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Use of Student Plants to Pitch Products Rising

Zonk posted about 9 years ago | from the tattoo'd-with-the-adult-swim-logo dept.

The Almighty Buck 274

theodp wrote to mention a Seattle PI article about software and niche companies using college-age hucksters to get the word about their product out. From the article: "Microsoft is among a growing number of companies seeking to reach the elusive but critical college market by hiring students to be ambassadors -- or, in more traditional terms, door-to-door salesmen. In an age when the college demographic is no longer easily reached by television, radio or newspapers -- as TiVo, satellite radio, iPods and the Internet crowd out the traditional advertising venues -- a microindustry of campus marketing has emerged. Niche firms have sprung up to act as recruiters of students, who then market products on campus for companies such as Microsoft, JetBlue Airways, The Cartoon Network and Victoria's Secret."

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This is the Victoria's Secret thread (5, Funny)

LeonGeeste (917243) | about 9 years ago | (#13907534)

Please confine all "clever" jokes about female college students promoting Victoria's Secret products to this thread and this thread only. Thank you.

Re:This is the Victoria's Secret thread (4, Funny)

OverlordQ (264228) | about 9 years ago | (#13907569)

I dont have a clever joke, I'm just wondering when they show up at my campus.

Re:This is the Victoria's Secret thread (1)

fbartho (840012) | about 9 years ago | (#13907619)

Well... here at Umich, they started showing up thursday-friday night, and keep walking around till this monday... of course I don't know if they're models, or just dressing down for halloween...

Re:This is the Victoria's Secret thread (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907757)

Those are HOOKERS, stupid.

Re:This is the Victoria's Secret thread (1)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | about 9 years ago | (#13907867)

Don't be silly.

College students can't afford hookers.

"I'll pay you with half-a-bud and some top-raman".

Re:This is the Victoria's Secret thread (1)

khallow (566160) | about 9 years ago | (#13907797)

I have yet to see any clever jokes show up at my campus. We might have to make our own. :-(

Re:This is the Victoria's Secret thread (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907828)

Sorry-- they don't come to DeVry

Re:This is the Victoria's Secret thread (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907574)

MOD PARENT DOWN!!!
Seriously- Only on slashdot would that be modded insightful. Trying to get FP and say something besides FP! or Frist Psot, and it gets modded insightful... OOhhhh- Bra jokes!!! Guess what- Victoria's secret lingerie doesn't look like the underwear you found in your mom's drawer. When you meet a nice woman, and she lets you see her panties, you may even see some lace! Or the kind of undies that aren't really functional, but look good. Until then, enjoy sniffing those size XXXXL bloomers you keep under yur mattress! And don't try to take the first post spot with your lame shite.

Re:This is the Victoria's Secret thread (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907649)

An angry anonymous slashdot troll, you must be a devil with the ladies!

Re:This is the Victoria's Secret thread (2, Funny)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 9 years ago | (#13907661)

Can you imagine Victoria's Secret being promoted to the same general group as Cartoon Network? What's next, teaming up with Nickelodeon to put Invader Zim on a crotchless panty?

Re:This is the Victoria's Secret thread (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907689)

Or SpongeBob? (envisions spongebob modelling underwear)

Re:This is the Victoria's Secret thread (1)

DavidD_CA (750156) | about 9 years ago | (#13907679)

I, for one, would like to see proof.

Re:This is the plant sub-thread (1)

greenguy (162630) | about 9 years ago | (#13907744)

In a similar vein, I would like to institute a sub-thread for the "In my day, 'student plants' meant something totally different" jokes.

Thanks.

In my school (1)

earthforce_1 (454968) | about 9 years ago | (#13907770)

The (ugly) radical feminists would have run them off campus.
   

Re:In my school (1)

ari_j (90255) | about 9 years ago | (#13907836)

Vote Republican - they are tolerant of hot women in lingerie.

Re:In my school (1)

plover (150551) | about 9 years ago | (#13907859)

Vote Republican - they are tolerant of hot women in lingerie.

but not women in blue dresses!

As Einstein once said... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907537)

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

I have an idea to appeal to college students (5, Informative)

assassinator42 (844848) | about 9 years ago | (#13907547)

Make your stuff cheaper. In all the colleges/universities. This idea is more for Microsoft, since I don't want Cartoon Network to make their shows cheaper.

