Fake blogs, true buzz

The Chicago Tribune reported this weekend on how phony messages and hoax campaigns on the internet have gained acceptance as a marketing promotional tool with a goal of drawing attention to new product offerings.

The paper quotes the example of a video-game tester named Beta-7. When he began suffering from blackouts and uncontrollable fits of violence, he launched a blog to campaign against the release of the game causing his problems.

The Beta-7 blog and two others featured pictures of injuries suffered by gamers during blackouts, and bulletin-board messages were posted across the internet about the adverse side effects of playing. Confidential company memos, purportedly acquired by another game tester, were posted that portrayed gamemaker Sega as increasingly worried about the problems.

After four months of battling Sega, Beta-7 mysteriously disappeared. It was all a hoax – Beta-7 was part of a new marketing trend that uses fake blogs to promote products.

Beta-7 ran for four months and ended with the September release of the game. The unique campaign – the sites attracted 2.2 million visitors – appears to be successful. Sega said sales have improved over last year by 20 percent, selling about 360,000 games.

The Tribune’s article also discusses fake blog campaigns that went badly wrong for Dr Pepper and Warner Bros.

Interesting reading. Is this really the way things are going to be in the new marketing mix? Real-blogger trust and credibility will be priceless commodities.

Chicago Tribune | Fake blogs, true buzz (registration required).