Lots of gadget sites are up in arms over Motorola’s astroturfing their next garbage cellphone, and for good reason. For those not familiar, astroturfing is the practice of sending out paid product marketers — primarily onto the web and into the blogosphere — to anonymously communicate with audiences as though they’re consumers / fans / whatever. It’s one of the most base and (typically) transparent means of trying to drum up “word of mouth” support.

What companies rarely realize, however, is that astroturfing is a myth, one which I’ve never heard of working to do anything except unravel companies’ reputations (see: Sony, Wal-Mart, and many, many more). Astroturfing is a concept that’s easily sold to gullible businesses (like Motorola) who are desperate for new, out-of-the-box ways to “engage with consumers” (i.e. get people to buy their products). But the truth is this: quality will always out. The internet itself has done more to ensure people are well informed than any single consumer advocacy group, and any idea that might spread virally is inherently too worthy and kinetic to funnel from a small, clumsy, group of phony commenter-consumer-bloggers.

Someone should let the folks over at DEI Worldwide, Inc., know this though, as they’re the ones behind Motorola’s assault. The IPs associated with the comments (and numerous others) came from, an address belonging to DEI, a marketing company which specializes in “engaging consumers online,” and which counts among its clients — you guessed it — Motorola.

Now, are you ready for the real kicker in all this? Remember how I mentioned Wal-Mart, which was astroturfed by PR mega-firm Edelman back in 2006? At the time, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) issued a release, stating:

“the lack of disclosure… is a violation of WOMMA’s Code of Ethics, which requires honesty and full disclosure in all marketer-sponsored communications. … Such transgressions… are of grave concern to WOMMA, which has led the fight for high ethical standards in word of mouth marketing and social media. Our Ethics Code sets clear guidelines for disclosure by marketers.”

That’s certainly an interesting position, considering the fact that DEI Worldwide’s CEO, David Reis, is a power-player in the marketing world and one of the co-founders of WOMMA. I’ll let that sink in for a minute.

Surely in the spirit of honesty and full disclosure, Reis appears to have posted his personal contact information online, should you have any misgivings about companies misleading consumers in their marketing efforts. (Reis also claims to be a black belt, so if you spot me with a black eye, you know who did it!)