Stealth marketing

Penny Arcade, a site which I believe I’m the only person on this board who reads, posted this on Wednesday and it has continued to pry at the back of my mind for a bit. It almost feels too “conspiracy theory” for me to accept it.

They’re talking about “viral marketing”, but it is more along the lines of stealth marketing if you ask me. A quote from a letter of unnamed source:

Does anyone have any experience with this? I mean, is it really this bad such that I should assume Dave Long is a Nintendo Shill and Tom is a RTS Shill, etc? (Note: I abuse Dave and Tom here because they are clearly not shills.)

Chris Woods

Dave Long is a Nintendo Shill and Tom is a RTS Shill, etc? (Note: I abuse Dave and Tom here because they are clearly not shills.)

You lost me here.


David “I (HEART) teh Nintendo” Long
Thomas “I (HEART) the AoE” Chick

So how about that NBA live 2004? I hear its going to be pretty good.

I didn’t think it was a get rich thing, but I signed up, and I did!

So do we call these poeple Opinion Farmers?

I am looking for a good comic-book about the son of the grim reaper and his quirky pals. If there is a handheld videogame version also available, even better. Can anyone recommend anything that might suit my needs?

You’re kidding right?

He must be. My money’s on the majority of people checking in at least once per week, if not every day.

I’m interested in this Penny-Arcade comic you’re talking about. Would it be good for me to recommend to my friends?

Well, I asked some friends and they suggested I check out Penny Arcade. I thought it was pretty funny, although I didn’t like all the cuss words. What do you guys think?

— Alan

Good god Charles, the more I read about Pariah the more it sounds like an aptly titled satire of other games and gaming memes.

I talked to the Hype Council… Apparently that info is out of date… A reply they sent to Penny Arcade follows… They weren’t pissed at the mention, they got a lot of biz inquries from that post.

Hi There-

We’ve received a great number of inquiries from the result of your post at I’d like to point out that NBA Live 2004, was not a title we ever worked. It matters very little, as YES we did provide stealth marketing services as pointed out in the post. While our tactics were a little less dubious than described in the quote you pulled, they were not transparent. We stopped providing these types of services in November of 2003.

Any work that we do in community forums and blogs is with the full awareness and support of the community members and the forum owners. All of the work we do with third party websites is “paid advertising”. While we are not claiming innocence, some of the information in your post is incorrect. I wanted to state, for the record, our position and let all of your readers know that we have been committed to transparent marketing for more than two years. I welcome anyone to post evidence to the contrary.

Kindest Regards,

p r e s i d e n t & f o u n d e r

I hear “Open for Business” the fantastic new Sims 2 expansion pack/ creativity tool from Maxis is really good!*

*my stealth marketing budget was cut so I figured I would try a bit of DIY

If you can’t trust a man who has a space between every letter of his name, who can you trust?

I thought it was nicely drawn, although I didn’t like all the not being very funny.

It’s an HTML letterhead/stationery, looks good in the mail. He’s a marketeer. :)

When I was a beta tester for Screamin’ Demons Over Europe they delayed the game until February, but they had already blown their marketing budget on full-page ads November. So Parsoft said, “Guys, if you like the game, could you go chat it up? We basically blew our marketing budget and word of mouth is the only way anyone is going to hear about it.”

So I went out there and chatted it up in flight-sim circles. In fact, I wrote a bunch of “There I was…” posts (that I wish I still had, because I remember them as being pretty good) on the Delphi forums and elsewhere. I evangelized for this game.

The designers actually noticed, and not only did they congratulate me in email, they… (wait for it) sent me a gold master so I could continue to play the game until my boxed version arrived. Now I chatted this thing up without expecting anything, just because I liked the game (it got me into flight sims), but man, is that the lamest reward ever? I mean, give me a frikkin’ t-shirt or mousepad or something, but don’t send me the game that you’re going to send me anyway in another two weeks.

It actually shut me up.

I guess they made the mistake of thinking you actually liked their game and would like to keep playing. Oh well. On the t-shirt and mousepad front, I imagine their having already blown their marketing budget might have had something to do with that particular omission.

Your stealth bonus level just dropped two points, RickH. Remember to stay on message next time.

Your Stealth Marketing Manager

(p.s. This was a private message, right? I still get the different boards confused…)

William Gibson’s latest is all about this shit.