As you can imagine, I spent some time reading Emily’s blog, she had a lot to say about her soon to be ex-husband. The entries are well written and most of them were pretty funny. If you’ve ever been cuckolded; I think part of the blog’s appeal lies in the thrill of vicarious revenge fantasy. Here’s a sample:
…I began the heart-breaking process of clearing Steven’s crap out of the house. It’s not what you think. His belongings will not be stuffed into the garage. I will take meticulous care with his valued goods. Starting with his extensive wine collection. His pride and joy. His baby. I remember when we were looking at houses and how this one was the “one” because it had room for a wine cellar. He had the racks custom-made and filled them up with countless bottles. Some nights, I found him sitting down there listening to his jazz with a glass of his favorite vintage. Kinda spooky, actually.
Steven’s always been big into charities. For me, there’s something about charity that scares me. But I do like to give. So I drove around the neighborhood and personally donated a bottle of wine to all the hard-working landscapers. The smiles on their faces were priceless! It felt so good to just give. Oh and, Steven-honey? That Chateau La Mondotte Saint-Emilion that you’ve been saving for just the right moment – well that moment finally arrived! We may not be able to write this off, but can’t you feel the goodness manifest in your heart. I’ll be curious if they can tell the difference between the Henschke and the Bettenelli Cabernet Sauvignon. I couldn’t. I think it’s because I have, what Steven likes to refer to as, an “unsophisticated palette.”
Anyway, something didn’t ring quite true about the whole thing so I did some digging and found out it was a hoax. Apparently, the whole contrivance is a viral marketing campaign from Court TV. More correctly, this type of campaign is called a “shill”. Now, a lot of people seem to be upset about the campaign. Blogging purists are dismayed that corporate interests have eroded the credibility of blogging and bloggers or not, I wonder if people are more upset at having been duped or for some other reason? I think part of the dismay may be due to that the campaign was designed to take advantage of people’s emotions, and use a commonly shared negative experience to drive interest in their product. And maybe some of the anger is due to guilt. Vicariously enjoying Emily’s revenge towards Steve isn’t as much fun once we discover that the couple has been scripted to appeal to our basest instincts -and who wants to be reminded of that?
SO and I tossed some numbers and calculated that win or lose, the ad campaign was very low cost. Using a blogger blogspot (free) account was brilliant. I think the use of a blog as supporting drama provided the majority of compelling interest. Whether the campaign is ethically questionable or not, it’s not often that a staged event in Real Life drives interest -and traffic- in the online community. Also, shill campaigns have been limited to politics not products. It’d definitely be illegal to use a shill product campaign if a purchase were required but does that hold if the products are free?
What do you think? Does this kind of advertising cross the line? Assuming it were ethically cleaner than this example, how could designers use staged events and blogs in tandem to create interest in their product lines?
Meanwhile, even though the cat’s out of the bag, Emily is still blogging. I wonder how long the long tail of this cat will be.