All I Want for Christmas Is an End to Stealth Marketing

Charlie "was a hip-hop artist, very 'street.' ... He started a blog,, where he mused in urban patois about how his cousin Pete really, really wanted a Sony PSP for Christmas." The website was a "flog," or fake blog, launched by Sony to market the game system. "Sony's admission ... comes less than two months after it was revealed that Wal-Mart's public relations firm, Edelman, had been behind the blog 'Wal-Marting Across America,'" notes Sam McManis. "Flogs aren't rampant -- yet," but "marketers often turn to alternative forms of advertising. ... For several years now, marketers have paid 'real people' to talk up products ranging from cell phones to hair gel on city buses, at sporting events or in bars. Procter & Gamble, for instance, has 'sponsored' more than 200,000 teenagers to use products and recommend them to friends." The company PayPerPost offers companies a "network of bloggers" to promote their goods. Following the Wal-Mart / Edelman incident, PayPerPost "developed a disclosure policy for bloggers to 'accelerate transparency.'"