Some of the more talked-about viral marketing stunts of late -- including those by Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Ignited Minds, even PR firm Cohn & Wolfe -- are more properly termed stealth or undercover marketing. The idea is to market to the consumer without the consumer knowing it. Everything's a big secret until the self-satisfied ad firm is ready to let the Cheshire Cat out of the bag.
Most folks seem OK with the tactic, to a point. As long as there's a laugh to be had, where's the harm, right?
...McKinney has cooked up a viral marketing campaign promoting Pherotones, ring tones that, apparently, cause sexual attraction. While the site is obviously a joke, a little snooping around reveals it's a marketing ploy. From a fake Wikipedia listing that's been labeled suspect to fake interviews with Boing Boing to suspicious Whois info to all sort of IP address foolery, clearly, McKinney is up to no good.
We're sure they're all huddled around their computer today laughing at all of us writing about their cute little effort waiting patiently for the right moment to reveal the the client behind this ploy. While you're all reading this you sneaky little McKinney truth-benders, remember, people don't like liars...
When people stop calling it "marketing" and start calling it "lying," you've probably made a mistake, gang.
And dissing Web denizens everywhere by messing around with Wikipedia and the guys at Boing Boing? Even bigger mistake.
Oh, by the way: the Pherotones blog is here. Feel free to leave a comment, everybody.