Defense of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop offers case study on how to sell snake oil. While trying to hammer a medical blogger, Goop nails the best ways to sell BS.—Beth Mole, Ars Technica
This week, Gwyneth Paltrow’s high-profile lifestyle and e-commerce site, Goop, gave birth to a beautiful gift to the Internet—and it wasn’t a moon-powered vagina egg that invigorates our mystical “life force.” No, it was a perfectly crafted reference guide for how to sell snake oil.
It’s really quite impressive.
On Thursday, Goop finally struck back. In a post titled “Uncensored: A Word from Our Doctors,” the Goop team suggests that the gloves are off and it’s ready to tussle. As the Internet collectively grabbed popcorn, Paltrow herself tweeted the post, writing “When they go low, we go high.”
But Goop didn’t go high. Going high would be providing data to back health claims and dubious products. Going high would be denouncing bogus products and consulting with evidence-based doctors on effective remedies—or at least discussing potential harms of unproven ones. Even adding clear warnings on products and practices that lack evidence on effectiveness and safety would be inching upward. In general, going high would be clearly putting the health and well-being of customers ahead of profits.
Instead, the Goop team went low—basically not changing position. It defended its evidence-free and potentially harmful products while personally attacking one specific medical blogger, Dr. Jen Gunter, an Ob/Gyn who has knocked back many of Goop’s products and claims.
In addition, though, what Goop did was provide a clear how-to on peddling bogus remedies, which I will break down for you—for fun and so that future iterations can be easily spotted.