A woman scorned?

On one of my favorite sites (be careful, a real time waster) last week, I found a link to a blog called That Girl Emily and this photo of a billboard from one of the posts on her site.

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.

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  1. Alison Cummins says:

    I found it last week and thought it was so obviously fake that it didn’t occur to me to feel deceived. I didn’t even look it up: I just thought, “Oh, cute, a new form of short-story telling.”

    But yeah, it does annoy me not to be told who’s telling the story. Like, what’s the tie-in to Court TV? That part I didn’t guess. And I don’t like the idea that now I have to look up every single bit of input to find out who generated it.

  2. Kathleen says:

    I don’t want this topic to derail; I am still interested in hearing how/if designers can use blogs in unique ways to create a buzz about their product lines for basically no money. I think blogs are a vastly underutilized resource (guerilla marketing) and it is very inexpensive to do it.

    I haven’t been linking to producers because then I’d have to link to all the designers to be fair because I don’t want to jury. However, if enough des started blogging, I’d start a blog roll. Naturally, I’d expect a reciprocal link in return (it depresses me that so few regular visitors share this resource).

  3. Sherry says:

    Kathleen, it’s funny you should mention sharing your blog with others. I just met someone at a new job assignment who is a DE. He designs T-shirts (I know how you feel about those, and I generally agree with you, but these I actually like), and I gave him your blog address as a valuable resource and told him about your book.

    I never get a chance like that so I was amazed that I even had an opportunity to share information in such an unlikely place. (I do not currently work in anything fashion related.)

    Just goes to show that you just never know who you will meet and what information you will get to share.

    Hopefully, he’ll invest in your book, or at least share the information with more people who will invest in the book.

  4. Camille says:

    Weird. I don’t like it. I don’t like it when I’m accused of being a “shill”. I’m not a shill. I also don’t sell anything from my blog so I can’t be accused of trying to make a buck…. anyway…

    I was digging around somewhere and found this blog about dog strollers. If you want to take your dog for a walk, or maybe into a store… and you don’t want to or can’t do the leash thing (works for cats, too) you put them in a stroller and you can sort of zip down a cover thing to make it more of a cage/kennel thing…

    anyway, someone who was selling their line of doggy strollers had a blog. It wasn’t that interesting, but they showed their dogs (little ones) going to the park and looking at the ducks (out of the stroller). They talked a little about the decision to market doggy strollers…. I’m guessing they contacted a manufacturer in Taiwan and maybe customized a stroller idea or maybe it was a standard stroller and they picked the color and the name that would get printed on it… it didn’t look terribly high quality….

    anyway… it was a way of using a blog in a reasonable and open way to advertise a product.

    Court.tv ought to be more ethical… then again lawyers are not always known for their ethics….

    I wonder if there is a woman scorned blog for real that is as interesting as the Emily’s.

    Hey, Kathleen, have you thought about a billboard?

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