What do you think about this? If you read tech blogs you might know that much of their content comes from tips from their readers. Sometimes the reader points out a little known site with a worthy story. Other times they are privy to some insider information that the rest of us are not. Well, big companies are becoming aware of how it all works and they are attempting to use it to their advantage.
This article at slate.com points out a handful of queries about the Burger King King Mask for Halloween. Rather than send a press release to blogs which might run a story that Burger King now has King Masks available BK has allegedly approached the blog in the form of emails from citizens who “heard” about the masks and were wondering if Slate.com knew about them.
In another case Microsoft (makers of the Xbox 360) allegedly sent “tips” to Engadget.com that demos of upcoming games will soon be available for play at kiosks in Wal Mart stores. These “tips” arrived disguised (poorly with identical IP addresses) as information gleaned from Wal mart store employees and customers.
Check the links for samples of the covert marketing ploys.
I am going back and forth on how I feel about this. Is it dishonest? I suppose it is. Is it illegal? I don’t know. Is it effective? Well both of the blogs in my examples wrote stories about it. Granted the articles were pointing out the companies’ deception, but the damage/promotion is still done.
I have to say I don’t blame the companies. They are essentially playing ball. “Hacking” into the systems that report what’s hot and implanting their message. At the same time I understand the geeks getting pissed at the intrusion. The same way NYC rock bands got pissed when big business got hip to postering and stickers. But that is the way of things. The struggle to remain one step ahead keeps people sharp in my opinion. What do you think?