The Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association recently announced a new set of rules and guidelines for word-of-mouth advertising. The trade group maintains that marketers must make sure that people talking up products or services disclose for whom they are working. They also must use real consumers, not actors, who discuss what they really believe about a product. The rules were prompted by several controversial incidents such as a campaign the U.S. arm of Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications created for a camera phone. The company hired 60 actors to hang out at tourist attractions and ask unsuspecting passersby to take their pictures with the Sony Ericsson devices. The actors were told to identify themselves only when asked directly. What do you think about “stealth” campaigns like this? Should marketers be required to disclose their true intentions when they try to initiate positive word of mouth?
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