January 19, 2018

I don’t accept Edelman’s apology for the bogus Wal-Mart Blog…

I’m still amazed at this situation. Edelman PR, one of the premier public relations agencies in the world and a company that not only hired sharp blogger Steve Rubel but prides itself on really understanding the new world of Web 2.0 and the blogosphere, screwed up royally, and no-one seems to be particularly upset.

The situation: They created the Walmarting Across America blog which pretended to be a couple of middle aged RV enthusiasts driving from Wal-Mart to Wal-Mart and blogging about their experiences, mostly with how wonderful Wal-Mart was. No surprise, the blog effort was a campaign paid for by Wal-Mart!

When it came out that it was a fake blog and that Edelman was being duplicitous and tricking people, it also became obvious that they’d violated the very code of Word of Mouth Marketing ethics they’d helped create.

The response of the blogosphere? Oh, Richard Edelman apologized, and Steve Rubel said he had nothing to do with the account or the campaign. And all is well. Or is it?

If you want to have an example of the class structure within the blogosphere, go and read how top bloggers like Debbie Weil, Neville Hobson and Robert Scoble are not just accepting Edelman’s apology, but being apologists for the company themselves. What the heck?

I don’t agree. I think that there’s a much bigger issue of ethical consistency, of leadership and of hypocrisy, and I write about it at length on my main blog: Edelman screws up with Duplicitous Wal-Mart Blog, but it’s okay?

6 comments for I don’t accept Edelman’s apology for the bogus Wal-Mart Blog…

  1. […] UPDATE: Gary Short agrees. Dave Taylor at Business Blog Consulting doesn’t accept Edelmans “apology”. […]

    Pingback by The Writing On The Wal » Blog Archive » Edelman Apologizes? — October 17, 2006 @ 7:58 am

  2. While I think that the issue itself is sort of a ‘tempest in a teapot’, you bring up a good point concerning the bruling class (blog ruling class).

    Of course they’re tolerant of the misstep…it’s companies like this one that will pay their consulting fees as they buy into the technology.

    There is nothing new going on here, including the pretense,


    Comment by Mark Woodward — October 17, 2006 @ 10:18 am

  3. I thought Scoble – did just that. Say apology was good enough.

    Comment by Kevin OKeefe — October 17, 2006 @ 1:28 pm

  4. […] Particularmente acho que envolver blogueiros tem tudo haver com campanhas de marketing que necessitam de se espalhar neste nosso mundo de cauda longa. Mas pagar para blogueiros escrever sobre sua empresa, manipular posts para alavancar audiência (essa história do Wal-Mart é ótima), associar-se ao PayperPost para vender sua alma, podem ser ações não muito bacanas, e que prejudicam a verdadeira essência do blog. […]

    Pingback by Blog do livro Blog Corporativo » Blog Archive » Envolver blogueiros em campanhas tem limite? — October 18, 2006 @ 8:41 pm

  5. Well said Dave,

    The tone of a group is always set up the top. And like Caesar’s wife, the executives of a group like WOMMA have to be above reproach.

    When one of the perceived ‘best’ makes a mistake like this, and violates the basic rules of blogging, it’s a big blunder.

    And there are indeed aspects that don’t ring true. Why would Rubel not be involved in a blog project for such a big client? who was involved? Who will take the heat?

    As my old Dad used to say – I smell a rat as big as an elephant.

    But bloggers are a strange bunch: while we will skewer you if you’re not honest and open, we are quite forgiving once you admit you screwed up.

    It will be interesting to see how they handle it going forward. One comment that does ring true – their staff definitely needs more PR 2.0 training.

    As a traditonal PR stunt this would be a great idea. And everyone would know the client and the PR agency were behind it. But in the blogging world it doesn’t fly. And PR agencies need to learn the differnce.

    Comment by Sally Falkow — October 20, 2006 @ 9:47 am

  6. Dave,

    Me thinks you protest too much. I did *not* apologize for Edelman’s Wal-Mart flog. I did suggest that Edelman must have gotten some wires crossed between their account execs and their client, Wal-Mart. And I specifically made the point that Edelman’s “silence” (their non-response for five days or longer) was their biggest mistake. I am not in Edelman’s employ nor do I expect to be. Frankly they don’t need me, or you or anyone else who writes for this blog!

    Comment by Debbie Weil — October 27, 2006 @ 8:09 am

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