The gentleman, who is out to dinner with his wife, responds. “Yes, we’re wondering about this sponsored dish, the Visa Veal Scallopini?”
The waiter responds enthusiastically, “Oh, yes, it’s fantastic, and it is served with a side of stewed tomatoes and roasted peppers.”
The man looks perplexed. His wife jumps in and asks, “Why is it called a sponsored dish?”
The waiter explains, “Well, Visa is the preferred credit card of the restaurant and they prepare this dish.”
“Visa, the credit card company, makes the Veal Scallopini?” the man inquires further.
“Yes,” affirms the waiter.
“So your chef doesn’t cook this dish?” the woman asks as a follow-up.
“That’s correct. Our chef makes all of the other dishes on the menu, but the Visa Veal Scallopini is cooked by Visa, the credit card company.”
What the waiter doesn’t share is that he earns a commission each time he sells a sponsored dish. The night prior, the waiter served up Lexus Lamb to six customers and earned an additional $300. Tonight, he senses an opportunity and goes in for the close.
“The Visa Veal has been pretty popular tonight. I have to check to see if we still have it available. May I take your drink order and then come back with an update on the veal?”
The waiter returns a few minutes later with two martinis and says, “We only have a few Visa Veals left. Are you ready to order?”
The woman orders the scallops wrapped in prosciutto over a bed of garlic mashed potatoes, and her husband says he will give the Visa Veal a try. “It must be good if it’s on your menu.”
The waiter walks away, keeping his grin in check. The couple clink their drinks to toast their long overdue date night.
After another round of drinks, a bottle of wine, and an appetizer of grilled calamari, the waiter serves the main course. “The scallops are out of this world. Would you like to try one?” says the woman to her husband, who is chewing on his Visa Veal like a piece of gum. He reaches his fork over the table and stabs a scallop.
The waiter comes over to check on the couple. The woman smiles and tells the waiter how delicious the scallops are, while her husband says, “The veal wasn’t what I was expecting.”
The waiter apologizes and offers the couple dessert on the house. They accept and the waiter returns with a piece of cheesecake. He also brings the check, which is inside a soft black leather folder that proudly displays the Visa logo embroidered on the cover.
Later that evening, the man and his wife go to bed -- knowing they need to make more time for date nights, and that they will try another restaurant the next time they do.
Content produced by an advertiser -- and served to look like it came from a publisher’s kitchen -- is like paying a chef to give its customers food poisoning.
Final note: I just read this week’s Native Insider prior to submitting this column. The statement that “users are twice as likely to click on a native advertising post” made me throw up a little in my mouth. This ridiculous stat is not a reflection of consumer interest. Rather, it proves consumers are being fooled. Anyone writing that column is welcome to debate me on this topic. Rhetoric on native advertising has gone from a bad joke to downright insulting.