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SAP planning blog attack on Oracle?

The concept of "stealth advertising" is not new and many companies use paid spokespeople on the web to pretend to be consumers and deceive readers by pretending to be impartial professionals.  Some companies even hire cheap offshore workers to ply blogs, forums and chat rooms with excessive praise for products and services.

The problem is when blogs are used to damage the reputation of a competitor, especially when their competitor is presented in a false-light and false information might be published. In today's global economy, armies of low-cost bloggers can be hired to condemn their competitors with misrepresentation and false allegations.

In this article titled "

Blogging is crucial to SAP's attack Oracle plan

", we see that SAP may be preparing to use blogs in their attack on Oracle, aimed to "disrupt Oracle":

"Mr Nolan's mission is to develop a strategy will disrupt Oracle and also use blogging and the new media technologies such as wikis, in building an internal SAP blogosphere."

The article also suggests a plan to create an "external component" (paid staff?) to ensure that SAP is "well represented" on the web:

"And there is also an external communications component and that is to make sure that SAP is well represented in whatever IT conversations are out there."

The article suggests that SAP will employ blogs as the vehicle for their "Attack Oracle" campaign, but the details are being kept a closely-guarded secret:

"Mr Nolan also talked about a couple of other communications strategies he is considering in his "Attack Oracle" campaign. I'm choosing not to mention them at the moment. I want to see how they might work because they are original ideas and I don't want to potentially blunt their effectiveness by writing about them first.

What is very clear is that Mr Nolan's early and lengthy experience with blogging has provided him with a keen awareness how things work in this new media age."

Is this deceptive?

In some countries, the practice of using paid workers to pretend to be consumers and attack their competitors is illegal, especially if they publish false information about their competition.  This Forbes article titled "

Attack of the blogs

" discusses the issue of false advertising with blogs:

"Blogs started a few years ago as a simple way for people to keep online diaries. Suddenly they are the ultimate vehicle for brand-bashing, personal attacks, political extremism and smear campaigns. It's not easy to fight back: Often a bashing victim can't even figure out who his attacker is."

It goes on to note that blogs are now being used as a marketing weapon:

"Some companies now use blogs as a weapon, unleashing swarms of critics on their rivals. "I'd say 50% to 60% of attacks are sponsored by competitors," says Bruce Fischman, a lawyer in Miami for targets of online abuse."

In this article titled "Fighting Back", we see that bloggers-for-hire can be a powerful weapon:

"Earlier this year Marqui, a tiny Portland, Ore. software shop, began paying 21 bloggers $800 per month to post items about Marqui, while requiring them to disclose the payments. Marqui's listings soared on Google from 2,000 to 250,000 results."


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