I was tempted to write something about this when I saw the original post on Penny Arcade, but since it seems to be on the verge of exploding into another of those great Internet controversies I thought I’d better get my two cents out there now. An article from The Consumerist is suggesting that Nvidia have been hiring people to ingratiate themselves into established online communities to then insert covert marketing messages that will come from a trusted source and therefore be accepted. Even if Nvidia aren’t doing it, it seems that some people definitely are.
Marketing types are known for their insidious thinking (from experience – I’m having to do a PR and Marketing unit for my degree) which makes me suspect that this has been going on for some time and has only recently become well-known. When people so easily block all online advertising and use their TiVo and Sky+ to avoid TV commercials they’re having to go for methods that can’t be avoided – you can’t selectively block forum posts when you don’t know who the advertiser is, after all. It just breeds mistrust, both of the companies that do this stuff and in the form of Thing-style paranoia where even those you least suspect could be corporate plants or evil shapeshifting aliens. Most likely both.
This might be really idealistic of me and never likely to happen, but I wish that marketing would be limited to making good products and creating good word of mouth about them. None of the cynicism of mainstream advertising and an actual incentive to make something great instead of relying on the marketing department to make it work. When I invent FTL travel and create my Star Trek-like socialist utopia marketing people will be the first ones pushed out of the airlock.
On an unrelated note, I’d like to say that I really enjoy Galaxy bars, made from only the smoothest, creamiest chocolate and tasting like chocolate never tasted before.