The Latest Entrant In 'How Not To Do Marketing' In An Online World: Ocean Marketing Fail

from the easy-to-boil-this-ocean dept

One of the key points that we've been making for years is that, in an online world, pissing off (or simply not caring about) customers is no longer a viable business strategy. A good business today recognizes that the customers' best interests are also the company's best interests. If you don't realize that... well, then you get into a situation like Paul Christoforo and Ocean Marketing that's taken the internet world by storm today. It begins with a must read email thread posted at Penny Arcade. Seriously, just go read the whole thing.

The short version for those who don't read it, is that a guy, Dave, who pre-ordered some gaming controllers that hadn't arrived, emailed Ocean Marketing and got back less than optimal customer service from Christoforo, who runs Ocean Marketing. Actually, he got back obnoxious customer service. Beyond not being helpful Christoforo is outright insulting of the customer (who has already paid for the item not yet delivered) and bragging about how "connected" he is. In response, the customer (Dave) wrote back explaining why this was totally unacceptable, and cc'd some various gaming websites/blogs. Gabe (aka Mike Krahulik) from PA chimed in, especially when he saw Christorofo brush off Dave by mentioning PA's own event PAX East. After replying to both that Christoforo won't be allowed to exhibit at PAX, Christoforo (apparently not realizing who he was dealing with) simply makes a bad situation worse:
Weíre not renting a booth at pax east this year , bigger and better shows to be at we got nothing from the show . Oh so you know this guy has sold over 500 thousand dollars of product in Dec and is my main distribution arm landing us in GameStop , fryís , Myers , Best buy , Activision , MLG , play N trade and a lot more . Were in 6 countries and youíre not going to take my money for a booth thatís a crock I can guarantee Iíll get a booth if I want one money buys a lot and connections go even further. Heís a native Bostonian from Little Italy . Who are you again ?
Amazingly, this actually comes after Dave had told Mike "Please donít cancel their booth on my account. As much as I hate this asshole, I still WANT his product and think it should be out there." Mike explains to Christoforo that he runs PAX, but Christoforo still doesn't get it:
OK Mike whatever you say lol , are you sure hour not in Boston I spoke to the person who ran the show in Boston last year. If you let some little kid influence you over a pre order then we donít want to be a your show ,Ill be on the floor anyway so come find me , Iím born and raised in Boston I know the people who run the city inside and out watch the way you talk to people you never know who they know itís a small industry and everyone knows everyone. Your acting like a douchbag not that it matters pax east pax west , e3 , CES , Gamer Con , SSXW ,Comic Con, Germany Iím all over the place. If we want to be there we will be there with industry badges or with a booth you think I canít team up with turtle beach , Callibur or Koy Christmas , I canít get Kevin Kelly to pull some strings or G4 , Paul Eibler Ex CEO of take 2 , Rich Larocco Konami , Cliff Blizinski Epic who were working with on a gears version , Activision who were working with on a MW3 and Spider man Bundle , The Convention Center Owners themselves , Mayor of Boston come on Bud you run a show thatís all you do and lease a center in Cities you have no pull in its all about who you know not what you do. Iíll see space where ever I want , with who I want when I want and where I want so many ways around you and so many connections in this industry its silly. Anyway , I have no issue with you Sean Buckley Engadget, Scott Lowe IGN and the list goes on and on. Little kids unhappy with a PRE ORDER starting trouble and you email that to us , heís a customer unless youíre his boyfriend then you should side with the company not the customer. Be Careful
And it gets worse from there. Of course, once Gabe posted it to Penny Arcade, it started to get picked up elsewhere including (of course) Reddit, and from there it just began exploding. Popehat has a bunch of links including the fact that Christoforo went ballistic on Scott Lowe from IGN, after Lowe told Christoforo to stop saying IGN supported him. Christoforo responded on Tiwtter calling him a "douchebag" and suggesting that because he sent IGN review units he should support him. That tweet has since been removed, but the screenshot lives on.

Separately, people have turned up more examples of poor customer service experiences involving Ocean Marketing and Christoforo, as well as claims that Ocean Marketing has been plagiarizing a ton of articles from around the web on its own blog. Andrew Galbraith from Examiner.com has the details:
It seems the plot has thickened a bit further. Apparently, as pointed out by @williambgoss on twitter, Ocean Marketing has been lifting articles from across the web for their blog with little to no attribution of sources whatsoever. An article published on Forbes is clearly posted wholesale on the Ocean Marketing blog with no sourcing roughly two weeks after initially hitting the web. Moreover, the same is done with a BizReport article, appearing as Ocean Marketing's "original work" no less than two days later.  
The story has been getting picked up in a ton of places, but you have to wonder why anyone would hire Christoforo to market any of their products ever again. The Popehat link above notes that when you outsource your marketing, you're outsourcing your reputation. And that can be dangerous...

