Andy Lark understandably takes the position of it's all in good fun. And yeah, to a certain extent, it is. By responding to it we're just giving these brands exactly what they wanted.
Regardless, I am taking the bait. Here is my response I posted at Andy's fine blog.
Andy: It occurs to me that McD's is pleased as punch over all the Google juice they are getting over this. But here are a few thoughts that are more passion than righteousness.
Marketers do something like this and it is harmless fun. PR people do something like this and we're lambasted as being unethical spinmeisters with no soul or intelligence. Phooey.
From there, the fake blog shows a complete misunderstanding of the medium. The technology is designed to create an open, honest dialogue with customers. Fake blogs say "we just want awareness. We just want control over the medium. This is how we do it...by throwing money at a fake blog."
McD, Mazda and the lot of them are getting a response. But why don't they get a better, longer-lasting response by sponsoring blogs? Everyone wants to tap into the potent formula of blog + RSS x search = contagious buzz.™
But marketers are taking the quick route by merely raising our ire. They're cashing in on the speed of the medium when they could spend even less perhaps and really make a positive impact on their brand. GM and Microsoft show us two very different, very good examples.
Blog sponsorship is the best of both worlds for these marketers. They can tap into Blog Power™ and it acknowledges that they understand blogs enough to know their agency cannot, and should not, do it for them.
Everyone wants to be first to get the reward of blogging. Blog sponsorship would seem to be the best of both worlds. It won't make the agencies a lick of money though. So I'm betting we'll continue down the fake path.
OK, I'll exhale now and go get my second cup of coffee. In the meantime, I hope you'll weigh in on this rant.
UPDATE: Per Adrants, it looks like the joke is on me as it relates to the Pepsi blog. But I still think the above rant is relevant and applicable. I just don't have as many examples to point to now.