Re:I have an idea to appeal to college students (1)

JamesTheBoilermaker (822315) | about 9 years ago | (#13907596)

Some colleges do that. My school has an agreement with Microsoft that allows students and faculty to purchase MS software very cheaply. The prices have gone up slightly, but a few years ago I bought Windows XP Pro and Office XP Pro for $5 each.

Re:I have an idea to appeal to college students (1)

lexarius (560925) | about 9 years ago | (#13907631)

The College of Engineering here at UF has a similar deal. We get a lot of different MS developer-type stuff (including WinXP Pro) for $0. We get them by download. Legally, even. And worth every penny. (Ok, maybe a tiny bit more)

Re:I have an idea to appeal to college students (2, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | about 9 years ago | (#13907659)

It's not quite that cheap -- the school's part of the license fees comes from student activity fees or somesuch.

Make your stuff cheaper? (5, Informative)

max born (739948) | about 9 years ago | (#13907699)

Title 15, chapter 2, sec 13a of the US Code (Part of the The Clayton Antitrust Act [stolaf.edu] ) says it's illegal to:

to sell, or contract to sell, goods at unreasonably low prices for the purpose of destroying competition or eliminating a competitor.

Microsoft needs work, but Adobe needs a miracle (5, Insightful)

mister_llah (891540) | about 9 years ago | (#13907755)

Microsoft does make signifigant student discounts, though they certain could make more, Office is still quite expensive for those of us who are broke.

I'd love to see *ADOBE* really cut their prices for students... God forbid an graphic design student actually want to buy a copy of Photoshop...

Re:Microsoft needs work, but Adobe needs a miracle (2, Informative)

Thnikkaman (818752) | about 9 years ago | (#13907824)

Are you stupid? Education pricing on the Premium Creative Suite is $400 compared to $1200 normally. Seems like a significant discount to me...

Re:Microsoft needs work, but Adobe needs a miracle (1)

Slow Smurf (839532) | about 9 years ago | (#13907856)

Considering the only reason that software could exist is so people can get the real version later to sell stuff, whatever you learn has no legal requirements later, does it?(aside from the original theft, which is insignificant if you aren't selling anything made with it)

Seems like a ripoff to me still.

Re:I have an idea to appeal to college students (1)

brain_not_ticking (722737) | about 9 years ago | (#13907844)

Um, at my school [www.ubc.ca] , at least for the students in computer science, most microsoft products are available for free.

If this actually worked, then kids would vote (2, Insightful)

saskboy (600063) | about 9 years ago | (#13907548)

I've tried marketing voting at a University, and people weren't interested. The problem was I wasn't handing out ballots with a pen, and a ballot box down the hallway. Kids will take what is pushed into their hand, especially if the pusher is attractive, and they don't stand to lose money immediately on the free product. I may not be attractive enough to market democracy, but isn't it a shame that Coke and Microsoft have that kind of appeal, but the fricken government that can take your money WITHOUT tricking you with marketing, holds no interest with the slobbering masses.

Re:If this actually worked, then kids would vote (2, Insightful)

Sensible Clod (771142) | about 9 years ago | (#13907568)

Well, there's an important factor that may or may not make this effective.

See, most kids these days aren't really interested in voting, in part because they don't really see how it might benefit them, and because many of them are more or less disillusioned with government in general.

On the other hand, how could you NOT be interested in Vicky's Secrets? There are obvious benefits ;-)

Re:If this actually worked, then kids would vote (1)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | about 9 years ago | (#13907586)

On the other hand, how could you NOT be interested in Vicky's Secrets? There are obvious benefits ;-)
Uh- I could very easily not be interested in vicky's secrets... Like if they are on a 180 pound woman, or on a man. A big ol woman in a pearl thong isn't my idea of heaven....

Re:If this actually worked, then kids would vote (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907594)

Well, there's an important factor that may or may not make this effective.

In his case, I suspect not being an obnoxious asshole might make it more effective.

Re:If this actually worked, then kids would vote (4, Insightful)

thesandtiger (819476) | about 9 years ago | (#13907570)

I don't mean to be rude, but don't you think the problem might be your attitude? You're referring to people as "the slobbering masses." I think you'd do better if you tried not insulting the people you're reaching out to.

