I am sort of fascinated by the world of undercover marketing or stealth marketing (it’s even called secret marketing or hidden marketing).
This is where you really don’t know or understand that you are being targeted for a marketing campaign.
When you look at a poster with the traditional advertisement (the beautiful woman next to the nice red shiny car), you know that they are trying to pursuade you into buying the product. You just know that that’s what they are trying to do.
But what happens when some tourists comes up to you and asks you to take a picture of them and they hand you a brand new mobile phone with a 12 Megapixel camera, and it’s actually the coolest mobile phone you have ever seen?
My guess is that you take the picture and you look at the mobile phone, and you might ask them about the mobile phone, and then you just can’t stop thinking about the mobile phone.
What happens next is that you ask a few friends of yours if they have seen the latest mobile phone from Nokia, and when they say that they haven’t, you do a search on the Internet and then you find it.
You tell your friends that you found it, and they look at it, they might tell other people about it and so on.
That’s interesting, because it was really fake tourists that approached you, and their whole goal was for you (being perfect for their campaign because you are a young male) to become fascinated by the new mobile phone from Nokia. And they wanted you to spread the word.
But you didn’t know that.
My point is; it might be very effective marketing, but marketers should never lie or deceive, and I believe that stealth marketing is just like deception. They are not lying, they are just not telling the whole story.
It seems that 60 minutes had a very interesting report on this a while ago, I wish I had seen it. You can read the story and several examples of undercover/stealth marketing at CBS News.
Trust me, you should read the whole article.