Doc Searls doesn't like some of the surreptitious marketing that's going on:
Several people have asked me what I think about BuzzAgent, so here's my joint answer to all of them: It sucks. Where Marqui is up front about what it's doing, and engaging bloggers in conversation (as well as promotion), BuzzAgent and its clients are being surreptitious and false, and spreading a virus of falsity through its agents. Mass market advertising has always been impersonal, and often (okay, almost always) fake. BuzzAgent's system allows advertisers to be no less fake, but in person, face to face. Even if the agents really do love the products they shill, their love is bought. Worse, it comes cheap.
To these kinds of marketers, "markets are conversations" means "delivering messages" through talk. What they miss is that the next stage beyond conversation is relationship. And that relationship isn't just with a "brand." To have real value, the relationsihp needs to be with the people behind that brand. And that relationship takes place in the public marketplace.
I fail to see the harm. People become unpaid advocates of products all the time; these people are simply moving one step up from that. Go see a movie; those products you see the characters using are all part of product placement - which is pretty much the same thing. Hang around a bunch of developers sometime and listen to the Java advocates arguing with the C+ developers, or with the Smalltalk developers. Are those people cheap shills too? Or are they somehow purer due to the fact that no one is rewarding them for their love of a particular product?
If this is true:
The Al Fresco campaign is over -- having notably boosted sales, by 100 percent in some stores -- but she is still spreading word of mouth about a variety of other products, and revealing her identity, she said, would undermine her effectiveness as an agent.
Then you better get used to it - because any campaign that works is one you'll see more of.