In the meantime, it appears that Christoforo, beyond digging himself a deeper hole, has also tried to well, dig himself a deeper hole. He first threatened to have his "lawyers" contact Penny Arcade, followed up by some begging:
"You have the power Mike Please make it stop"
Of course, as Gabe/Mike points out, he really doesn't have the power. Once these things are out there, they're out there. Then comes the non-apology apology, where Christoforo apologies for not knowing how big Penny Arcade/PAX are and for getting exposed -- but not for his actual actions:
I just wanted to apologize for the way our emails progressed I didnít know how big your site was and I really didnít believe you ran Pax , So for whatís its worth I am very sorry. Your post has obviously made my life very difficult and I have not slept yet dealing with all the spam and personal information intrusion as well as my family being smeared on the internet.
That's not a real apology at all. That's someone digging even deeper.

Update: Ah, and now reports of pretending to be someone else. Kotaku apparently reached out to Bruce Brandon Leidel, who had been their contact in the past on the controller in question, and they noticed something odd in the response -- which suggested that it actually came from Christoforo. Then Leidel apparently reached out to Kotaku separately saying that he no longer works with that client, in part because of Christoforo...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Rikuo (profile), Dec 27th, 2011 @ 4:29pm

    "I just wanted to apologize for the way our emails progressed I didnít know how big your site was and I really didnít believe you ran Pax , So for whatís its worth I am very sorry."

    Exactly. The guy isn't sorry. He's not apologizing for the non-delivery, keeping the customer's money, keeping the customer in the dark or about calling the customer every horrible name under the sun (even while in the SAME EMAIL saying "We value our customers"). No, the two things he's sorry about are...he didn't realize how big a site Penny Arcade is, and that Mike Krahulik also runs PAX.

     

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  2.  
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    Ken, Dec 27th, 2011 @ 4:30pm

    "Sorry, I didn't know your site was so big" is just a way of saying "wink wink, it's ok to abuse powerless people, terribly sorry for mistaking you for one, old chap." It's a douchebag's non-apology apology.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2011 @ 4:30pm

    Identity theft, too!

    Christoforo tried to do some damage control over at Kotaku by impersonating an actual games marketing exec. Kotaku checked with the exec in question (Brandon Liedl) who quickly pointed out that he did not contact Kotaku, and that his company severed ties with Christoforo's company in part because he "is a street thug masquerading as a self proclaimed 'Marketing Professional.'

    http://kotaku.com/5871400/cut-paul-oceanmarketting-christoforo-a-breakhe-probably- just-has-roid-rage

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2011 @ 4:34pm

    familiar writing style.

    Ocean Marketing needs to learn how to use spell check. Their entire set of emails look like spam

     

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  5.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 27th, 2011 @ 4:34pm

    Re: Identity theft, too!

    They are unsure if the roid profile is his... but the username matches his MySpace userid.

    Ah the entertainment....

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2011 @ 4:37pm

    Re: Re: Identity theft, too!

    Yeah, that's why I didn't mention that part of the article. And frankly, I could care less about his steroid use. It's a serious stretch to assume it has anything to do with his deranged behavior.

    Although it seems likely the roid profile is his. Someone found a post from four years ago that used his email address, myspace name, age, height, etc.

     

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  7.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 27th, 2011 @ 4:38pm

    Re:

    He thought it was just someone pretending to be important on the internet....
    he knows because its how he rolls.

    He posted a self proclaimed "viral video" trying to get his real estate agent to pay for soundproofing the windows on his residence because *gasp* he could hear the traffic. (Note to self when buy a new home make sure no roads will sudden appear overnight.) In the description he lists all of his connections and how powerful he is to try and intimidate them into giving him his way. Over on reddit, someone did some digging and he isn't part of many of the things hes claimed *SHOCK*

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2011 @ 4:46pm

    You got it wrong Mike

    Its Ocean Marketting

     

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  9.  
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    Frankz (profile), Dec 27th, 2011 @ 5:01pm

    He keeps digging himself deeper and deeper, and all the while he's dragging the actual controller company he's supposed to be repping down with him.
    Has anyone tried to contact them? Who was it, N-Control? To see if they might decide to finally do some of their own damage control.

