This post is somewhat of an addition to my post before this one: Mediating Your Own Reality. Guerrilla media is becoming increasingly hijacked by advertising. What inspired me to write my previous post was the Antwerp station dance video which was a publicity stunt to advertise for a show.
Advertisers aren’t contented to just control what you view on a screen or a billboard. Public relations is big business which essentially equates to propaganda for hire. It can be hard to detect the genuine from the fake. For example, see astroturfing (Wikipedia):
The goal of such a campaign is to disguise the efforts of a political or commercial entity as an independent public reaction to some political entity—a politician, political group, product, service or event. Astroturfers attempt to orchestrate the actions of apparently diverse and geographically distributed individuals, by both overt (“outreach”, “awareness”, etc.) and covert (disinformation) means. Astroturfing may be undertaken by an individual pushing a personal agenda or highly organized professional groups with financial backing from large corporations, non-profits, or activist organizations. Very often the efforts are conducted by political consultants who also specialize in opposition research.
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In business, astroturfing is one form of stealth marketing, which can include the manipulation of viral marketing. Several examples are described as “undercover marketing” in the documentary The Corporation.
The term “astroturfing” is also used to describe public relations activities aimed at “falsely creating the impression of independent, popular support by means of an orchestrated and disguised public relations exercise….designed to give the impression of spontaneous support for an idea/product/company/service,”
Some websites such as sourcewatch.org try to help people to see past all of the spin. Here are some videos for your further edification.