Brandjacking by fake review

By Quentin Langley

Two related stories here.

First, the New York Attorney General is to clamp down on search engine optimisation companies which pay people to write fake reviews of products.

Second, academic research at MIT and Northwestern suggests that significant numbers of people are writing fake reviews of products for their own reasons. These reviews are overwhelmingly hostile. This does not appear to relate to previous stories on Brandjack News, including people writing satirical reviews – such as for the Bic For Her pens. These people appear to be freelance brand advocates.

This seems very odd. Why would a person who is an enthusiast for a brand Рas many of the negative reviewers seem to be, judging by both prior and subsequent purchase history Рbe likely to submit highly negative reviewers? These reviewers are significantly more negative about products they have not purchased than they are about the products they have purchased. It seems to be that people are living the cliché that your best friend is your harshest critic. People are reviewing products in order to improve them because they love the brand.

One line I would like to see investigated is this: are people loyal to one version of the brand and thus negatively reviewing another version? Might a Coke lover submit an excessively harsh review of New Coke not through disliking the product but as a way of asserting love for the traditional line? Might an admirer of Pierce Brosnan's portrayal of James Bond feign an excessive loathing of Daniel Craig in order to boost Brosnan's status. Certainly, in tribal fields such as sports and politics loving one brand is best demonstrated by loathing of another.

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