Re:If this actually worked, then kids would vote (1)

saskboy (600063) | about 9 years ago | (#13907613)

I only say things like that after meeting apalling apathy for several hours from people who are supposedly the best educated people in the city, or are striving to become them. And I've been listening to Lewis Black for 2 hours, so I might be a tad over the top in my distain for ignorami :-)

Re:If this actually worked, then kids would vote (2, Insightful)

rkohutek (122839) | about 9 years ago | (#13907577)

I think the difference is that with the Government CAN take your money without marketing. When your opinion has little effect on whether or not someone can do something, and then even less effect on what happens to that money once it's gone, apathy reigns.

Yes, I know that voting is the method to change those two things, but a lot of people see it as an 8000lbs gorilla that can and will do whatever the heck it wants.

Monoview. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907789)

"Yes, I know that voting is the method to change those two things, but a lot of people see it as an 8000lbs gorilla that can and will do whatever the heck it wants."

And therein lies the problem. People aren't educating themselves enough about the process our founders set up, and thereby have this narrow view that there's only one way, one obligation.

Voting isn't the only way, and it was never ment to be.

Re:If this actually worked, then kids would vote (0, Troll)

Hao Wu (652581) | about 9 years ago | (#13907583)

"Kids will take what is pushed into their hand, especially if the pusher is attractive, and they don't stand to lose money immediately on the free product."

It's reflex. You are only annoying people when you do that, and once they figure out that you're just a salesman - they litter.


"I may not be attractive enough to market democracy,"

WOW - you're in college!?!

Re:If this actually worked, then kids would vote (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 9 years ago | (#13907734)

Is voting in a national election even rational? There's no possible way your vote will affect the outcome, they can't even count the ballots with with that much precision. The only way to make any difference is to convince a large number of other voters.

Re:If this actually worked, then kids would vote (1)

Arandir (19206) | about 9 years ago | (#13907798)

Give them time. Right now they're in fantasyland with no cares at all. They're still in government-indoctrination mode, which started at age six.

Wait until they get out into the real world. Four days having to pay their own rent instead of leeching of mom/dad/gov will install more sense into their heads than four whole years of you yelling at them.

Re:If this actually worked, then kids would vote (4, Funny)

Mateito (746185) | about 9 years ago | (#13907832)

Kids will take what is pushed into their hand, especially if the pusher is attractive,

Yes, your honour, and that's how the baggie ended up in my jacket pocket.

Re:If this actually worked, then kids would vote (1)

Osiris Ani (230116) | about 9 years ago | (#13907861)

...holds no interest with the slobbering masses.
Do you really want the slobbering masses doing even more voting than they already have been? Honestly, aren't they the idiots who landed us in this fresh hell in the first place? I remain unconvinced that getting the stupid out to the polls is actually the way to go.

--
"Every nation has the government it deserves." - Joseph de Maistre

Apple Campus Reps (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907551)

Apple's been doing this for years. 3 Large campus' in this Metro area all have CR's that work to promote Apple on campus. It's all about the viral marketing baby.

Re:Apple Campus Reps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907561)

Christians have been doing this for hundreds of years... since the introduction of universities.

BTW, campus' is not the plural of campus, and if you're going to pretend to a college education, it might pay to check out a dictionary every now and then.

Re:Apple Campus Reps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907600)

I was going to retort with some witty remark about your ability to check your own grammar (in this case a missing word) but I digress. I suppose this would be one of the famous and often remarked posts of a Troll.

Arrrggghh.

Re:Apple Campus Reps (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907694)

Link: http://campusreps.apple.com [apple.com]

Re:Apple Campus Reps (3, Informative)

Galileo430 (614516) | about 9 years ago | (#13907731)

Being part of said program. I have to say. It's a bunch of fun. I basically get paid to do everything I used to. I use Apple products in my everyday life. People used to constantly ask me about them. I'd give them any answers they wanted. None of that has changed. I just get paid now.

Of course, I do more now too. Demo table events, talking to faculty.. some of the best stuff comes from this. You never realize how much a college has to offer until you've talked to everyone.

My personal feeling is, while you could turn it into a salesman position. I think such jobs are best served by NOT being a sales drone. Listen and connect, if you have something that will help him the sale almost makes itself after that.

I welcome our new overlords ... (1, Funny)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | about 9 years ago | (#13907559)

... the Victoria's Secret door-to-door saleswomen, that is!

Been happening for a while (3, Informative)

pete6677 (681676) | about 9 years ago | (#13907572)

It's happening already. Check out this forum [purdueonline.com] on a Purdue student messageboard. This idiot is plugging some sort of notetaking software.

