Metroactive Features: “Undercover marketing, which falls under the umbrella of stealth and guerrilla marketing, could be anywhere. Maybe at your favorite local bar? Or perhaps moms hired to sit at Little League games to boast of the merits of a laundry detergent? To a degree, this type of deceptive marketing spawns an Orwellian (literary reference) paranoid environment where no one can be trusted and interactions with strangers in public places are made to be questioned; is the random exchange for the benefit of a corporation’s product?”
Some undercover marketing scenarios:
- A consulting firm in Cambridge, Mass., planted subway riders with newspapers featuring fake back-page ads for their company. The idea was to give the impression the firm is well established and very successful.
- A company called Beer.com produced 50,000 bottle caps featuring its name and left them in bars during such peak party times as Mardi Gras and spring break.
- The Hasbro company recruited 1,600 cool kids, aged 8 to 10, in Chicago and paid them each $30 to play a new hand-held video game called “Pox” and tell their friends about it.
- A company in Montreal called Gearwerx hired two actors to board a crowded bus during the morning commute and loudly discuss what they did the night before. And fuck-me-sideways, wouldn’t you know it, their scripted conversation included a hearty dose of plugging the product. Yes, it’s a TV commercial come to real life.
- An amiable tourist in Times Square asks you, “Would you take a picture of me and my girlfriend?” as he hands you his Sony-Ericsson picture phone. The amiable tourist then shows you how the picture phone works, boasting its merits, and even offers to email you product information.