BzzAgent: Word-of-Mouth

When I first heard about BzzAgent I immediately signed-up because I wanted to know how the hell are they going to do this?
They were recently featured in The New York Times.
In short – BzzAgents are ordinary people that self-qualify and sign up to receive free samples and information and then perhaps – maybe – talk up, email up, blog up the product in question. It’s contrived word-of-mouth – reducing chit-chat and sometimes even family conversations to a marketing message. But is it only contrived because the impulse is coming from the company itself and with trying to mask the marketing message as an authentic interaction…?
On Metafilter reaction (my usual barometer for snarkiness and wit) was mixed but included Quonsar’s nugget:

in a society that worships consumption, this is like becoming a martyr for allah or one of god’s saints. for surely they will be welcomed in paradise and showered with glorious possessions for service toward advancing the kingdom.

or

Was anyone else simply stunned that these people charge about $100,000 to get random schmucks to shill their products for free? I mean, wow… I’m in awe. If this wasn’t so creepily dystopian, I would applaud these guys for a week for so neatly scamming the corporations.

plus

This doesn’t surprise me in the least. I mean, it’s the next logical step for people who have been paying for t-shirts with slogans (Nike, X Beer, etc.) for years.

Hell – gay guys in chat rooms use brand names to describe their stats to ease in hooking up (Abercrombie, CK, etc).
Isn’t this just the annoying multi-level-marketing dressed up for the new millenium?
Have I just been reading too much Adbusters and Naomi Klein lately?

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