"Brandjacking" is the Latest Marketing Threat

Last Updated Sep 2, 2008 8:37 PM EDT

Just when you thought it was safe to return to your desk after a summer at the beach, here's the latest headache for you to worry about: brandjacking.

In hindsight, the threat seems obvious: pranksters and evil-doers posing as legitimate representatives of your brand or company, making mischief (mostly online) while you rush to stop them and limit the damage. This is yet another dark side of the wonders of the Internet, which has empowered so many millions of people with loud and powerful communications tools that past generations could only dream about.

The most recent example: a twitterer who called him/herself Janet posing as an ExxonMobil employee and posting on the company's behalf. Then there are the twitterers posing as the fictional characters from the TV show "Mad Men."
This post suggests there's even some value to marketers in letting their brands be 'jacked.
And this company is trying to make a living monitoring brandjacking and providing solutions.

There isn't any easy tip or answer to this potentially thorny problem. There are so many ways your image or messages can be twisted and abused on the web or in the physical world that you'd be hard pressed to attempt to thwart all attempts. And it's not clear that you have the leverage you need to stop the abuses when they occur, given the decentralized nature of the Internet.

But it's still a marketing development worth noting and studying. Any reader comments on the subject would be welcome.

  • Jon Greer

    Jon Greer has been analyzing media and PR for more than 25 years. He's been a journalist and a PR executive, and has been a featured speaker for many years at the Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit, and served as Bulldog's Editorial Director for their PR University series of weekly how-to audio conferences.

    Jon provides PR services including media relations and freelance writing to clients including start-ups, law firms, corporations, investment banks and venture capital firms. In addition, Jon provides spokesperson training. Learn more about Jon's training programs at The Media Bridge.