The term “astroturf” is used to designate fake “grass-roots” word-of mouth, graffitti, and blog efforts supposedly coming from actual users when in fact they really came from a paid marketing effort. Once upon a time Sony’s stuff was so cool they didn’t need to fake user enthusiasm. It’s sad to see them scramble and lie instead of making something worth creating a buzz over.

Another fake blog scandal is roiling the blogosphere.

This one–the latest in a string of stealth marketing efforts–involves a “flog,” or fake blog, created by viral marketing firm Zipatoni to promote the Sony PSP. The blog,, was supposedly authored by an amateur hip-hop artist “Charlie”–whose cousin, “Pete,” craved a PSP under the tree.

Written in faux hip-hop and Internet lingo, the phony blog, which went live at the end of last month, quickly raised suspicions. Last week, some readers conducted a WHOIS search, which unmasked the site’s registrars as Zipatoni.

Sony Wednesday released a statement acknowledging that the blog was phony. “Sony Computer Entertainment America developed as a humorous site targeting those interested in getting a PSP system this holiday season,” it read. “We’ve now added a posting that provides this clarification to consumers visiting the site.” The company did not comment further.

Doesn’t Sony realize that their target market is too saavy for this kind of crap to work? All this does is hurt them in the long run.

  1. Improbus says:

    Sony has more than proved it is run by morons. Shall I count the flops and scandals?

  2. Named says:

    Sometimes the best thing for a company is to fall hard and fast. Apple did, and they restructured and came out swinging.

  3. Grrr says:

    They’re reduced to reeling in the low-hanging fruit – consumers who can’t be bothered to read the news about this conglomerate that’s come to light over the past 18-24 months…

  4. Drew says:

    This shows how lazy marketers are in some companies. They have a lot of fun making up this site, you can tell. Even if it hadn’t been busted, would it have made any difference?

  5. Greymoon says:


  6. curmudgen says:

    Busted. Nailed. Snagged. As many of you have figured out (maybe our speech was a little too funky fresh???), Peter isn’t a real hip-hop maven and this site was actually developed by Sony. Guess we were trying to be just a little too clever. From this point forward, we will just stick to making cool products, and use this site to give you nothing but the facts on the PSP.

    Sony Computer Entertainment America

    Is Seppuku the next step ???

  7. eggfou says:

    This whole thing might not be so bad if the site and accompanying video weren’t so AWFUL. The video is almost painful to watch. A much better example of good viral marketing is the “Will it Blend” videos. At least we KNOW they are an advertisement from the company, but they are also infinitely more interesting. Time for a PSP edition of “Will It Blend”

  8. Kent Goldings says:

    Dude! If you can’t trust a blog…?

  9. Mr. Fusion says:

    I assume this is similar to spam. If 1/10 of 1% who get the spam open it and read it it’s a success. If 1/10 of those people buy something, it’s a flaming success. With a web site like this, it might end up being closer to 1% that buy. If 10,000 visit the site, and 1% actually buy one, that is still 100 sets sold. And 100 fewer X Bricks.

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