Ever Wonder How These Astroturf 'Coalitions' Are Formed?

from the lobbyists-and-shills-and-pr,-oh-my! dept

By now we’ve all seen the various fake “astroturf” PR/lobbying efforts out there, talking up some particular position, which is almost always created and funded by a company that benefits from having the public (or, more often, politicians) support that position. Most people recognize that they’re just false fronts, but the details are often hidden. However, in at least one case, the details have been leaking out. Microsoft, who isn’t in much of a position to call “antitrust” violations on others, is trying to stop Google from being able to acquire DoubleClick. In order to get support in blocking the deal, Microsoft apparently had a big PR firm try to put together one of these fake “coalitions” using the name “Initiative for Competitive Online Marketplaces” (gotta love the names of all of these coalitions), which appears to be designed solely to release reports critical of Google practices. The problem, though, is that the email the PR firm used to “recruit” members to join this group has leaked out and is getting press attention. Again, there’s nothing particularly new in all of this. There are countless such organizations, but it’s rare to get the details on how one was brought together. In this case, the email being sent to potential participants urges them to complain about Google’s practices to politicians, regulators and the media. Even though Microsoft put the group together, apparently the PR firm did not reveal that. This won’t change much, of course, and we can probably still expect to see reports coming out from the “Initiative for Competitive Online Marketplaces,” but it would be nice to see the press act at least a little skeptical of any conclusions drawn from those reports.

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Comments on “Ever Wonder How These Astroturf 'Coalitions' Are Formed?”

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CharlieHorse says:


Dinkeldein !

okay, so I’m in a VERY immature mood today … ;-P

besides, I’m forming my own coalition. so I don’t wanna join no stinkin’ “initiative for Competitive Blah Blah Blah”

MY coalition will be called the Coalition for Hampsters, Easter Eggs, Spam, and Ernest aka C.H.E.E.S.E.

Ernest is my friend. He has a hamster who likes to eat spam. (No kidding!) I think they are underrepresented in the marketplace of ideas and so we will be releasing several press releases over the next few weeks to garner attention to the plight of hamsters who like to eat spam.

I have no idea what Easter Eggs have to do with anything.

thank you.

David Binkowski (user link) says:

PR firms needs to be held accountable too

Mike, I was really hoping you’d out the PR firm behind it. You and I talked, and you know I’m fighting the good fight and taking companies on the high road of transparency, ethics and honesty. I know most people hate PR firms but there are people on the inside showing the light — these types of tactics are unethical and need to be exposed. The consumer revolution will take full hold when we start boycotting the brands of the firms representing this kind of dishonesty.

BTW, not all coalitions are bad – in some cases it’s a matter of shared resources vs. a multi-billion dollar company or industry.

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