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Fake Blogging and an Equally Fake Apology
Fake blogs—a form of viral marketing in which PR or advertising agencies attempt to generate interest in their client's product by creating a fictional character on the internet—are drawing criticism from real bloggers. The Cohn & Wolfe PR firm had to apologize recently after "using a fictional character to leave a series of thinly veiled advertisements on blogs and other websites. A number of websites were hit last week with messages from Barry Scott," a fictional spokesman for a British household cleaning product. British blogger Tom Coates was especially outraged and called it "a new low for marketers" after he wrote an emotional account of his relationship with his father, and then received comment spam from "Barry Scott" disguised as condolences. Coates replied: "My view was that any right-thinking person would view trying to market your product on such a post as revolting, corrupt, cynical, disgusting, sick and dishonourable." According to some PR people, however, fake blogging is a good idea.