The Sony flogging | The motley madman

There is a bit of outrage emanating from the blogosphere. Apparently, Sony (NYSE: SNE) was caught in the act of creating a fake blog – “flog” is the term for this sort of thing – to entice consumers to buy his PSP devices. The site may have been taken down, but the controversy continues.

This is not the first time that something of this nature has happened. Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) face similar controversy last March, when some pro-Wal-Mart bloggers failed to disclose receiving information from the retailer’s public relations firm, Edelman. Apparently no lessons were learned last year, as a similar issue reoccurred last October, when Edelman promoted Wal-Mart with a fake travel blog.

It is also not the first time that something of this nature has happened at Sony. In August 2005, Sony installed $ 1.1 million class action lawsuit related to his 2001 making of a fake movie reviewer praising his films The story of a knight, Animal, and Hollow man.

Many believe that traditional marketing is losing its effectiveness and that the way businesses advertise is radically change these days. I have absolutely no problem with the idea that businesses can use the blogosphere (think Google‘s (NASDAQ: GOOG) corporate blog) or sites such as News Corp.‘s (NYSE: NWS) MySpace to increase awareness of their products – as long as they’re honest about it. The problem here is transparency.

Basically, according to various sites such as MediaPost and iMedia Connection (theNew York Times also addressed the news in an article yesterday, pointing out that the term “flog” was coined by Tom Siebert of MediaPost), Sony’s “flog” was supposed to be a blog called “alliwantforxmasisapsp.com”. The premise was that it was created by a guy who has a PSP as well as a friend who wants a PSP. It was actually created for Sony by Zipatoni, a PR firm specializing in the kind of viral marketing that’s popular these days. Once the fact that it was a “flog” was revealed by commentators on the site, Sony admitted that the blog was an advertising vehicle, and it has now been deleted. (Mediabistro reported that someone has checked in the page deleted for posterity – including many indignant comments from Sony detractors “spreading the word”, not to mention indignation, about the bogus site.)

An FTC staff notice recently stated that companies using word of mouth marketing must exercise full disclosure. It’s a shame that we tell them things that should be common sense. When I wrote about Wal-Mart’s blog error last year, I pointed out that situations like this make businesses look devious and devious. Plus, they’re playing with fire anyway – when discovered, the outrage in the blogosphere is about as good as it gets for spreading bad PR, speaking of the viral spread of information. . Like I’ve said in the past, honesty promotes good ethics and good business, and it looks like Sony’s attempt to sneak in – and I mean sneak – in the minds and hearts of his target market really turned against him with this misguided campaign.

Other viral follies:

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Alyce Lomax does not own any shares in any of the companies mentioned. The fool has a disclosure policy.

This article represents the opinion of the author, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a premium Motley Fool consulting service. We are heterogeneous! Challenging an investment thesis – even one of our own – helps us all to think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.


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