Buzz Kill

To counter criticism of "buzz" or guerrilla marketing, the year-old Word of Mouth Marketing Association developed a code of ethics. The Association includes the Burson-Marsteller, Edelman and Rowland Communications PR firms, along with marketing agencies and advertisers. The Association's ethics code calls for "honest disclosure of relationship, opinion and identity," which would end the practice of hiring actors to play satisfied consumers. "The whole idea of marketing is to not make it look like marketing," remarked the co-founder of Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, an agency that once hired actors to drink a brand of cognac "at trendy bars and chat with patrons about the pricey product."