Buzz Marketing

The decline in effectiveness of the 30-second spot is driving corporate marketers to a technique called "buzz marketing," which is the contrivance of word-of-mouth "buzz" for commercial profit.

As currently practiced, buzz marketing has four major problems:

1) It's deceptive. People think they’re talking to an ordinary person when they’re really talking to a corporate shill.

2) It’s very intrusive – it’s like telemarketing in your face.

3) Sometimes it involves taking advantage of the kindness of strangers. Most of us are kind enough to do a favor for a stranger – like take a picture of them. Sony, for example, took advantage of this to do product demonstrations.

4) It involves turning people’s friends and family against them, for profit. It would be a sad & suffocating world if we were surrounded by corporate shills (who once acted as our friends and family) hectoring us to buy products. The commercialization of human relationships is just one of many reasons why so many people think that corporate America has a huge values problem.

Key documents:

* Commercial Alert's petition to the Federal Trade Commission requesting an investigation of buzz marketing (10/18/05).

* The Federal Trade Commission's response to Commercial Alert's petition (12/11/06).

More Information

News Releases

FTC Gives “Giant Christmas Present” to P&G, Word of Mouth Marketing Industry
Gary Ruskin | December 11th, 2006

Commercial Alert Asks FTC to Investigate Buzz Marketers for Deception
Gary Ruskin | October 18th, 2005

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