Re:Been happening for a while (1)

killjoe (766577) | about 9 years ago | (#13907667)

I wonder how much astro turfing is going on in schools. I can see corporations singling out popular kids and giving them free stuff to influence the other kids who aspire to be popular. This kind of thing is more likely to work in high school but I bet it works in collage too.

Re:Been happening for a while (1)

Sri Ramkrishna (1856) | about 9 years ago | (#13907800)

It figures it happens at my alma mater. Useless.

sri

Reminds me (3, Interesting)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | about 9 years ago | (#13907576)

Reminds me of an excellent book called Everybody In Silico. Basically it takes place in the future where advertising has run even further amok and people are transitioning permanently to a new cyber world.

What reminded me was that in the book, they have people who go up and pitch things directly to other people, and they have watches that listen for audio cues, and when they've successfully pitched someone, money is deposited into an account for them.

And while I should know this since I'm in advertising.....how do these companies make sure these kids are actually pitching? How do they know they're not just paying them to go dick around with their friends and not do anything? There's no real sort of metrics for this sort of thing nor is there much control.

Re:Reminds me (1)

JoshDanziger (878933) | about 9 years ago | (#13907636)

Frankly, it doesn't matter how much time these kids spend. Let's assume, for a second, that a CR does nothing beyond putting up posters around campus. Now, give that student a fancy new iPod Nano or Apple iBook.

Ya know what? I saw the nano (a few weeks after it came out), and was just astonished at how small it was. No amount of advertising could have had the same impact. Even if you see that the nano is the size of two fingers on a large poster, when the image is poster-sized, you don't realize how small it is!

But, back to my point... The students don't necessarily have to actively promote the product. Just *using* it is sometimes enough. For example, if someone is using MS OneNote to take notes in class, maybe peers would take notice? I know that I started using OneNote because a prof used it to project all of the notes for a class...

Hours don't matter. It's all about exposure.

My grandpa used to say... (2, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | about 9 years ago | (#13907587)

If they have to market it on commercials, its probably not worth what you have to pay for it.

I would think that "word of mouth" advertising would work quite a bit better if your product was worth paying for? Perhaps I'm just cynical, but I am thinking that this is no better than commercials, but you can't switch the channel...this is more "in your face"

Arrggg I'm having memories of people selling household cleaning stuff door to door while "working their way through college" ... and then there is that other venerable vocation where most participants are 'working their way through college' (wink wink)

Seriously, how does this help companies that already have GLOBAL brand name recognition?

Reminds me of the old (reputably true) MLM joke... (3, Insightful)

StevenMaurer (115071) | about 9 years ago | (#13907588)

A guy goes into a small business convention and gets roped in by some huckster trying to get him into a Multilevel Marketing company. After sitting through his lecture about how great the opportunity is, how it's can't miss, how he can just get everyone around him to buy the company's crap at outrageous prices, and there isn't much investment, the guy gets asked "Come on! What have you got to lose?"

His answer: "All my friends".

"Push marketing" types, also known as salesmen, keep trying to push crap products onto people. But generally, good products sell themselves.

History lesson. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907655)

""Push marketing" types, also known as salesmen, keep trying to push crap products onto people. But generally, good products sell themselves."

I swear this crowd acts like they have never been in the real world.* Anyway if "good products" sells themselves? Then:

1) There never would have been a need for advertising (history shows otherwise even in ancient times).

2) Betamax would have won instead of VHS.

*Up next consultants are satan and all salesman sell crap. Geeks all live in their basements, and are anti-social trolls.

Re:Reminds me of the old (reputably true) MLM joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907820)

The idea of a good product sells itself. I work in retail when I'm not at college, and the difference between the product I sell and my competitors' products is rarely large enough to matter-- yes, ours may be higher quality fabrics, but theirs are cheaper, and what have you. Basically though, we sell the same clothes. What it comes down to is the employee's ability to get people -into- the clothes they want to wear. Campus marketing to raise awareness seems completely legitimate, from my experience.

Credit Card Pushers (1)

phukraut (668761) | about 9 years ago | (#13907606)

I'm not sure how new this is. I remember students hired to set up tables at my university to push credit card applications onto other students coming out of classes---some of the people most likely to mess up their credit thanks to being independent for the first time and not knowing how to manage money.

At least the marketers never invaded the classroom itself; although Coca Cola has already invaded our cafeterias.

Re:Credit Card Pushers (1)

lexarius (560925) | about 9 years ago | (#13907653)

At UF the trick is "Free food! Just fill out this little application! Only takes a few minutes!". Citibank hasn't stopped sending me stuff since. Bleh.

