If you can believe it, Hardee's has released an ad without a woman trying to stuff a bunch of straws into her mouth, without a woman writhing atop a mechanical bull and without Paris Hilton slathering herself with soap. nope. Just a bunch of guys talking with their mouths full. Typical.
While test market pilots proved Procter & Gamble's word of mouth arm, Vocalpoint, is a success and increases sales, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association and Gary Ruskin's Commercial Alert are not pleased with Vocalpoint's army of 600,000 moms who spread buzz about P&G products and others because Vocalpoint does not require its "connectors" to disclose who they work for, a key tennet in the Word of Mouth Marketing Association's Code of Ethics.
While disclosure certainly appears to be the ethical thing to do, the debate as to whether it affects success can be debated until Paris Hilton can remember the name of the product she's hawking. Vocalpoint CEO Steve Knox says the company takes what he calls the "high road" adding, "We have a deeply held belief you don't tell the consumer what to say." Ruskin calls Vocalpoint and other word of mouth marketing efforts hinder trust and are causing a "commercialization of human relations." WOMMA Founding Member, Nielsen BuzzMetrics CMO and former P&G Brand Manager Pete Blackshaw adds, "There are a lot of word-of-mouth programs in play now, many of which are unsavory. As the leader in the industry, P&G has a higher obligation to set the right standard."