"Outsource Your Marketing, Outsource Your Reputation and Ethics" Applies To Every Industry

Gaming

Bad marketing is one of our favorite topics here at Popehat, and one of our favorite precepts about marketing is Eric Turkewitz's "outsource your marketing, outsource your ethics," to which we generally add ". . . and your reputation." Though we generally discuss this concept in the context of bad legal marketing — for instance, legal comment spam — the principle applies to every industry.

Today's example: an truly epic flameout by Ocean Marketing.

Ocean Marketing is apparently responsible for marketing and distributing a ludicrous-looking X-Box 360 controller. A guy named Paul Christoforo is apparently the head of Ocean Marketing. On his LinkedIn profile, Paul has this to say about his company:

Our professional, highly skilled staff has the knowledge and expertise to help your business increase exposure on major search engines and portals.

Paul's right about the "increased exposure" part, though perhaps not in the way that his customers anticipate. John Biggs at TechCrunch has the story. In brief, when a customer complained about this controller not shipping by Christmas, and suggested he would complain to various tech sites, Paul Christoforo reacted with a bizarre rant, including the following:

You just got told bitch … welcome to the real internet check kotaku in 2 weeks when they are reviewing free PS3 Avengers we send them as well as G4 and all the other majors hell yeah , don’t forget to check Amazon, gamestop.com, play n trade , Myers , Frys and a ton of other local stores coming your way you think you speak for billions son your just a kid you speak for yourself no one cares what you think that’s why were growing and moving 20-50 thousand controllers a month. We do value our customers but sometimes we get children like you we just have to put you in the corner with your im stupid hat on.

When the customer included Mike Krahulik of Penny Arcade (one of the most prominent figures in gaming culture) in the thread, Paul Christoforo doubled down, insulting Mike in a rather deranged fashion:

OK Mike whatever you say lol , are you sure hour not in Boston I spoke to the person who ran the show in Boston last year. If you let some little kid influence you over a pre order then we don’t want to be a your show ,Ill be on the floor anyway so come find me , I’m born and raised in Boston I know the people who run the city inside and out watch the way you talk to people you never know who they know it’s a small industry and everyone knows everyone. Your acting like a douchbag not that it matters pax east pax west , e3 , CES , Gamer Con , SSXW ,Comic Con, Germany I’m all over the place.

Penny Arcade posted the exchange, and it has gone viral, appearing at Kotaku and all over the place. Paul Christoforo had already doubled down, so I guess you could say what came next was quadrupling down: when someone at IGN demanded that he stop citing them for support, he lashed out and suggested that he expected good reviews because he had sent free copies of the controller to them:

In short, Christoforo showed he had learned nothing from BrandLink's skirmish with The Bloggess.

Penny Arcade's story has been slammed all day. It's gone live on Reddit. It's all over the place on Twitter, where Christoforo maintains an account called @oceanmarketting [sic]. The result is not merely extraordinarily bad publicity to Ocean Marketing and its client over this incident, but widespread inquiries into past incidents — like a prior incident of Christoforo acting like a douchebag towards a customer, and inquisitors determining that Ocean Marketing, supposed SEO and web experts, are using a template for their site (and an ass-ugly one, I might add).

There are no lessons here for the Paul Christoforos of the world. Paul Christoforo and his ilk are uneducable. However, if you run a business, there is a lesson for you: when you outsource your marketing, you hand your reputation and ethics over to someone who may or may not be just like Paul Christoforo. Now, not every marketeer is like Paul. But can you tell the difference up front? Do you know how to supervise your outside marketeer? When you wake up one morning after the Christmas holiday and find your company or product in the center of an internet shitstorm caused by your deranged marketeer, do you have a strategy for repairing your reputation?

Remember: outsource your marketing, outsource your reputation and ethics.

Edit: Possible plagiarism, too! What a shocker!

Edit 2: Looks like Paul closed the @oceanmarketting account and someone else snatched it up.

Edit 3: One source reports a conversation with Paul, in which he suggests this is no big deal and will all blow over, after which he offers an apology to the customer. It's likely to be too little too late — also, I'd point out that Paul's claim that he doesn't normally get into these communications with customers, and this was a one-time loss of temper, is contradicted by the earlier incident discussed above.

