The Caitlin Raymond International Registry and UMass Memorial Health Ventures Inc. will pay Massachusetts and New Hampshire $770,000 in fines and attorneys' fees after a Thursday judgment in Suffolk Superior Court found that the organizations engaged in improper marketing practices in their effort to recruit potential bone marrow donors. Having realized that donating bone marrow just wasn't sexy enough, UMass Memorial and the Raymond Registry spent $80,000 a month in modelling fees to have scantily-clad women from Click Models of Boston promenade around malls, festivals, and sporting events in an effort to recruit privately-insured bone marrow donors, whom UMass could then overcharge for testing procedures, pocketing the extra scratch. They also gave away big screen TVs, golf clubs, and shirts that either read, "Donating for a Better To-Marrow," "Get a Boner, Give Some Marrow," or were totally worthless.
According to New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney, UMass Memorial will also have to make restitution payments to donors who were deceived about the true cost of testing procedures by models working on commission and probably sucking them in with such flattering lines as, "Oh, you look strong — I bet you're so strong that you don't even need all of your bone marrow. How about you give us some?" Echoing the sentiments of most reasonable people Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said, "No health care provider should be allowed to use gimmicks and free gifts to increase the volume of services covered by health plans for their own financial gain."
New Hampshire Attorney General Michael Delaney said that the two organizations "lost focus on their charitable mission" by resorting to marketing practices normally used to sell timeshares or goad former wrestling champs to stop eating funnel cake and try to impress their wives with a mallet swing at the local carnival. "Lost focus" is certainly one way of putting it, but such crass marketing tactics only underscore how difficult it is to find enough bone marrow donors to ensure that patients have the best possible chance of finding a viable genetic match. Minority donors, for example, are always in high demand because so much tissue variation exists between people of different races and ethnicities. "Adding more diverse members," says National Marrow Donor Program's site,"increases the likelihood that all patients will find a life-saving match." Testing procedures are extensive and the donation process itself requires a hospital visit and general anesthesia.
While using the marketing miracle that is the half-naked woman to attract attention isn't novel, it's definitely been employed in far less worthy causes. Had UMass Memorial and the Caitlin Raymond Registry not tried to grease the wheels a little by exploiting the generous policies of privately insured donors, their only sin would have been using an advertising tactic that's become de rigueur for both activist and commercial organizations: harnessing the power of exposed or nearly exposed breasts.
Settlement Says Its Not Okay To Use Models In Short Skirts [The Consumerist]
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