     

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  10.  
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    khory (profile), Dec 27th, 2011 @ 5:08pm

    Re:

    It looks like they already have. I saw a link on twitter just a bit ago that has an email from the company stating the Ocean Marketing is no longer representing them.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2011 @ 5:09pm

    http://i.imgur.com/axYAm.png

    Yup, they're toast.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2011 @ 5:13pm

    Re: Re:

    IIRC, N-Control isn't based in the US, so they might have been slow to respond because nobody was at work when this story broke.

     

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  13.  
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    Boojum, Dec 27th, 2011 @ 5:14pm

    Anyone notice that http://avengercontroller.co takes you to an unbuilt Godaddy webpage? It looks like they are scrambling to get a new point of contact for people.

    Boojum the brown bunny

     

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  14.  
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    Boojum, Dec 27th, 2011 @ 5:16pm

    Nevermind

    Nevermind, I went to the wrong website. *laugh*

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2011 @ 5:52pm

    Small correction:

    It's actually "Brandon Leidel," not "Bruce Leidel."

    I misspelled his name here in the comments already, so I guess I'm not any better.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2011 @ 5:55pm

    Yet another odd tidbit

    I was poking around on Ocean Marketing's website (http://www.oceanmarketinginc.com/Contact-Us.php) and I took a look at their site copyright section.

    Look where it goes when you click on the copyright notice on the bottom of the page!

    http://twitter.com/2010

    Oh delicious! So delicious! OM-NOM-NOM-NOM-NOM

     

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  17.  
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    Mel (profile), Dec 27th, 2011 @ 6:01pm

    Oh, maybe someone can copy his tweet stream .... cause as of right now, he's gone off the proverbial deep end!!

    And he's threatening retribution from Nigerians ...

    "yeah keep shitting on me kids, remember I have your CC info from orders. Let's see how tough you are after some nigerians get em."


    https://twitter.com/#!/oceanstretagy/status/151810591013617664

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2011 @ 6:02pm

    Re:

    That's a fake twitter account. Don't feel bad, tons of people in other comment sections have fallen for the troll account.

     

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  19.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Dec 27th, 2011 @ 6:17pm

    This.

     

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  20.  
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    Mel (profile), Dec 27th, 2011 @ 6:37pm

    Beyond feeling the need to bleach my eyes, based upon scanning his new twitter account, it appears that he is ...

    Anti-semitic
    Homophobic
    Both ruined and loaded with money (so it'll be OK)
    Very fluent with the naughty words
    Not so much with the professional words
    Most definitely 38
    Doesn't have a degree but is "naturally smart"
    A terrible speller
    Hates red haired people (that's a new one)
    Thinks he's going to sue a whole bunch of people
    Doesn't think "the internet" can be used in court
    Insists he treats gamers the same way all the game companies do
    Is in internet marketing but has no idea what Reddit is
    Determined to create an offensive response to every single tweet he gets tonight, which is, I think, all of them
    A terrible speller (so bad I listed it twice)
    Was arrested on domestic violence (shock) and has tweeted "that bitch had it coming ok." (uhm no, not ok)

    And ... is apparently going for the Douche Hall of Fame

    Again, my simple opinion based upon reading his tweets

    Oh, and he blames everything on everybody else ...

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2011 @ 6:43pm

    Slashdot commenter posts useful info. News you can use.

    Here's a comment hijacked straight from slashdot, 'cause it's useful information, worth reposting:
    by Animats (122034) writes: on Tuesday December 27, @07:07PM (#38509248)

    The Federal Trade Commission's Mail Order Rule [ftc.gov] applies here. It's real simple:

    1. Mail orders must ship within 30 days unless there was an explicit delivery date specified. If the seller knows there will be a delay in shipping, they must contact the customer and offer the customer a full refund or the option to wait another 30 days, at the customer's choice.

    2. After 60 days, the seller must provide a full refund unless the customer explicitly consents in writing to a further delay. If the customer takes no action, the refund must be sent.

    Staples paid a big fine for this. [directmag.com] So did the Beanie Baby [dmnews.com] people. In the early days of the Internet, a lot of companies were hit by this, because they had web sites accepting orders at high speed, but the back end fulfillment operation was manual and couldn't keep up.