Edit 4: An apology to Penny Arcade. Sort of. "I didn't know how big your site was" is saying, in effect, "I now regret I picked on someone with power, instead of just the weak."

Edit 5: Caught on tape!

Note my update about his "apologies," and comment on "internet justice."

Last 5 posts by Ken White

37 Comments

36 Comments

  1. Turk  •  Dec 27, 2011 @9:59 am

    Seems he has a real handle on that whole #SocialMedia thing. But why did you go so easy on him?

  2. Ken  •  Dec 27, 2011 @10:01 am

    Sometimes all you need to do is point and say "look."

  3. Ken  •  Dec 27, 2011 @10:06 am

    By the way, Mike's "I’m glad you like it [Penny Arcade]! You will be on it tomorrow:)" is good, but not as good as The Bloggess' epic "stand by for a demonstration of relevance."

  4. Wilhelm Arcturus  •  Dec 27, 2011 @10:47 am

    Ocean's web site clearly says, "Integrity and honesty are at the core of our business values." Somehow the part about, "but we won't let that get in our way if an opportunity seems ripe… or if either seems mildly inconvenient at any given moment" got left off.

    I did especially like the part in the exchange where Paul encourages Dave to cancel his pre-orders so that Paul might sell them on eBay. Real class.

  5. Chris  •  Dec 27, 2011 @10:48 am

    Taint sniffing is still the best of all.

  6. Tim  •  Dec 27, 2011 @11:16 am

    Seems he has changed his Twitter account to @oceanstratagy. Yes, stratAgy. This guy needs a dictionary.

  7. Ken  •  Dec 27, 2011 @11:24 am

    Could that be a satirical account?

  8. Tim  •  Dec 27, 2011 @11:28 am

    Nope. All of his previous tweets have moved to it.

  9. MichaelHaneline  •  Dec 27, 2011 @11:59 am

    "Seems he has changed his Twitter account to @oceanstratagy. Yes, stratAgy. This guy needs a dictionary"

    Maybe the second A stands for asshat?

  10. Ophelia Benson  •  Dec 27, 2011 @12:14 pm

    Funny funny funny. I love it that flameout types go into PR and marketing. Such a good fit! [collapses in uncontrollable hilarity]

  11. SPQR  •  Dec 27, 2011 @12:38 pm

    Another lesson in the old adage that you can't fix stupid.

  12. EH  •  Dec 27, 2011 @1:24 pm

    It will indeed blow over, as proven by Charlie Sheen's career trajectory over the past year.

  13. EH  •  Dec 27, 2011 @1:26 pm

    And I have to say it's pretty smart to use spelling nazis as an engine to keep the company and product in the headlines. What, was your mom going to buy one of these controllers or something?

  14. Dwight Brown  •  Dec 27, 2011 @1:58 pm

    "…he suggests this is no big deal and will all blow over"

    Just out of curiosity, does anyone know what Judith Griggs is up to these days?

  15. Ken  •  Dec 27, 2011 @2:00 pm
  16. Wilhelm Arcturus  •  Dec 27, 2011 @2:19 pm

    I just saw that steroid piece on Kotaku. I fear we are all going to know a lot more about Paul when this is over than he ever expected.

  17. Turk  •  Dec 27, 2011 @2:36 pm

    And it gets even better…in a bid to reverse all the negative publicity….wait for it…

    ….wait for it…

    …wait for it….

    he has suggested a lawsuit against Penny Arcade is in his mind. That was worth waiting for, no?

    Here it is…
    When I brought up the posts on Reddit that discussed the emails, and the backlash that was visible there, [Paul Christoforo] more or less shrugged it off. He seemed annoyed by the amount of friend requests he’d received on Facebook, since someone managed to find him. He credited that to the fact that his information was posted at the bottom of the Penny Arcade piece, and said that he’d be talking to his lawyers about that later today.

    http://gamerfront.net/2011/12/ocean-marketing-a-study-on-how-to-destroy-your-reputation-with-just-a-few-emails/15199

  18. Josh  •  Dec 27, 2011 @2:56 pm

    A lawsuit? Really? Oh, man…break out the popcorn. This just keeps getting better and better!

