North Face demonstrated some serious hubris recently when they hired an ad agency to questionably get their gear all over the front page of Google search results, then shared a video outlining how they did it.
You may or may not know that when you see images next to popular search results, they are often being pulled directly from Wikipedia’s page on the subject. North Face hired ad agency Leo Burnett Tailor Made to run a campaign that involved flying models to popular tourist locations and staging them in breathtaking photos wearing North Face clothes.
After gathering the images, the agency worked on quietly inserting the staged photos onto the chosen adventure destinations’ Wikipedia pages without inviting the suspicion of the very active moderators. It appears that even though they knew they should be sneaky while they performed the calculated, brand-focused switch, they were so proud after that they shared their scheme with the world.
Unfortunately for both North Face and the agency responsible for the gaming the search results, the public and Wikipedia were not so impressed. The agency had originally released their video under the guise that it was some sort of collaboration with Wikipedia, which was quickly debunked. In fact, once Wikipedia volunteers were made aware, every shadily added image was either removed or edited so the company’s logo would no longer be in view.
One of the more amusing parts of the story to me is the already live section on North Face’s own Wikipedia page, appropriately called “Abuse of Wikipedia in advertising” that covers the events and backlash.
What do you think? Was this essentially cheating to get ahead?
Lead image by Samuel Clara.
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