    Now that FTC mail order rule is something worth knowing.

     

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  22.  
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    travis penner, Dec 27th, 2011 @ 6:44pm

    ouch

    I think this is where pwned says it all.

     

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  23.  
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    Loki, Dec 27th, 2011 @ 7:28pm

    Re:

    This guy seems to understand very little about the community he is pissing off.

    He may not be sorry yet, but he will be.

     

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  24.  
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    Mel (profile), Dec 27th, 2011 @ 7:54pm

    Re: Yes, it was a fake twitter account

    No way to delete my previous comment, so I just have to confirm what another said earlier ....

    The one twitter account OceanStretagy was a fake. So that list I made doesn't apply (well, I'm guessing some still does)

    Got hand it to the fake though ... had Paul's douchiness down pat!

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 27th, 2011 @ 8:08pm

    I would love to be a 'fly-on-the-wall' when he explains this to his wife.

    I'll bet he makes it sound like he was helping Christ off the cross, then the Romans came and dragged him away.

     

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  26.  
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    Mel (profile), Dec 27th, 2011 @ 8:46pm

    On the other hand, GoDaddy is thankful for Paul Christoforo (for a little bit anyway).

     

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  27.  
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    remixedcat (profile), Dec 27th, 2011 @ 9:09pm

    http://i.imgur.com/MhF3L.jpg

    they are hosted with godaddy!

     

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  28.  
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    enjaysee (profile), Dec 27th, 2011 @ 9:22pm

    My favorite part was when he took a shot at Penny Arcade:

    "[snip]...Your sites amateur at best my son could put together a better site than yours and you run PAX ?? Wow , Ill put my marketing team on a smear campaign of you and your site and your emails , I have about 125 dedicated people to run PR , Blogs , Articles , Videos you have no clue who I am . Thanks again"

    Assuming what he says about 125 employees is true, I think they're now all out of work.

     

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  29.  
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    enjaysee (profile), Dec 27th, 2011 @ 9:36pm

    Re:

    Seems like the whole thing has run its course with the expected conclusion:

    http://www.kotaku.com.au/2011/12/pr-trolling-ocean-stratagy-out-of-business-avenger-c ontroller-maker-asks-for-forgiveness/

    The unfortunate side effect of this is that now the Avenger Controller is paying for Christoforo's poor customer relationship skills. This is a big lesson in double checking who you hire to represent your company.

     

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  30.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Dec 27th, 2011 @ 9:37pm

    Nitpicking

    The only issue I have with this whole situation (and believe me, this is the ONLY issue -- everything else I'm on board with) is Gabe's response to the rogue PR's request that he "make it stop:"

    "The reality is that once I had posted the emails I didnít have the power anymore. The Internet had it now and nothing I said or did was going to change that."

    Everything he says is true, BUT... he posted the email addresses. Claiming that it's out of his hands (and implicitly NOT HIS FAULT what happens now) is like handing a bunch of firebugs some gasoline and strike-anywhere matches and claiming you're powerless to prevent the ensuing Devil's Night reenactment.

    Those email addresses would have been dug up via the internet by enterprising individuals sooner or later. It seems a bit smug to revel in the very destruction you laid the groundwork for.

    Other than that, I am all for exposure of hideous customer service/PR entities. This is precisely why anyone in these fields, in this day and age, should be doing everything they can to take care of their paying customers. You sure as hell don't want the loosely confederated wrath of the internet turned against you.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 1:38am

    Re: Nitpicking

    "You sure as hell don't want the loosely confederated wrath of the internet turned against you."

    Also known as an Internet Counterattack (warning: TVTropes link, can be very addicting).

     

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  32.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Dec 28th, 2011 @ 4:05am

    Re: familiar writing style.

    You mean, Ocean Marketting, nťe Ocean Stratagy?

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 4:55am

    This is the first time something funny has been posted on Penny Arcade.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 5:53am

    "watch the way you talk to people you never know who they know itís a small industry and everyone knows everyone."

    Lost. It.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 5:58am

    Re: Nitpicking

    I don't think he was implicitly claiming it was not his fault at all, quite the opposite it fact. What he was saying is that what happened already happened. He knows he started it, starting it was his goal:
    "I will personally burn everything Iíve made to the fucking ground if I think I can catch [bullies] in the flames."

