Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, October 21, 2021

When is a grass-roots blog not a grass-roots blog?

Seemingly, anytime it’s in support of Wal-Mart. Public relations shop Edelman admitted that its employees were the authors of a few pro-Wal-Mart blogs: Working Families for Wal-Mart, a sort of hub-blog from which sprang Exposing Wal-Mart’s Paid Critics and Wal-Marting Across America.

Edelman’s reaction to the exposure? Along with some “what’s the big deal” indignance from Wal-Marting Across America (the big deal is that you’re being paid to fake it, you PR hack you), the firm’s head honcho was appropriately contrite:

This week, Richard Edelman, president and CEO of the firm, apologized on his own blog: “I want to acknowledge our error in failing to be transparent about the identity of the two bloggers from the outset. This is 100% our responsibility and our error; not the client’s.”

It’s a hollow apology, considering Edelman’s previous blog trickery in service of Wal-Mart:

In its ongoing campaign to counter all the negative media it’s attracted over the years, Wal-Mart is playing the blog card by sparkling bloggers’ eyes with “exclusive” news releases that accentuate the company’s viewpoint.

Naturally, content-starved (and lazy) bloggers lap it up, to the point of cutting-and-pasting the copy they get from Wal-Mart’s PR firm, Edelman, directly into their posts. Which, when viewed through search-engine prisms, quickly lets the cat out of the corporately-manipulated bag.

So this subversive behavior shouldn’t be a surprise — Edelman’s a repeat offender. The firm is making a regular practice out of stealth marketing by use of the blog format. It’s a way to manufacture legitimacy — until it inevitably gets smoked out, at which point it backfires. In my mind, this puts a permanent black mark next to any organization that engages Edelman in its public-imaging efforts, because it should be clear by now how this firm has chosen to be intentionally dishonest with its campaigning.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/21/2006 08:11:17 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Bloggin', Business
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How much is a fine dining experience worth to you? How does two Andy Jacksons sound to you — sans the side dishes and drinks? More and more upscale (and merely upscale-ish) eateries are breaking the $40-entree price barrier, amid much grousing.

The real genius part about it, though, is the effect it’s had on lower-priced menu items:

But what makes the rise of the $40 entree so significant is not just the price creep, it’s the sophisticated calculation behind it. A new breed of menu “engineers” have proved that highly priced entrees increase revenue even if no one orders them. A $43 entree makes a $36 one look like a deal.

“Just putting one high price on the menu will take your average check up,” said Gregg Rapp, one such consultant. “My mom taught me to never order the most expensive thing on the menu, but you’ll order the second.”

Pretty shrewd maneuvering. Think about that the next time you order a $25 plate of burger and fries at Hard Rock Cafe.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/21/2006 06:41:08 PM
Category: Business, Food
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