Re:Credit Card Pushers (1)

mako1138 (837520) | about 9 years ago | (#13907852)

Yeah, we have people pushing free pizza and t-shirts.

Don't give door-to-door sales a bad name (1)

QuantumG (50515) | about 9 years ago | (#13907608)

At least they're honest about selling you a product. They're not pretending they're your friend or that this is a personal cause. For the brief period of my life that I did door-to-door sales I never lied to get a sale. I didn't try to convince people that I was there to do anything less than sell them a product, service, or promotion, usually at a very competitive price. As such, I never had a door slammed on my face, or was treated disrespectfully. Thankfully I've never done telesales.. it's just way too impersonal and agressive.

Re:Don't give door-to-door sales a bad name (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907776)

So you don't have recent Indian* immigrants trying to sell you... ...sorry, I'm not selling you anything. My job is just to explain this electricty contract that I'd like you to sign right now, as this is my bread and butter. No I don't get commissions, the company just pays me to explain how you can save money...

Arrrgh. What part of the word 'NO' don't you understand?


*Not racist, just that the Indian culture doesn't seem to know what 'no, thankyou' means, be it door-to-door or telemarketing.

Re:Don't give door-to-door sales a bad name (1)

QuantumG (50515) | about 9 years ago | (#13907825)

See, what was really annoying is people who would open the door and say "I don't want to buy anything". I would generally say "ok, fine. I'll just go then" to which 90% of people would say "oh no, tell me what it is first" and I'd actually tell them and they'd say "hey, yeah, that actually is a good deal" and they'd buy. The key is to be polite and not be forceful. One thing that never felt good though was the rehash.. trying to get someone who has already agreed to by one to buy more. It annoys most everyone, but most people react by laughing, not by getting abusive. And, unfortunately, most people will buy a second item if you point out the benefits, so you have to try otherwise you've wasted an opportunity.

I've seen them (3, Insightful)

Ctrl+Alt+De1337 (837964) | about 9 years ago | (#13907611)

Here at the University of Florida I've seen the Microsoft ones. They're heavily promoting OneNote, figuring college students probably would have use of note-taking software. Except that most people don't go to class, ergo they don't take notes, and those that do generally buy the note packets from local copy stores (professors put all of their slides or outlines of all of the lectures together and the stores print and bind them). There's no need for OneNote when you have the slides on paper.

They also wrote a URL for how to download a free trial in sidewalk chalk all over campus, which is technically regarded as graffiti and as such is against campus rules. Fortunately a combination of UPD and the outer bands of Tropical Storm Tammy took care of that. I haven't seen them since.

Re:I've seen them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907686)

I'm not a MS shrill, and honestly it is a bit lame that they would do this, but OneNote is a quite a good program. I use it when I DM D&D (I keep campaign and world notes in different sections), and it is handy for medical school IMO.

Re:I've seen them (1)

briancurtin (901109) | about 9 years ago | (#13907705)

someone at my school took to the sidewalks promoting a sale at one of the beer stores, right next to the sidewalk chalk mentioning flu shots in the health office or something. now those are the kinds of sidewalk chalk advertisements i will pay attention to

Re:I've seen them (1)

name773 (696972) | about 9 years ago | (#13907736)

sidewalk is grafiti?... on a college campus?!

Great (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907620)

"I dream of a future where marketing has no bounds....Billboards, TV and radio commericals, fliers, even people!"
        -Satan

Have I got a deal for you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907621)

As Slick opens his coat and shows you 50 shining new CDs of MS office and shows you his crackz sheet and keygens.

Probably politically incorrect (1)

elgee (308600) | about 9 years ago | (#13907627)

To have students push beer or Jack Daniels or one of my other favorite adult beverages.

I wonder if Victoria's Secret is going after the tranny market?

Bar peoples (1)

mister_llah (891540) | about 9 years ago | (#13907774)

I talked to one of those guys who go to bars and liquor stores... they basically get a hundred or two a night to just go out to bars and give away free stuff.

I've never seen them outside of those two venues... so I think it's pretty PC, the folks who are already inclined to drink just get free stuff (shirts, samples, buttons) ... heck, I got some free Stoli that way ;)

Yeah (0, Troll)

pHatidic (163975) | about 9 years ago | (#13907634)

I know at my Uni (Cornell) they pay kids good money to go sit out on the quad playing Xbox and PS2 to promote the latest games. It is something like 500 bucks for a day of playing video games, so all the undergrad business kids to compete to get the job. Talk about corporate whoring...

