Want to see a high-end PR disaster in progress? Go here.
Lee pointed it out in one of the comment threads:
[A]nyone who is interested in astroturfing should check out this community on LiveJournal. The “community” in question is one of LJ’s less-inspired notions, a “corporate-sponsored” promotional site. But of particular interest is the fact that most of the people making positive comments about the movie have brand-new LJ accounts. If these aren’t corporate-paid astroturfing sockpuppets, I’ll eat my hat.Lee’s hat is safe. The LJ sponsored community is full of posters spontaneously saying totally believable things like:
Win autographed Gondry stuff, cash, clothes, etceteraand
Threadless T-Shirts put together an awesome contest. Check it out:
I saw it two days ago and it changed my life forever…and
thank you Michael Gondrey… not only did you bring my dad and I closer, but you made me a different person
I am soooo looking forward to see this movie!!! I really liked the idea and I adore Gael Garcia Bernal! ;) So it changed your attitude? made you a different person? That makes me want seeing this movie even moreand
I’m going to watch this movie in a few hours, I’v been waiting for it to show near my house and it has finally arrived. I’m so excited!Then LJ reality reasserts itself. Here are the responses that followed directly after that last comment:
you made your journal a month ago and have 14 total journal entries, and now you’re in this community.
looks like a FAKE MARKETING SHILL to methat is truly pathetic. there is not even an effort to make it look real. give us a break. we’re not gonna fall for that
odd how every positive poster in this community has their entire journal friends only.And:
It throws into sharp relief the problem of sponsored communities, doesn’t it? Who is real? Who isn’t? I don’t know who this person is, but I do know that what she wrote is incredibly over the top, and isn’t something I would expect a real human being to say about any film short of Schindler’s List or something of equal weight. …And in classic LJ fashion:
Fifteen months is a sneeze in the movie business, so it is possible this person is a corporate troll. Whether she is or not, the fact that she posted her opinion here makes it suspect to me.
That’s why sponsored comms blow chunks. They create an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust.
Yup. Out of the moderators:And one other set of responses:
b1soux is almost definitely a sock puppet - “Date created: 2006-08-25.”
endlessfalling started 8-30-06.
f1ora started 8-25-06.
samoutlaw started 9-12-06.
Their only LJ friends are each other plus people involved with lj_biz. LOL!
And whoever made them actually went to the trouble of “friending” one or two token people with each, giving them indie-rock usericons, and writing two or three vague entries like “HAY HERE’S MY JOURNAL” and “HERE’S A DREAM POEM I FOUND.”
Or, you know, maybe 4 people decided around the same time to make four journals that are all essentially the same. Whatev, that sounds REALLY plausible.
i find it just a little suspicious that most commenters here have had ljs for a very short amount of time are in less than 5 communities, have very few entries, have myspace…Congratulations, thou astroturfing PR firm, thou! Your target audience now associates this movie with the least-cool aspects of MySpace.
maybe some of you are real, just plain old sad
but it is so very suspicious, like you were all created to comment here.i actually thought it looked interesting but there’s no way i’m watching this now. not paying anyhow.
the comm about a movie is almost, almost understandable.
but filling it with these posers who say ’ OMG THIS MOVIE IS SO GOOD IT CHANGED MY LIFE!”
and other such things.
not only is lame, it reminds of myspace.
The conversation at the site is gradually filling up with LJ regulars who are politely but firmly explaining that while they’d previously been planning to see the film, they’re now going to give it a miss. And they’ll encourage their friends to do the same. And they’ll do the same to anything else advertised on LJ in this dishonest fashion:
insomnia: And just to think, I was actually curious about seeing The Science of Sleep in a movie theatre before this unwanted ad sellout in LiveJournal. Now I’m going to have to give the movie a pass, simply for ethical reasons… and I will use my journal to encourage others to do the same.It grieves me to contradict these upstanding netizens, but I think it’s possible that this wasn’t LJ or Six Apart’s fault. They’re fairly straightforward about sponsored communities being paid-for commercial space. It’s not an inherently corrupt concept. I can imagine circumstances where such a site could be a force for good, and attract a real community of people who are honestly interested in whatever-it-is.
ilea: What part of my comment did you not understand? I won’t be seeing this movie nor will I be talking about it in a sponsored or unsponsored community because of what they have done.
The only buzz they’ll get from me is “..science of sleep? yeah that’s the movie that produced the first sponsored community on lj complete with sockpuppet journals. They started the ruin of LJ. I won’t pay money to see it ‘cause of their marketing practices….you shouldn’t either.”
elsabet: It’s sad cause this is actually a good movie. I saw it on opening night before I even heard about all this sponsored community crap. Huh.
swoozie: I WILL NEVER EVER SEE THIS MOVIE.
You are a sponsored community. It does not make me want to talk about you or go see this movie.
LJ crossed the line when they invited you.
Orb2069: Pity. Seemed a lot like Amelie in the previews. Wanted to see it, Wife didn’t, was going to rent it when it came out on DVD.
Not now. I actually just took it off my ‘To rent’ list, quite literally.
This lying/astroturfing/’Gorilla Marketing’ is not acceptable on LiveJournal. Go away.
missmurchison: I find it interesting that while most of the maintainers of this comm are clearly socks, I recognize many of those complaining as long-time LJ residents. If Six Apart were in politics, I’d say it’s eroding its base.
What I can really imagine is LJ management and Six Apart having no idea that the publicists for The Science of Sleep were going to pull such a boneheaded stunt. You know how it goes: if you hang around the net long enough, it starts seeming obvious to you that of course clumsy sockpuppetry will be detectable, undisguised message headers will tattle on the sender, and covert PR campaigns will yield to traffic analysis. You forget that there’s no mystic force that keeps fools from calling themselves media consultants.
Next thing you know, you’re watching, jaw dropped, as some person or organization you’d have sworn knows better is caught pulling some unbelievably stupid online stunt—a category to which the Science of Sleep campaign clearly belongs.
Meanwhile, courtesy of Miss Murchison’s own site, another potentially delicious story of astroturf gone astray: the task of providing fraudulent online support for Katherine Harris’ campaign may have been outsourced to India. It wasn’t just that the messages could be tracked back to India:
The comments sound stilted, as if English wasn’t the first language of the writer.Hoist, begad! The Party of Cheap Labor strikes again!
“Guys let us come out of this blue eye shadow,” one says. “Let us not discuss such irrelevant details.”