     

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  36.  
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    techinabox (profile), Dec 28th, 2011 @ 6:04am

    Re: Nitpicking

    It was a publicly available email address of customer service/PR rep. It's not like Gabe posted his personal non-work address.

     

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  37.  
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    Philip (profile), Dec 28th, 2011 @ 6:39am

    His apology to Dave.

    You should check out his apology to Dave. It's all "oh, whoo is me. I'm the victim." bs:

    http://gamerfront.net/2011/12/ocean-marketing-a-study-on-how-to-destroy-your-reputation-with- just-a-few-emails/15199

    Article was updated with it.

    Yet, again, digging further. Paul ruined his own company, and he doesn't even realize it!

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 6:44am

    Re: His apology to Dave.



    ďYou just got told bitch Ö welcome to the real internetĒ

    Memetic.

     

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  39.  
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    Ben (profile), Dec 28th, 2011 @ 6:46am

    New opportunity

    Maybe this guy should get a job promoting SOPA?

     

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  40.  
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    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Dec 28th, 2011 @ 7:40am

    Re: His apology to Dave.

    He's a douchebag of galactic proportions.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 7:45am

    Ignoring the behavior, his grammar and spelling is a crime unto itself!

    srsly id would be impossble for me to get a job if i wrote like this1

     

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  42.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Dec 28th, 2011 @ 7:53am

    Re: Identity theft, too!

    impersonating an actual games marketing exec

    My question is isn't this illegal? While me may not have technically 'hacked' to send the impersonation email, it certainly wasn't with permission which is about all the Fed's care about when prosecuting these things...

     

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  43.  
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    Trails (profile), Dec 28th, 2011 @ 8:30am

    Re: Re: His apology to Dave.

    Son, I'm 38 years old, and wither this wwebsite memetic before you were sperm in your daddys balls. I DEAD SERIOUS!!

     

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  44.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Dec 28th, 2011 @ 8:38am

    Re:

    strAtagy, not strEtagy.

     

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  45.  
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    Pete "the Pirate" Prenowski - Yarr, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 8:45am

    Re:

    ZOMG! wAht elegents!1 UR hierd!.

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 9:32am

    Re: Re: Identity theft, too!

    I'm not sure of the legality of it, but my guess is that it would be a civil issue rather than a criminal one.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 9:35am

    Re:

    You sir, are a cad!

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 9:38am

    Re: Nitpicking

    Also, Gabe didn't post the email and say, "Hey everybody, let's be a dick to this guy and ruin his business!" He just posted what Christoforo said, then posted the guy's email address at the bottom. Also, Christoforo was the one making threats.

    Gabe didn't do anything to Christoforo. It's like when you get fired for a good reason. The boss didn't fire you, you fired you.

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 11:06am

    Re: Re:

    I hhired as on imeadeatly.

     

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  50.  
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    Yasir Sami, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 11:09am

    Why is Internet Marketing Important to any online Business ?

    The most anxious reason why online businesses should think using the internet as a marketing medium is because it is here to continue . In the next couple of years , billions more will plugged in to the internet , it will suit an even bigger tool and many more people will search and find what they want online .
    http://www.businessconcernonline.com/blog/why-is-internet-marketing-important-to-any-online-busin ess/

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 11:42am

    Re: Re:

    I saw what you did there.

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 1:11pm

    Re: Re: Nitpicking

    Yeah, not going there again, or I'm stuck there for hours to come...

     

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  53.  
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    DogBreath, Dec 28th, 2011 @ 2:53pm

    Gotta love the "Streisand Effect" of bad publicity this guy is just now learning...

     

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  54.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Dec 28th, 2011 @ 7:09pm

    Re: Why is Internet Marketing Important to any online Business ?

    Spammity spammity spammity....
    but one part is useful...
    "it will suit an even bigger tool"

    I've not seen bigger tools than this one outside of elected offices.... *rimshot*

     

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  55.  
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    PaulT (profile), Dec 29th, 2011 @ 1:48am

    Re: Re:

    No he won't. He'll probably whine like the ACs here when talking about GoDaddy and claim that his free speech rights are being violated or some such rubbish. He doesn't seem like the sort of person to actually realise that he's suffering the consequences of his own actions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    identicon
    Nate, Jan 3rd, 2012 @ 2:36pm

    Plagerism

    It would seem that Ocean Marketing has removed the plagerised articles you mentioned. Not replaced with an apology, just removed.

    Interesting.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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