Have you been the victim of underground marketing?

I caught part of the 60 minutes episode last night. I assume it was a repeat so I apoligize if this has been asked before. I couldn’t find anything on search. They were talking about marketing firms trying to create artificial buzz and word of mouth using planted shills in public places. They are also using posters to various websites and message boards to advertise movies and such. So the question is, have you ever been exposed to these practices? Has the SDMB been hit with underground marketing?

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People have come here to try to shill various films, etc. – such posts get reported to the mods and the person making them will be banned and the post deleted.

Probably not - the mods are vigilant about deleting spam. For someone to get away with underground marketing here, they would have to be subtle and intelligent - after all, it’s not easy to fool dopers, right? (Don’t answer that.)

Ok I won’t. What they showed wouldn’t look like traditional spam. They are using fans to go on message boards and talk about their own obsessions. “Hey Spiderman2 was really great I liked the part where…” They aren’t even paying them. Sometimes they just get t-shirts and posters. The mods might not be able to pick it up. They also showed where they would have people sitting at bars hoping that someone will bum a cigarette off of them. This might be easier to figure out. They are getting sneakier.

I have to admit that there was a time when I thought that Transmeta was up to something interesting.

That would explain an exchange I’ve seen between two posters (or a poster and a sock) on another board. Shoot me an email and I’ll send you the link.

Hmm…so what if a real member (me) who has been around for a while (still me) eventually gets that record deal and wants to encourage their Straight Dope friends to run out and buy a copy for everyone they’ve ever met so said member’s music career doesn’t flop terribly and they don’t have to go begging for their old job back? Would that be okay, or is that a little shillish?

I saw some posters on the subway once.

The SMDB is rumored to have “plants” from the studios hyping their films. Check out the Catwoman message board… There’s a poster there who has made posts about no other movie, and all his/her posts are about how great Catwoman will be. This person (or people) has posted literally hundreds of messages, sometimes a dozen a day, only during business hours and Monday-Friday. Seems mighty suspicious – way beyond simple fandom. Other boards have similar people posting on them.

I guess it’s not surprising. If you look at financial message boards, you’ll see people pumping up their favorite stocks in the hope of getting readers to buy. Why should other boards for other industries be different? (Other than the fact that they’re peddling lies, but hey, who’s counting? :slight_smile: )


There was one not too long ago. I actually replied to it (someone had posted something like “Countdown to deletion” and I made a not-terribly witty comment). Couldn’t find it in my subscribed threads, so I assume that it was deleted (although they really never delete anything, do they?).

It’s not as hard as you think to get this stuff in. In fact, when I was looking for advice re: computer stuff, I posted about a half dozen messages over the course of the week saying, “how’s X?” “I’m thinking of getting Y,” &c. I was actually worried that someone would accuse me of your “underground marketing.”

The problem though is that it’s even more difficult to determine if this stuff is effective than normal advertising (which is probably why they give some loser a T-shirt and let him go - cheap). If you explore the example I give below, it’s incredible how many people like to do this sort of shit.

Lots of bands use “street teams” which you may want to check out if you’re interested in learning more about how to get some underpaid slobs to do your marketing (I actually almost signed up for one. We were supposed to get a van and drive to each of the cities that this band (never even knew their name, a friend was organizing this) was touring to drop off posters, CDs, etc. I thought it was a cool way to see the country (or at least MidWest) even though it didn’t pay too well. Turned out to not go through though.

I think you’ve been hanging around here too much. :wink:

Corporate whore. Why don’t you just fellate Michael Eisner while you’re at it?

All this talk of underground marketing makes me want to drink a cool, refreshing Mountain Dew. The X-Treme drink of the SDMB. :wink:

On a related note, has anyone ever thought of doing a little undergound marketing to get more members on our beloved SDMB?

I was just wondering.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Spiderman2 fans would want to spread how good it is, on their own; Spiderman 2 was a very good film, entertaining for the entire family, and is the must see blockbuster of this summer.

Ask for permission to post a thread about it. It might be granted, depending on what it is (Ed, not surprisingly, has a VERY soft spot for authors) and whether or not you’re a long term poster. We’ve allowed such announcements before, when it’s a one time thing. That is, you can’t flog stuff constantly. Don’t link to your eBay auctions, etc. The very worst that can happen is that we’ll say no, and there’s a good chance that we’ll say yes, as long as you ask FIRST.

As for the underground marketing, yeah, we get some of that here. One of my self-imposed duties is to read through the new member registrations. An awful lot of people register and never post. Then there are people who register and make LOTS of posts in that same day. When I see someone who’s newly registered, and has made a post, I usually (but not always) check out the post(s). Most of the time, it’s a genuine newbie, and I leave him or her alone. Sometimes it’s a troll, in which case I cackle gleefully while squashing him/her like the insect s/he is, and remove all the posts that I can. Sometimes it’s a spammer, which is usually pretty obvious. Some spams, incidentally, look almost real…except that they have referrer IDs in the link. And sometimes we get these underground marketers, which sometimes are clever enough that we really don’t notice them until later, I’m afraid. We do catch quite a few of them. Personally, when I see a newbie post something like “Product/movie/whatever is GREAT and everyone should go consume it!” my first thought is that this post is spam. Sometimes it’s a legit newbie, but I’d say that most of the time it’s spam/underground marketing.

I’ve also seen a lot of new registrants post links to their websites. These frequently are to other message boards, for some reason, but we sometimes get people posting about their band, or their artwork, or some other creative endeavor. Oddly, many of them don’t seem to realize that this is, indeed, spam, and get quite frustrated when I tell them not to do it. I had to remove one guy’s posting three or four times. He’d signed up under several different names, and wanted the SDMB readers to go to a website and vote for a particular film. Of course, he was one of the film makers, and he and his crew were up for some sort of award, which included material rewards, but according to him, this wasn’t spam or advertising. I finally got tired of arguing with him by email (I’d written to him after I found the second name and posting) and blocked his email from my inbox, and blocked his IP from posting.

A while back, there was some sort of bot that was running around posting replies to people’s LiveJournals, praising a movie and urging everyone to see it. The LJs hit seemed to be completely random, and it really got a lot of people mad. Personally, I screen all non-friends entries in my LJ, but I can understand that other people might not want to do this.

I post on a fashion/beauty message board and we get shills all the time. Mostly they’re quite easy to spot (low number of posts, all praising X brand, won’t listen to any criticism), but it’s conceivable that someone could be posting in a number of topics to hide their true agenda. But posters aren’t necessarily consumer dupes who will buy anything recommended to them. I remember one shill with about 4 posts, all about the one store, started a thread that was like:

Shill: What do you think about X company? I’ve found them to be really great.
Poster: I think it’s overpriced and the staff are never around when you need help. (Which was completely true - at least about the overpricing. The store, which sells home storage equipment like wardrobes, laundry baskets, tupperware, has wooden coat hangers for $5 apiece when they are $2 for 3 at other stores)

thread dies

On the other hand, that board is particularly vulnerable to shills because it’s very consumption-oriented, and many of the participants are teenage girls who use the board to guide many of their fashion/beauty purchases. Many posters legitimately make recommendations, so that makes it even more difficult to separate

Oh yes…I’ve read that some companies will give celebrities items, in the hope that the celebrity will like the item well enough to use or wear or consume the item in public, or talk about it in public. I’ve also read that some companies will give out products to cool or attractive looking people, with the understanding that these people will use the items in public.

No, I DON’T know how one goes about getting companies to offer high-tech toys to one.

Wow, Lynn, do we pay you enough to do all that research, monitoring and crap? :smiley: