Tuesday, November 13

Is DISH Network using spam tactics?

While perusing the Internet for Saturday Night live clips from the most recent episode, I came across an article about Rihanna's performance. I always read the comments of articles, and I found this one to be particularly interesting. Read it below. http://www.fashionnstyle.com/articles/4005/20121111/rihanna-emotionally-debuts-stay-snl-chris-brown-video.htm

"I was really surprised by both the style and content of “Stay”, but whatever it’s meaning I do know it sounded beautiful.  The green screen performance of Diamonds was really unique and incredibly psychedelic.  I was talking to a coworker at DISH about the show, and she said that her performance last night was the best singing that she has ever seen live from Rihanna.  I am definitely saving those performances, and I love being able to save everything I want without worrying about storage space on my DISH Hopper’s giant hard drive.  I am really glad that I caught it because I am sure there is going to be quite a bit of talk around what those performances mean." -Sam Brown
Seriously Sam Brown? You had to talk about your Dish Hopper's "giant hard drive" and storage space?  Now this could of course be someone who just really loves their Dish Hopper, but I have my doubts. This seems far too specific to be a random person just evoking conversation about SNL. Most people would  not capitalize "DISH" (the official spelling) when typing it, brag about the space that their cable company-provided hardware includes and say they worry about the space on their DVR in a comment section. And perfect grammar? I can barely manage that on my own blog; forget about a post about Rihanna.

I then Googled the comment, and curiously found the exact same quote from a different person named Alex Cross on a Mashable article about the performance. He also posted a pro-Hopper comment in the same vein a week earlier. Come on. Next, I Googled smaller phrases from the comment and found a plethora of extremely specific, pro-Hopper related comments on all kinds of articles about SNL. They all talk about "my co-workers at DISH," inferring that this is a company-wide objective to insert specific buzzwords and phrases into articles. So sure, they are identifying themselves as employees and avoiding legal action from anti-spam laws, but this is still downright annoying that a major company has to resort to this cheap tactic. 

In the age of the web, there are so many ways for companies to insert themselves into the conversations occurring online. This is not one of them. People are not stupid, which is what Dish assumes. They think we won't recognize fancy corporate jargon amongst normal comments. Posts like these can be sniffed out a mile away by people who are used to spam, fake websites, fake emails and fake Twitter accounts. This is called astroturfing, where companies set up fake activism and awareness with the hope that it looks like a natural reaction from the public. A company as big as DISH Network should be far above this sort of stuff.

And what does that say about your product, Dish? That you have to tell employees to login and pretend to make natural comments to hype up your goods and services? Of course, there has been a lot of negative PR recently with the Big 10 and AMC disputes. But to combat this beatable problem and build some awareness for The Hopper, you make semi-fake comments on websites? Yikes.

The public has become very aware of advertising and marketing tactics lately,which makes goofy ideas like this stand out like a color TV in 1952. Using employees to post this information is easy to spot, annoying and seemingly desperate. There is so much creativity being used by companies on the world wide web, but this falls into the same realm as Romney and Obama robo-calls. Take me to your leader.

By Aaron Brandt, who is not employed by any cable company. On this planet, at least.