Yeah-A rose by any other name. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907702)

"It is something like 500 bucks for a day of playing video games, so all the undergrad business kids to compete to get the job. Talk about corporate whoring..."

Funny how getting money to play games is considered "whoring". But when you all get together at a LAN competition playing various games and winning prizes and money, sponsered by AMD or Nvidia, it's considered a sport.

Re:Yeah (1)

Theremin Maestro (894031) | about 9 years ago | (#13907719)

Currently a sophomore at Cornell, and I have NEVER heard of this, much less seen it.

Re:Yeah (1)

PGC (880972) | about 9 years ago | (#13907782)

Are you talking about 500 dollars american dollars ? a day? for gaming?

Who do you have to kill to get that job ?

Already a term.. (4, Insightful)

Bananatree3 (872975) | about 9 years ago | (#13907638)

This is called Astroturf. (movements that look their grassroots, but in reality are sponsored by a company).

Re:Already a term.. (3, Informative)

RDaneel2 (533639) | about 9 years ago | (#13907715)

I saw the article and immediately said to myself "didn't this used to be called astroturfing?" Then I noticed this comment and decided to add to it for those unfamiliar with the term... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing [wikipedia.org]

Re:Already a term.. (1, Troll)

Arandir (19206) | about 9 years ago | (#13907804)

I think it's great. It teaches kids salesmanship and entepreneurship. Much better than sitting in Socialism 101 and hearing about how horrible the world is.

You don't like the product they're selling? Don't buy it!

Re:Already a term.. (1)

bubkus_jones (561139) | about 9 years ago | (#13907817)

some people'll buy the product just to get the "salesperson" off their back.

Re:Already a term.. (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | about 9 years ago | (#13907847)

It teaches deceptive business practices. It's only salesmanship if you're upfront with people, otherwise it's just grifting.

Re:Already a term.. (2, Funny)

FidelCatsro (861135) | about 9 years ago | (#13907843)

As they say , It takes the right tool for the job , and this job requires a right Tool .

I find astro-turfing particularly insidious

Street Teams (1)

Fuzzle (590327) | about 9 years ago | (#13907640)

It's called a street team. Bands have been doing it for years. Nothing really all that new.

They're missing the point... (1)

glenkim (412499) | about 9 years ago | (#13907643)

College students will smart up to this, too. They forget the whole reason we moved away from print, regular TV, and radio. At least for me, I did it TO GET AWAY from the advertisements that those mediums were just overloaded with. If I didn't buy in back then, why would I buy in now?

This just in: Students will do anything for money (1)

bersl2 (689221) | about 9 years ago | (#13907658)

My roommate is a perfect example of this. He is obsessed with poker, and I get the feeling it's not out of love for the game. He buys stuff and resells it on eBay---which is OK on its own, but sometimes he'll auction off things he doesn't have, then order them from Amazon, and make it so that they ship straight to the auction winner.

I have no doubt he would shill for money. The guy has nary a moral fiber in his body, at least when it comes to money.

Re:This just in: Students will do anything for mon (1)

cristofer8 (550610) | about 9 years ago | (#13907746)

That's called good business sense. If people are willing to pay more on ebay for something than it costs on Amazon, they deserve to be taken advantage of. "The guy has nary a moral fiber in his body" is pure bs - he's just better than you at the game we call capitalism.

Re:This just in: Students will do anything for mon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907794)

No that doesn't seem like good capitalism at all. It seems like fraud. If somebody is advertising a product on E-Bay that they do not actually own yet and they do not disclose that information, that is not a good thing. Without a basic level of trust between buyers and sellers there is no economy. Said person needs that "moral fiber" or he's going to end up the slimy kind of salesman that nobody wants to talk to at a used car dealership. It's hardly anything to be admired.

Re:This just in: Students will do anything for mon (1)

jcnnghm (538570) | about 9 years ago | (#13907811)

Doesn't matter where you get it or if you have it as long as you deliver what you say you are going to deliver. Many, many things are sold before they exist, hardly fraud.

Re:This just in: Students will do anything for mon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907751)

Gambling in order to win, and selling things at a profit... he might be immoral, but I hardly consider either behavior evidence for it.

