Off the Media

Hail Corporate: The Increasingly Insufferable Fakery of Brands on Reddit


The best kind of marketing messages are the ones that don’t seem like marketing messages. Because it means that the viewers’ defenses are down.

That may be why the front page of Reddit has become an irresistible target for feel-good messages about brands and businesses. Despite the community’s penchant for skepticism, Costco, Taco Bell (in fact, most of the Yum! Brands) and a handful of startups have all made very conspicuous appearances on Reddit in the last year–not via paid ads, but through what at first glance appear to be organic and genuine discussions by Reddit users.

But are they? Could they really be? As someone responsible for my own fair share of marketing stunts, I am suspicious and cynical—I’ll disclose that right up front. I very well may be seeing signs of undue influence where there is only rule-bending behavior, but then again, I’ve also begun getting requests from clients about the possibility of orchestrating Reddit machinations. So because of this, and because of what I’ve observed behind the scenes, I’ll come out and say it: what’s going on Reddit these days has media manipulation written all over it. Read More