a Google search on the phrase “Black Umbrella Madoff family” and immediately got back 5,150 hits. Now that is some PR machine. Do you think some no-name entrepreneur could get that type of free PR and advertising. Nope. No way.
This so-called news piece was simply, in my opinion another way to rip off the little guy at the expense of the rich elite. Poor little Andy Madoff. He worked for his father but had nothing to do with the ponzi scheme that left many working Americans without any savings or retirement funds. Now he has a disaster preparedness company and along with his fiance, is deluding folks into thinking they are prepared because they have a call list, some goggles, a backpack, and a sharpie.
ABC take note: you would have better served your viewers by having a Red Cross, FEMA, or other Emergency Preparedness representive go through the steps of putting together an emergency food, water, first aid, and survival kit on camera, while on the air. People do watch that sort of thing, you know. And they would pay attention.
Instead, what you did is give the uniformed folks the impression that they need a thousand dollars or more to get prepared for some emergent disaster situation. Truth be told, that is simply not true. You can put together a pretty decent starter kit for as little as $100 and trust me, for $1,000 you can put together a basic get-out-of-dodge bag plus 3 or 4 months of food and water as well.
And the one on one consultation? Heck, I’ll be that many of my readers would happily share their knowledge for a nominal fee of $100 or $200 if not for free! Jeesh.
Consider this required reading: Andy Madoff And His Special Lady Friend Are Here To Help. When done, have yourself a good laugh then go check on your stash of emergency food and water supplies. Who is having the last laugh? Those poor rich suckers. If Madoff did not get to them before, he sure will now!
Enjoy your next adventure, wherever it takes you!