Astroturfing or lazy, cheap marketing?

As you are probably aware Trevor Cook and Paull Young in Australia have done some great work kicking off an anti-astroturfing initiative. [Kami Huyse has a new post on it.]

Watching television the other night, something I do less and less these days, I noticed a television ad for Nestle breakfast cereals that included prominent signage for “Brand Power” which seemed to be some third party endorser.  It set off some alarm bells. Now this may be well known to all of you – in fact there’s a lot of links on Technorati about BrandPower – but I’d never seen it before.

A quick visit to their site and you’re hit with the message “Brand Value – Facts and Value”. 

They describe BrandPower thus:

Brand Power is an advertising vehicle used by leading manufacturers to demonstrate the features and benefits of their products. We’re not an independent body – manufacturers pay to use our service. However, all claims made in a Brand Power commercial must be legally
substantiated to ensure that they are true.

Our objective is to avoid gimmicks and hype in the promotion of products. Instead we accurately articulate key reasons a particular product is worthy
of your attention when choosing at your local store.

Indeed. So it seems Brand Power (part of the Buchanan Group) does cheap infomercial type advertising for consumer brands.  It seems that the USP is that the production is cheap and cheerful and works on the premise that consumers are suitably stupid that the term “Brand Power” will make them think that this product is more reputable than you would otherwise.  “Wow that product is being advertised by Brand Power – I must purchase it.” Yep. That’s it.

So is it astroturfing? Nope.  Just crap marketing.

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4 thoughts on “Astroturfing or lazy, cheap marketing?

  1. I knew there was a reason I don’t watch TV anymore 😉

    Funny thing, even stuff that isn’t overtly nefarious can still be the stuff that a bad reputation is made of.

  2. Tom: we see those Brand Power ads all the time here in the Great White North. I can’t imagine them adding value to a brand, they’re so cheaply produced. Sadly for us Canadians, they’re still better than ads produced by the McCain’s food empire – who regularly buy big blocks of advertising time.

  3. So how does Brand Power differ from what we see every day in the paper, where “journalists” test drive new cars for free and somehow never, ever seem to find one that has any faults whatsoever?

  4. Tim,

    I’m not sure how behaviour elsewhere is relevant to this observation? I’m just pointing out that the Brand Power idea is an attempt at (cheaply) implying there’s more credibility in a particular advert because of the Brand Power “brand” – which instead of being some sort of third party validator – is actually just a cheap producer of infomercial type broadcasting.

    Thanks for the comment

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