Noelle Weaver from AdAge has a very interesting post about a Sony’s flog (fake blog)
Sony and agency Zipatoni have come under fire for one of their marketing tactics for the Sony PSP. Sony has added its name to a growing list of flogs [fake blogs] including McDonald’s, WalMart and Lonely Girl 115, that are being called out by consumers. […]
This time the wrath comes from a blog titled alliwantforxmasisapsp.com (which has apparently been taken down by Sony) that featured two guys trying to spread the word about convincing family members to get one of them a PSP for Christmas. [K: I believe Sony should have done better by putting up a “We are sorry” page.] Except the whole thing wasn’t really a blog — a fact revealed by cyber sleuths who looked up the domain’s registration file. [K: Lesson: try not to lie, then no tracks need to be covered.] It was all just an advertising ploy. Once this news broke, it only took a matter of hours for the word to spread and the rapid fire comments and responses began. [K: Good news travel fast. Bad news travel even faster.]
I’m sure the one thing Sony did NOT expect was the amount of active bashing of the brand [and the site] that has virally spread over every gaming site and marketing blog out there. [K: There is a serious lesson to be learned here.] Top gaming site Penny Arcade had this to say,
“Unwilling to let an increasingly savvy portfolio of titles speak to gamers directly, they chose instead to bring aboard guerilla marketing gurus Zipatoni to do irreparable damage to their brand.” [K: A ton of damage for sure. “Irreparable” or not, we will see.]
The article goes on:
“The reality is that no agency can create viral marketing, this is the sole domain of the consumer. Viral marketing is what happens when a campaign works — when we allow their message to travel via our own super efficient conduits. Perhaps it is entertaining on its own terms, divorced from the message. Perhaps it is a game or a story, like I Love Bees or other ARGs, where we take ownership in it. What distinguishes this from Guerilla Marketing is that we are aware of the message. When we are not aware of the message, or when the agents of the message misrepresent themselves, we call this “deception.” [K: strong words but I think this is accurate.]
Finally, some lessons learned.
The lesson learned in this debacle for small agencies like us is not so much about covering your tracks when creating alternative marketing but something much bigger;
1] Good advertising doesn’t rely on tricking, lying to or deceiving your target audience.
2] The consumer is smarter than you think, alternative marketing tactics must be genuine, authentic and in today’s world, transparent.
3] Today’s interest in brand politics means that everything you do will come under scrutiny from someone. See number 2.
4] Involve your consumer in the brand conversation, give them the tools to do so and they will repay you four-fold.
Today’s audience might forgive you once, but make the same mistake twice and many will hold the brand and company accountable for the mistakes other’s make.
As an aside, Sony’s image as a Lovemark is definitely damaged in this case.