I Long for a Good Publicity Stunt

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According to Marketing Vox, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) on Thursday released the WOMMA Ethics Assessment Tool, which helps marketers identify and eliminate unethical word-of-mouth marketing tactics before they are implemented.

I don’t know about you but I think the conversation about policing unethical word of mouth has gone overboard. Who’s to say what’s unethical when it comes to this form of marketing but the end consumer. If the end consumer thinks some actress on YouTube pretending to be a lonely high school teenager in order to garner fame is entertaining and authentic, then it is.

If a PR agency wants to pay bloggers to create “Working Families for Wal-Mart” as a publicity stunt, (web 2.0 lingo is astroturfing) well, maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t. I’m not saying that I’m for anything that is unethical in any way. I’m just saying that I think all of this call for some sort of absolute authenticity and transparency is being driven by people who seem to have a hold on the higher ground and at best it’s killing creativity.

Years and years of what were once called publicity stunts have fooled innocent participants, fueled careers and sold millions of dollars of product. Innocently and without anyone getting hurt – even with no organization looking out for them.

Marketers have always done goofy things. Some work, some don’t, some are incredibly authentic, some are corny. In the end, the consumer gets to decide what’s art and what’s a stunt.

In the mean time go out and find your Dr. Livingston – and blog about it everyday. Don’t let “ethics assessment tools” and the self appointed blog community sap your creativity. The market will let you know when you’ve crossed the line.


word of mouth

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