Re:This just in: Students will do anything for mon (1)

Arandir (19206) | about 9 years ago | (#13907816)

What's wrong with shilling for money? It's a great skill to learn. Eventually you'll get out of college, and you will have to start shilling something. Even if it's just shilling yourself to an employer during an interview, it's still shilling.

I remember Insurance co's doing this, years ago... (1)

ivi (126837) | about 9 years ago | (#13907660)

of course, after a student had sold insurance to
  their friends & relatives, they couldn't meet
  their sales quotas... and got replaced by the
  "next generation" of student salespeople.

  History repeats itself...

I hope those student salesmen are smart enough... (1)

Calyth (168525) | about 9 years ago | (#13907697)

to stay the hell away from their local Computing Science club. I know what will happen if one of these guys tried this stuff at my CS student society. They'd end up arguing until they wish they died!

Apple! Uck! (4, Interesting)

mister_llah (891540) | about 9 years ago | (#13907748)

I have seen Apple use a lot of college plants here at Northern Illinois where I go to school.

Not only that, but I have, myself, been approached by Apple. Last year I ran a film festival for amateur film makers, they approached me about running it again, and changing it to use only Apple products and the iMovie format.

I have heard from a couple of dissatisfied members of the Mac support group here on campus that it has become little more than a sales convention every other week when it meets.

That same group had an event on campus called "Who is your Mac Daddy", which was basically just a tupperware party for Apple products.

It's sick...

College students with... (2, Funny)

Morgor (542294) | about 9 years ago | (#13907761)

a license to shill
(check this [userfriendly.org] if you don't know what I am talking about)

Apple Campus Reps. (1)

PopeOptimusPrime (875888) | about 9 years ago | (#13907778)

They get all the perks, free powerbooks, nanos, mighty-mice, etc. Also, they get a freakin sweet laptop bag with integrated speakers.

I know someone who did this. (1)

ForestGrump (644805) | about 9 years ago | (#13907780)

She was a Microsoft Rep at her school. Basically did promotions for MS- like raffle off free software/games.

After she graduated, she tried the MS interview but didn't make the cut.

Anyway, she had some leftover software and gave me a copy of Visual Studio. Nice but sadly, I'm an environemntal sci major.

Grump

Everybody Wins (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13907796)

Everyone wins.

Student Salesman: Gets money

College Students: learn more about products, get discouts thanks to their friends being reps.

Companies: More sales.

My high school had this around prom time... 10% off your tux rental for each refereal... refer 10 and its free.

Obligatory Negativity Towards Microsoft (3, Funny)

unixbugs (654234) | about 9 years ago | (#13907807)

Seriously, if some yo-yo wearing a "Go Microsoft!" shirt approached me extolling the virtues of closed source and costly maintainability, all in the name of selling me software, I would probably be the last person they accosted with their moronic and highly unintelligent slant on how great Bill Gates is.

Now you might say that I am biased against Microsoft (where you would get this idea I don't know), but hey, consider that I have had to put up with wormy networks and teach people how to configure 14 different versions of Outlook for years. "Daaahhh.. I can't print! ...". When I made my switch (mid 90's, thanks) I had to learn a little more (how inconvenient), but at least I have a lot of free time and cash now. You have to really admire an Operating System which you can set up and forget about for months if not years at a time. I know, very inconvenient.

The idea of sending out armies of college students to market their product is of course what one can expect from such an unscrupulous company. I wouldn't be suprised if Microsoft made these people tattoo the butterfly on their asses as a marketing ploy. At least the butterfly would get maximum exposure given the type of people who it would sport it... I know this one guy who uses his free time to write code to send to Microsoft as if anyone there likes him or even knows him. "Camel Balls" we call him, he walks around shoving his nuts out wearing pants that are too tight, ranting about how my firewall is pushing traffic out the wrong interface because someone told him how to use 'iptraf' and now he is a UNIX Expert. What a douche bag. Like alot of MCSEs he tries to tell me things about Linux and computers in general that have no basis in reality whatsoever. Incidentally he was incorrect about the firewall - he had no idea what he was looking at anyway.

The point is, whoever comes up to me better have a nice rack or I'll ruin their day. I'm just being honest. I don't like greedy companies and I can't stand people who support them for free. WTF is that??? Just give up your free time to work for Microsoft so they can make more money off of your dumb, broke ass. Give ME a break! At least OSS is given to the WORLD, not directly to some prick's pocketbook.

