There is a trend in public debate to create a "consumer advocacy" group out of thin air. I suppose there is something authentic seeming about "grassroots" opinions. So now, it has become common in public relations for corporate and political campaigns to quietly organize, fund, and even prop up dupes to pose as the "grass". The trendy term for such fronts is "astroturfing"
- Here in Illinois (Rex Grossman for President!) we about to start paying full price for electricity after a mandated freeze. Politicians are sorting themselves out and a helpful "consumer" group has emerged to inform the public about this proposed rate hike.
The commercial, in a foreboding tone, suggests that the lights may go out in Illinois if an electricity rate freeze is extended.
"We don't need a California-style energy crisis in Illinois," cautions a voice representing Consumers Organized for Reliable Electricity.
It may sound like the campaign of a grass-roots consumer group, but it is not.
Consumers Organized for Reliable Electricity gets most of its money from ComEd. CORE, as it is known, is a group of organizations and executives, many with ties to ComEd or the utility industry.
But ComEd's name is nowhere to be seen as the voice-over raises the specter of the disaster to come if the Illinois legislature extends the freeze on electricity rates next week. The commercial has been running on television stations around the state in recent weeks, and full-page ads have been placed in newspapers. [More]
- In New York, PETA is being attacked by a similar "consumer group"
There's a very public PR campaign (full page ads in today's New York Times, billboards in Times Square) attacking PETA. Click on their website and hit about us, and you'll find a link. Two more clicks and you find:The Wikipedia article sheds a bit more light, pointing out that a cigarette company was the initial sponsor of the group and that fast food restaurants are funders as well. Millions of dollars worth of funding from a few giant corporations. [More]
The Center for Consumer Freedom is supported by restaurants, food companies and more than 1,000 concerned individuals. From farm to fork, our friends and supporters include businesses, employees and consumers.
While I'm not crying for PETA, the tactic stinks.The happy part is thanks to search engines, anyone can find out who these groups really are. So when I link to a site and wonder where their info comes from and who is punching the buttons, I always start with the "About Us" page. I also like to Google board members and check financial reports.
As for this doubtful source, I get paid by FJ Media to write this drivel and these opinions and words are my very own (not counting the stuff I stole outright or was too lazy to link).
They aren't that easy to think up either.