  19. Jag  •  Dec 27, 2011 @3:07 pm

    The sad part is this controller was created by a teacher who was just trying to help out his disabled students.

    http://miami.cbslocal.com/2011/04/15/inventive-teacher-gives-disabled-student-control/

  20. Windypundit  •  Dec 27, 2011 @4:05 pm

    Oh, I hope he comes here, I hope he comes here, I hope he comes here…

  21. Ken  •  Dec 27, 2011 @4:07 pm

    Because I would be cordial and supportive?

  22. Mark Draughn  •  Dec 27, 2011 @4:45 pm

    Yes, and you wouldn't be at all sarcastic.

  23. SPQR  •  Dec 27, 2011 @7:05 pm

    Evidently there is unsnorted taint available … and its not just Ken's.

  24. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 27, 2011 @7:22 pm

    There is no part about this story that I don't find awesome…

    Especially the part about Paul (and what appears to be his one-man firm) no longer repping for the makers of the controller accessory.

  25. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 27, 2011 @7:36 pm

    There's a bit from the last e-mail between Mike and Paul that I want to highlight…

    Your sites amateur at best my son could put together a better site than yours and you run PAX ?? Wow , Ill put my marketing team on a smear campaign of you and your site and your emails , I have about 125 dedicated people to run PR , Blogs , Articles , Videos you have no clue who I am . Thanks again.

    First off, 125 people? I find that unlikely.

    Second, he's insulting THEIR website? HAHAHAHAHA

    No, I suspect that Mike used Google (I bet he Googles like a motherfucker), and knew exactly who Paul was. Paul's ignorance about PAX (pax west? Really?) and PA just make the explosion all the better.

    Yeah, he's only sorry because he managed to accidentally go off on someone with a sounding board that PR firms would kill for.

    I wonder – would N-Control have a cause of action to recover possible monetary losses due to this guy's raging incompetence?

    And is Steroid use illegal? If so, who do I call to point the cops in Paul's direction?

  26. VPJ  •  Dec 27, 2011 @8:33 pm

    I see someone's career dissipation light going into high gear.

  27. tabstop  •  Dec 28, 2011 @3:36 am

    The Twitter name may have changed, but no one's (yet) managed to change all the links on the Ocean website. OTOH, he may want the new guy to be handling his Twitter for him….

  28. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 28, 2011 @9:54 am

    God, his message 7 hours after his threat of a lawsuit of "You have the power Mike Please make it stop" STILL makes me cackle.

    And a 38-year old man used "wurd up" "bro" and "You just got told bitch" without any hint of irony. Nothing that happens to this man is undeserved.

  29. Bob  •  Dec 28, 2011 @12:24 pm
  30. Cy  •  Dec 28, 2011 @1:03 pm
  31. Ken  •  Dec 28, 2011 @2:11 pm

    A history of being accused of it once. Not the same as a history of it.

  32. Scott Jacobs  •  Dec 28, 2011 @2:37 pm

    If that was the ONLY time he hit her, I'll blow a donkey.

  33. SPQR  •  Dec 28, 2011 @3:43 pm

    Careful Scott, promises like that can make us start searching for a donkey … ;-)

  34. VPJ  •  Dec 28, 2011 @3:50 pm

    Uh oh…now Ol' Number Seven's getting all excited.

  35. Tam  •  Dec 29, 2011 @7:44 am

    Do not trifle with someone who creates internet memes for a living, for all your base certainly will belong to him.

  36. I Got Bupkis, Fomenter of "small-l" libertarianism  •  Jan 1, 2012 @5:10 am

    >>> It will indeed blow over, as proven by Charlie Sheen’s career trajectory over the past year.

    Not really comparable. It takes talent (which Sheen has in spades) to overcome such quickly.

    When you had to do a long slow drag of your semi-competent ass to a certain position, then your incompetence takes you down, you have to start that long, slow drag allllll overrrrr aaaaaagain…

    It's really hilarious how stupid people working in a service industry can be. Really.

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