The U.S. Federal Trade Commission directed "companies engaging in word-of-mouth marketing, in which people are compensated to promote products to their peers," to "disclose those relationships." Otherwise, it could be deceptive marketing, as people are more likely to trust product endorsers "based on their assumed independence from the marketer," according to the FTC.
Should "viral" videos, produced and placed online by marketers but circulated by amused viewers, be labeled as advertising?
I'm listening to Neil Young's new album, Living With War. It's not my first time; I was lucky enough to be at a private listening last week in California. But now, along with millions of others connected to the Internet, I'm hearing it free of charge through my computer speakers, courtesy of Mr. Young and his absolutely brilliant bunch of guerrilla marketers and movement builders.
A "stealth marketing campaign" by Sony in Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York and other large U.S. cities is generating controversy. The "ads" are "black-on-white graffiti" with "wide-eyed cartoon characters riding a PlayStation like a skateboard, licking it like a lollipop or cranking it like a Jack-in-the-Box." A Philadelphia official sent a cease-and-desist letter to Sony, due to its zoning violations.
"There's something truly creepy about the notion of marketers manipulating what ordinary people say to one another," writes Jeff Gelles.
"When a beautiful girl walks up to you, and she's wearing the TV commercial on her chest, you just can't get away from it," enthused Adam Hollander, head of The Brand Marketers and creator of T-Shirt TV. The shirts contain speakers and 11-inch TV screens, which can show video ads, flash animation or slides.
Outside Grand Central Terminal in New York, six men and women plan to spend six hours advertising for a health club by flashing their underwear at strangers, in the hope that passersby will notice that the club logo appears on the garment. It's part of the growing use of guerrilla marketing, which the Times describes as "a broad range of advertising methods that strives to strike when people least expect it."