Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Undercover marketing: Breaking the rules of “relationship?”

You’re walking down the street when a tourist asks you if you wouldn’t mind taking his picture? Being the kind person you are, you agree. He hands you his hot new cell phone-digital camera. The tourist is so excited about his new gadget; he can’t stop raving about how cool it is. It’s hard for you not to agree.

However, what if you found out that the ‘tourist’ was really an actor hired by LG to hit the streets and interact with as many people as possible? Would you feel deceived? Or would you just accept it as another marketing tactic, not all that different from traditional advertising?

According to the marketing director and the brains behind this undercover campaign, “...it was an easy way to create a very non-evasive interesting conversation with somebody without the pressure of it feeling, like, a pitch.”

The idea behind these undercover marketing campaigns is to make a pitch within a situation where consumers don’t know they are being pitched...to disguise the identity of the brand representatives. What makes this form of marketing such a strong tool is the trust consumers place in the opinion of a peer. There is an inherent, implied lack of ulterior motive in an impromptu conversation where a stranger offers an opinion.

As advertising/marketing lines become more and more blurred, those that stand to be hurt the most are not the consumers, but the advertising community itself and the actual brand being advertised. The credibility of this community, and its employer, is brought into question when the unwritten rules that define the relationship between consumers and advertisers can no longer to be trusted. If consumers can no longer clearly draw the boundaries between a casual conversation and an advertising pitch, then how can advertisers think they can build a trusted brand when the very foundation of their strategy is flawed? Something to think about.

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