Is The Motley Fool targeting BC parents and their $40?

As a Vancouverite, I just popped over to The Vancouver Sun website to read the latest headlines. And the ad for the Motley Fool has me wondering whether someone’s taking advantage of the school shut down to get people investing.

BC is in the middle of a bitter job action situation, pitting teachers and the government against one another. School has been out since mid-June – when it ended abruptly. The most famous mediator in Canada finally got the two sides talking late last week, but declared an impasse over the weekend. School will not be starting tomorrow and people are predicting a late September or October start. Meanwhile, the BC government is offering parents of younger children $40 per day as a temporary education supplement.

And that’s what has me wondering about this ad in The Sun…

The ad makes it look like The Motley Fool might be soliciting people who want to know how $40 could make them a millionaire. The link goes to a promo pitch about Warren Buffet and winds up asking for your email address so that you can learn “the 1 stock to own when the web goes dark”. It suggests, “But you’ll probably just call it “how I made my millions” and says “Big money is already on the move.” Big, bold suggestions. (Incidentally, I did not review the ad for compliance with Canada’s new opt-in advertising rules, which are “a whole nother story”, as anyone but my high school English teacher would say.)

Maybe The Fool, an investment and financial advice website, runs ads for $40 investments all over the world. Maybe they’re not targeting parents in BC.

But tomorrow, the day BC schools would normally be opening, schools will be closed. And BC parents will be eligible for a $40 a day subsidy.

It’s possible the advertising folks at The Sun or even a media buyer suggested this to the advertising folks at The Fool. I have no idea whether The Fool or someone else is capitalizing on the $40 a day deal or which parties even know about the ad and its content. I am making no claims about the validity of the advice or the stocks mentioned and, because I didn’t finish watching the ad and the stocks it mentioned were blacked out on the disclaimer page, I have no idea whether I might own those stocks as part of my portfolio.

But, whatever the case, someone seems to have picked $40 as the right number for people to invest. And that just seems a little too coincidental to be an accident on the eve of the subsidy’s start.

As a marketing consultant, I’m always intrigued by campaigns that tie into current events, especially since I run ad campaigns for my businesses and those of my clients. (Heck, there are ads on this website and, depending on traffic levels, probably on this page.) I make my living from running a consulting business, teaching marketing and business courses and helping people start and run consulting businesses through my consulting books and course. I am a total marketing geek and I live for this stuff. I can’t say, though, that I’ve ever noticed an ad before that tapped into the specific amount of a government grant or rebate I stood to receive. I don’t get a lot of kickbacks from the government and I suppose it’s rare that a grant goes to people, simply based on the age of their children and regardless of income level. Maybe some website cookies led this ad to appear – my Internet history would no doubt reveal cookies for financial and business sites and that I heavily read education articles. Or maybe everyone gets served this ad in rotation. I’m not sure. But it does seem, as I say, like a big coincidence. I’m not passing any judgement. I’ve just never seen anything like this before.

But, hey, if I can become a millionaire while my kids are out of school and without an education…well, then this is all just a grand adventure! Maybe some good can come of this school job action after all.

What do you think?