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All I Want for Christmas Is Honesty

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Essay title: All I Want for Christmas Is Honesty

In a botched attempt to promote an already popular product, Sony Corporation damaged their image, and the overall feelings of consumers towards marketing and advertising. While shredding the ethic standards and practices set forth by most professionals in the field of advertising, Sony engaged in what most would consider an outrage of enormous proportions. Sony approached a marketing firm, then known as Zipatoni, but now known as Rivet, to help advance it's holiday sales of the sleek piece of gaming tech. The company then proceeded to churn out a brash, poorly constructed, and to some even offensive, counterfeit blog. This violates various tenants of the American Advertising Federation's (AAF) code of ethics (Weaver).

The first tenant of any legitimate professional code of ethics clearly didn't come into play during the decision to run this campaign, the tenant of truth. By consulting the AAF's code of ethics, one can easily see how this derailed campaign is completely and utterly unacceptable. AAF's code of ethics states clearly that “Advertising shall tell the truth, and shall reveal significant facts, the omission of which would mislead the public (Ethics).” This campaign breaks nearly every part of the previous sentence, and with gusto. We'll take this one part at a time. If one was trying to decide whether this practice was ethical based on the first fragment of the first sentence, it would already have failed.

This “flog(Weaver)” puts forward no truth from the beginning. Masquerading as the personal writings of two youths persuading family members to get them a PSP, this hoax site made no mention that it was indeed a ploy to move merchandise. Even when the site was exposed by the ever-vigilant Internet patrons, claims were made by the site's “creators,” stating “yo where all u hatas com from... juz cuz you aint feelin the flow of PSP dun mean its sum mad faek website or summ... youall be trippin(Hall). " This is a blatant lie. This isn't even a slight lie, or white lie, or lie by omission.

The second part of the sentence pertaining to significant facts, also deems this campaign unethical. To most people, the fact that this is a rouse constructed by the company of the product itself is a very significant fact. People really don't mind viewing advertisements, the difference is that ads in and of themselves are usually presented as just that, ads. They are not stealthily slipped into your life as something untouched by corporate hands.

To round out the first tenant of truth, we have the mother of them all, an “omission that would mislead the public (Ethics).” This is the principle against which the whole campaign runs. It was designed, created, and maintained with misleading the public foremost in mind. It is this kind of advertising and marketing that creates such distrust for the professions. One would think that companies would not want to engage in these actions because they are widely perceived as betraying their customers, which in turn would decrease overall sales.

This is not the first case of a company creating fake content designed to build hype. In a similar case dealing with public opinion as the product in question, Wal-Mart was also guilty of misleading the public in an “astro-turf (Stewart)” campaign. In 2005, the public relations firm Edelman to set up an advocacy called “Working Families for Wal-Mart ( Fernando).” An event was soon launched that chronicled the journey of two bloggers, Jim and Laura, who were to travel cross country in an RV staying at Wal-Marts along the way. It was unearthed by Business Week that Jim was a professional photojournalist, which soon led to the discovery that Edelman was behind the whole thing. Edelman rapidly stepped in and admitted guilt, and apologized for their involvement (Fernando). The difference between this story, and the case involving Sony is that the product was people's feelings, not a shiny game platform.

Moving on to the next breach as it would fall under the AAF's ethical standards, testimonials. Throughout the planted website are references to how amazing the PSP is, it's cost, and how it is “teh perfect gift( Supa).” This, of course would be completely fine if, in fact, the creator of the website was one of Sony's numerous fan-boys, but coming from a paid company in the guise of customer content is the breaking point of this ethical

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