Monday, July 27, 2009

Oh good grief - Navy astroturfing?

So, LBG leaves us a little linky-poo to check out, the rather cute and helpful sounding site. So, being the curious boy that I am, I head over there to see what is going on.

With entries like, "Brand new to this and terrified," "Navy weight requirements," "In college and thinking about the Navy," and "Daughter having second thoughts .... HELP!", I thought, feh, and Navy Mom starting a self-help Oprahesque online community. Cool. I wish her well ....

Then .... the little dude with horns, a tail, and an arrest-me-red singlet that hangs out on my left shoulder started poking me with his frog-gig behind my ear and telling me, "She sure is a talented html coder, that sure is a nice fancy page, isn't it Phib?" The little dude on the right shoulder dressed up like an extra from Angels in America just shrugged his shoulders and said, "I'm not getting involved." So, time to dig.

I go to see who Admin for the site is and I get this;

So, ok. Elle is someone's wife who is stationed in Millington at CNP. Nice. Probably gets some good info from hubby after work - tied in and concerned with the Navy community. Very nice. Maybe the wife of a senior officer or enlisted whose children have joined the family business -- even better. Thing is, little red-dude has that shi'ite eating grin on his face and my buddy with the uncomfortably hairless chest is looking away like he just doesn't want to see what comes next. Hmmmm.

So, I wondered, what is this Welcome Page all about? Ohhh, connected. There is RDML Braun, cool.

Find more videos like this on Navy For Moms

.... and ... wait ... did I read this right?
Hi moms, here's a new video from Rear Admiral Robin Braun. Who is she you ask? RDML Braun is our spokesperson. This site is very near and dear to her heart. She's a mom and currently serves the Navy as Deputy Commander at Navy Recruiting Command in Millington, TN.
Uh, oh.

This is starting to smell bad .... this site looks too good .... the prose is too ... too ....

Yes, singlet boy is cackling and the gender-identity poster child is crying .... and I go straight to whois ... and
what do I find?

Who is Campbell-Ewald?
Campbell-Ewald is an American advertising agency. Founded in 1911 by Frank Campbell and Henry Ewald, Campbell-Ewald is one of the top 25 agencies in the U.S., with almost $2 billion in annual billings. They currently have over 30 clients. Campbell-Ewald has offices in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and San Antonio and are headquartered in Warren, Michigan, just north of Detroit. The agency currently has over 1,100 employees.
Who is one of their clients?
The U.S. Navy has awarded its estimated $800 million, five-year recruiting advertising and marketing contract to Warren-based agency Campbell-Ewald after a nearly yearlong mandatory review.

The contract is the second largest for the agency after General Motors Corp.’s Chevrolet account, which C-E has had since 1922, but could become its biggest if the automaker continues to trim its advertising budget.
...and from their client slideshow, they claim ownership of Two sources ... I have a story ... that and their lawyers give it all away in the terms of service part.

Yes, the Campbell-Ewald that is getting over $.8 billion for 5 years of PR work for your Navy, advertises for the Navy in gay publications (not that there is anything wrong with that), and that creates too-clever-by-half astroturfing efforts to increase females in the Navy.

NavyForMoms is, my friends, pure
astroturfing. Shame on the Navy. Shame. There are fewer things more reviled in new-media than astroturfing.

Astroturfing is a kind of online lying. It is a way of showing contempt and a lack of respect for your target audience. It is also a way of demonstrating insecurity in your beliefs and a smug feeling of superiority (just a bit worse than anonbloggers who can't seem to find a way out from under their AFDB).

Shame. What looks like Navy women trying to help each other as they have as long as there have been Navies, we now know it is just a cheap, transparent PR stunt; ham-handed at that.

OK, where is the Navyfordads?
UPDATE: OK, this is getting some of the strangest defenders I have seen for something in awhile. Some, like Anon in comments, don't even seem to have read the post.

Of course it is described in the terms of service; don't I mention that in the post above? Let me help save you the trouble of reading the whole post.
...their lawyers give it all away in the terms of service part.
Come on folks, can't you do better than that? The most lame complaint/defense comes form swodom at SailorBob,
It is pretty obviously Navy sponsored (look at the fonts, style, and language) and standard web marketing fair. And who else would the "We" in "we give them the opportunity" be aside from the Navy?
Huh? Jo Anne Taxpayer will easy recognize what you see in the goat's entrails? Jo Anne Taxpayer is going to do a bunch of background research on a website and know the Navy's PR firms preferred web style - much less read the details in the terms and conditions? Really?

Seriously, no one really thinks that the Navy is being above board on this. "...
obviously Navy sponsored.." Really?

Man, if you think so, I don't want you on my bridge team (cards, not floaty thing).

UPDATE II - Electric Boogaloo:Ok, if I was sitting around the big table and they were asking for ideas where to advertise to make mothers support their daughters entrance into the Navy and I said, "Women care a lot about food and stuff they can do around the house. Let's put an add in Better Homes and Gardens and have a mother talk about how good the food is at Annapolis, just don't mention who used to run the place."

Well, I would be shipped off to re-education camp toot-sweet. Then again, maybe not.

Via a loyal reader, we have a link to an add for the site in
Better Homes & Gardens (in the full add you can see the US Navy claiming ownership of the advertisement (good lawyers) - good, now do the same for the site).


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