The Internet is a weird place mostly because it’s a venue for so many expressions of culture to thrive. And, for ever culture thriving, there is some sort of leech attaching itself, trying to suck whatever trendy or topical power to sustain itself. What do we call that? Advertising.
As we saw on this past season on the always brilliant South Park, advertising can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and each one of them is ridiculous. There are scam-bait outlinking articles at the bottom of most websites that try to get you click on bogus listicles about unrecognizable celebrities and musings on if science has gone too far. There are sneaky advertorials, where the advertising is interwoven into whatever article or video or content you are ingesting. One of the strangest and trendiest things to do is promote products from your social media, incorporating them into your life while getting financial kickbacks for doing so.
The latter is particularly strange when you realize that some are trying to make a living by being an advertisement, by only making things that are in some way an advertising ploy. Of course, all social media and online promotion is effectively advertising—but that’s for the self. What if your entire self is akin to the content of a pop-up ad? That makes you a living pop-up ad.
That’s why “social media star” Drew Canole is fascinating: he is a living pop-up ad. A hunk, sure, but he is a shill for shilling, operating under the tagline, “Your Health Is Your Wealth.” And he has a lot of health and wants to take your wealth. He is the “founder” of something called FitlifeTV, which seems like a fairly standard healthy lifestyle destination—but it’s so much more than that.
You’ll find that the site is full of pop-ups and seemingly bogus articles like “8 Happy, Natural Ways To Boost Your Mood NOW” and “Can Social Media Help You Lose Weight?” and “Reset Your System To Get Your Summer Body,” all of which are framed by photos of people who went from fat and sad to fit and happy along with products like “Tumeric Boost” and “Green Juice.”
Moreover, a lot of these postings relate to Drew’s YouTube channel FitLifeTV which has over 320K subscribers and features similar content, which I’ve included above and below. The draw here is that—instead of a faceless blogger speaking bogus claims to you—you get dreamy Drew acting them out, coaxing you to try these ridiculous products. He takes the YouTube format and shoves some sort of questionable product(s) and practice(s) into a bastardization of the DIY, lifestyle, and fitness genres.
Much of his content seems simple enough, born of innocent curiosity—but, duh, it’s not: it’s all an advertisement. The call is coming from within the house and the people on the phone are the bizarre Organifi, a producer of “health juices” that are made from powder. Trend item on trend item on trend item which, as we know, is all bullshit. Moreover, it’s a buy for you to try a trend that you could go to the store to do yourself but—like bogus exercise equipment—you are too lazy to do the work without these lifestyle products. These very bogus products that provide “Juice Transformations” are for people like your grandparents to impulse buy when desparate to drop weight for your wedding.
While I did find that some of the before and after people like Ted Harris legit had their “lives changed” over three years ago, it all seems very fishy since similar things are so extremely bogus. The difference is that Drew, a sweet and gorgeous man, a”real” human, is attached to the product. If you dig in more to things like “Juice With Drew” and “Juicing Vegetables,” things start to get murky and uncomfortable.
This is all a strange example of how advertising has evolved, to become a lifestyle, a community, a cult. Surely, there is something more going on behind his dreamy eyes, beyond his living clickbait. Perhaps this is the future? That seems so grossly scary.