BzzAgent and jumping sharks

The more I watch BzzAgent, the more the idea, the company, and their attitude turns my stomach. In a recent Community Guy podcast, Chris, Lee and I round table discussed BzzAgent as a concept. None of us were all that impressed with the concept. In my opinion the company, under the premise of helping their client better understand consumers, does nothing more than help build taller, thicker walls between the company and consumer.

Recently, when BzzAgent hooked up with Creative Commons, there was a bit of a blow up when Balter posted Bloggers as Liars.

With this type of reporting (whining?), it’s no wonder many consumers are going back to reading fact-checked business magazines.

How long until consumers hold bloggers up to the same standards of truth as they’d expect from word-of-mouth interactions?

Excuse me, I need to pause a second until I stop laughing out loud. OK, back.

This from the guy who started an entire company dedicated to the practice of creating false, designed word of mouth? But wait, there’s more.

He then posted an open letter to Lawrence Lessing, who had requested feedback on the CC deal. From this letter, Dave says:

As a marketer, I?m angry at the fact that I?ve learned to filter out 95% of the 3,000 ads I see each day. I?ve learned to not believe what I see on tv or in print. I?ve been trained to wonder about product placement and celebrity endorsement at every turn. We wonder if there?s a world where marketers can utilize honest opinions instead of tag lines.

So his way of addressing this problem is to try to create an environment that further allows old-school thinking companies to continue to build walls between themselves and their consumers. To create an environment where in addition to not trusting ads, companies, and marketing in general, we’ll not be able to trust our friends either? That is how he proposes to fix the problem?

I also love that Dave builds a business on the backs of the online blogging community, then gets upset when the spotlight is turned on him.

I’m not saying anything new. Others are saying the same thing. And like most self-created PR disasters, once the tide turned for Dave, he posted an apology, of sorts. (And Suw, who kicked off this tirade of Dave’s, has accepted the apology. It’s worth reading)

I’m on the front lines of community wrath every day. Today was such a day. But that’s the job. It’s your job not to loose your cool. Dave went ballistic and called the blogging community “liars” because the don’t use fact checkers, then barely apologized. He started a company based on an ethically questionable concept, and simply has to expect that it’s going to be a rough go.

Whatever, Dave. Whatever.

By the way, I’ve signed up and tried the process of BzzAgents. I’m not speaking without research. I tried it. I don’t like it. As the Cluetrain Manifesto said so well – Markets are Conversations. When I was doing my BzzCampaign, where was my conversation with the company I was buzzing?



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