Monday, November 27, 2006
WalMart's Deceptive 'Astroturf' BlogWalMart and its public relations firm Edelman are taking heat for running a blog that pretends to be a grass roots website. As detailed by MediaPost, Edelman staffers write the blog posts and the company does not make it obvious who is running the show.
On the About Us page of Working Families for Wal-Mart, it states that the organization "is a group of leaders from a variety of backgrounds and communities all across America." Yes, Edelman does have offices "all across America," but that's not exactly telling the truth.
Edelman has been suspended from the Word of Mouth Marketing Association and could be expelled for running the website.
There will always be organizations that use phony grassroots (or Astroturf) campaigns to try and fool consumers into believing that the campaigns are viral, but usually it is not organizations as well known as WalMart and Edelman. As with the "video news releases" that are passed of to news organizations, most of the time the truth will come out, and the companies pay the price in negative press. The critics of the blogosphere have made it more difficult to fool consumers, giving marketers even more reason to stop.
By John Gartner at 11:46 AM | Comments (1)