"Fake Blogs, True Buzz" is the article title. Therein The Chicago Tribune [registration required] reports that advertising agencies are launching fake blogs to create buzz for new products:
- When a video-game tester named Beta-7 began suffering from blackouts and uncontrollable fits of violence, he launched a blog to campaign against the release of the game causing his problems. After four months of battling gamemaker Sega, Beta-7 mysteriously disappeared. Sound like the premise to a thriller? The Chicago Tribune [registration required] reports that it was a hoax.
- Beta-7 was part of a new marketing trend that uses fake blogs to promote products. Conceived by the New York office of Portland, Ore.-based advertising agency Wieden & Kennedy, the blog was intended to create a buzz for Sega's "ESPN NFL Football 2K4" game and draw attention away from Electronic Arts' "Madden Football 2004"--the game that dominates the segment.
BUT, BUT, BUT....
- But, surprisingly, many visitors to Sega's Beta-7 site who may have realized it was a hoax were entertained. Some commented on other blogs that they didn't care if Beta-7 was a marketing campaign or not. Weiden even created a conspiracy site (http://truth.fjear.com) that kept people guessing. Two real fan sites sprang up to follow the drama.
- Blog consultant Bruner attributes Beta-7s survival to seamless execution and short lifespan."They pulled one over on us, then they closed up shop. Good for them," he said. "I suspect that was the attitude of many bloggers who did follow it."
- According to Wieden, the three mock sites collectively attracted 2.2 million visitors and more than 4 million downloads in the four months they were active. The sites also proved sticky, meaning viewers tended to stay longer.