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October 16, 2006

PROGS - Wal-Marting Across America

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 10/16/2006 04:26:00 AM
What is a PROG? The truth is I invented that word. It is short for "Promotional Blog." Businessweek took Wal-mart Stores Inc to the cleaners this week for exposing Wal-Marting Across America as a fake blog written by Edelman, Walmart's PR firm (NYSE WMT). What was supposed to be a blog about two friends driving across America and sleeping in Wal-Mart parking lots turned out to be a hoax. According to MediaPost:

A pro-Wal-Mart blog called "Wal-Marting Across America," ostensibly launched by a pair of average Americans chronicling their cross-country travels in an RV and lodging in Wal-Mart parking lots, has been reduced to a farewell entry. One of its two contributors was revealed to be Jim Thresher, a staff photographer for The Washington Post.

The blog, launched Sept. 27, was profiled in this week's issue of BusinessWeek, which exposed the site as a promotional tactic engineered by Working Families for Wal-Mart (WFWM), an organization launched by Wal-Mart's public relations firm Edelman. WFWM paid for the RV and all travel expenses, rerouted the trip's original plan, and plastered a logo on the RV's side. Although the blog featured a link to WFWM, it did not identify the organization as a paid sponsor.
Will PROGS become the next big promotional medium? I hope not. I'd like to at least believe that blogs are written by real people rather than marketing/PR types trying to get me to buy something. Blogs are supposed to a voice for small businesses and consumers who traditionally could not be heard. The idea of big corporates trying to buy their way into the blogosphere seems just so unhip to me. Scott Karp from Publishing 2.0 seems to agree and I hope bloggers world wide will unite against this type of outrage.

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