Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Flog Alert Repository?; Company Training About Ethics Violations

Does anyone know of a central place where people are keeping a list of all the companies who have engaged in stealth marketing (including flogs, or fake blogs)? The latest flog (over a week old now) seems to be Sony for their PSP: (see links below for stories covering this development; of course is not the first time for Sony as they messed around with stealth marketing with the Sony Beta 7 as well).

Sony, or at least one part of Sony, is a member of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (for which I'm an advisory board member), so I would hope that at least some representatives from their company are learning about how social media works and the ethics involved so that no part of their company continues the use of stealth tactics.

The viral marketing firm that created the flog for Sony is Zipatoni (not a WOMMA member). According to a report in a MediaPost article, a person claiming to be a Zipatoni representative contends they advised Sony that there might be this backlash, but their client went ahead with it anyway (this information should be treated with caution, though, because none of this has been confirmed).

Anyway, this story, the Edelman fake blog scandal with Wal-Mart, and many other companies point to the importance of the education work that needs to be done within corporations about social media and ethics. At the latest WOMMA Summit in D.C. Rick Murray from Edelman gave an update on how his company has implemented a mandatory training program for all their employees. Further, they set up a 24/7 hotline where anyone around the world can call in with questions to make sure they are behaving in an ethically approriate way. They also engaged in a review of all their existing programs to ensure that there are no further violations of the WOMMA Ethics Code (at the time of the presentation they were 98% done). Read this post for more details about what Edelman is doing in response.

Other links about the Sony fake blog for PSP:

Sony 'fesses to fake blog. Still gets it wrong. -- Michael O'Connor Clarke

Oh Sony, What Were You Thinking? -- David Binkowski

Sony pays PR firm to lie about wanting a PSP for Christmas -- Videogamesblogger.comSony's holiday marketing campaign sniffed out -- Engadget

Sony Confesses To Creating 'Flog,' Shutters Comments -- Media Post Article

And be sure to check out the following link for a YouTube video created by gamers essentially saying that Sony is stupid for thinking that gamers are stupid and wouldn't figure out the flog.

Thanks to Constantin Basturea for some of the links above.