Warning: Do not mod me down or I will find you and hide a Windows ME box in the false ceiling on your network!

Buzz (4, Informative)

An Onerous Coward (222037) | about 9 years ago | (#13907813)

Just today I was reading a copy of a New York Times Magazine article that had a pretty similar theme. There is a company out there (I'll call it "Bzz", because I don't remember the name but Bzz is pretty close) that works with unpaid volunteer "agents" to promote its customers' brands. People sign up, get product samples, then they're given talking points and told to go out and generate buzz for the product. The agents talk to their friends, fill out suggestion cards, call supermarkets/bookstores/etc. to ask whether they carry the product.

The reporters were surprised at how enthusiastic people were about doing unpaid work on behalf of these companies. Though Bzz offered a reward program, not many people cash in on it. The reporters came up with quite a few (mostly complementary) explanations. First, Bzz claimed that it only marketed 20% of the products that came to them, leaving the impression that their agents were only being asked to pimp the really good stuff. Then you have that eternal desire to be "in the know", to suggest a product or a restaurant to your friends and having the suggestion stick (see Linux advocacy). Finally, it seems that if you ask people to choose among basically equivalent items, when one of those items is somehow "theirs", they tend to value that item more highly. So just by giving agents a sample of the product, the marketing company can create a positive impression.

Officially, Bzz doesn't require its unpaid agents to spin the product in a positive light. All they ask is that people talk about the product. This helps sell people on the idea of being advertisers, since they're just being asked to talk about their opinions, rather than slavishly following the party line.

I think this is a small step up from some forms of astroturfing (for example, hiring beautiful women to go to bars and order Drink X), but not a big one. The worst part about these techniques is that they constitute an abuse of trust. Such activities allow a big corporation to sneak their "message" into what people assume to be a candid exchange of information. Whether the messengers are being paid in dollars, "points", sexual favors, or pats on the back isn't terribly relevant to me. The issue is that one party to the conversation has a hidden agenda that the other party isn't going to be on the lookout for.

Look at it this way: the marketers advertised so incessantly at us that we mostly tuned them out. We turned instead to the people around us for information. Now the evil bastards want to exploit the one remaining source of "unbiased" information. I mean, sure we're all biased, but the point is, we're plugging for our own biases, not those of the product manufacturer. They've finally found ways to exploit our trust in each other for personal profit, and they give fuck all if they're damaging that trust as they do so. Fight this.

The activities in the article are shameless in their own ways, but at least the targets have a better chance of discerning that the people plugging the product are paid product pluggers.

Re:Buzz (1)

jonfr (888673) | about 9 years ago | (#13907873)

Pepole ignore ads today, on Tv, Radio, Movies and on the Internet and other places that i have forgot about. The reasion why pepole are ignoreing ads today is simple, ads are being hammerd on them all day long, every day of the year. Ads have just become one other annoying thing that pepole have to life with (background noise).

This "Word by mouth" methoud is just new way to get to pepole, this methoud will soon be ignored as well.

I heard about something like this... (1)

Descalzo (898339) | about 9 years ago | (#13907851)

I read somewhere, but I can't find it on the 'Net, that Tommy Hilfiger would pay gangstas to be seen around South Central LA wearing Tommy's clothes. Has anyone else heard about this?

Irrelevant Examples (1)

bondsbw (888959) | about 9 years ago | (#13907868)

The examples presented typically are irrelevant because they don't have a large need for representation to college students. Microsoft... already represented on most campuses with official OS support, and CS departments tend to buy into their MSDN volume licensing. JetBlue Airways... some college students may fly, but most universities cater mostly to local students with in-state tuition. The Cartoon Network... the post suggests that TV is out and other things are in. Maybe they should instead push cable and satellite companies to cater to the college group more? Victoria's Secret... college students find this store easily enough on their own.

Kill yourself (0, Offtopic)

mwigmani (558450) | about 9 years ago | (#13907871)

If you're selling yourself in college, a point in your life where you basically have no responsibilities other than to yourself, please do everyone a favor and fucking kill yourself.

Engage in some morally-positive work like prostitution or drug-dealing or something. Just don't hawk wares for companies to your 'friends'.

Did someone say "Victoria's Secret"? :D (1)

Skudd (770222) | about 9 years ago | (#13907875)

Man, if I were given a shot at being an ambassador for Victoria's Secret, I'd take it! :P

I mean, come on! What college-aged male wouldn't?

Er... Ahem... Go White Sox?
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