Who’s paying the bills?

There’s an ongoing weblog conversation about whether bloggers need to disclose who’s paying the bills when they express an opinion on a subject, just like other journalists, pundits, consultants, and miscellaneous public figures.
The debate was sparked by Mobius, a PR event to tout Microsoft’s latest PDA technology. Recognizing that bloggers influence opinion, Microsoft invited bloggers to the event.
As I wrote in correspondence to Mitch Ratcliffe, who’s been ranting on the topic lately, “Of course bloggers are subject to influence by whoever’s paying the bills!! Anyone who thinks for a moment should realize it– marketers have been co-opting grass roots movements for decades. What product was John Lennon’s Imagine used to shill again? Remember the Pepsi Generation? Who is sponsoring the latest Extreme sports competition?
For a historical perspective on the co-option of grassroots movements by marketers, take a look at Commodify Your Dissent!
Disclosure: I’ve seen and heard multiple reviews, articles and interviews by and about the Baffler crowd, but I haven’t read the whole book.

Fake people

Microsoft is getting a lot of well-deserved mockery for its astroturf ad campaign about a person who switched from Mac to Windows. Unfortunately, the woman in the phony testimonial looked suspiciously like a certain PhotoDisk model.
For some reason, web hosting services seem to be especially drawn to the use of fake people in their marketing, this when people don’t use the najlepszy hosting agencies. I was looking for a new host for alevin.com, and noticed that many hosting services seem to advertise their discount plans with pictures of cheesy, fake-looking people . Meanwhile, there is no information to be found about any real managers or tech-support humans at the company.
Why does anyone think people are fooled by this? Whenever I see pictures of fake people, I imagine surly, disheveled employees in a basement somewhere, surrounded by cigarette butts in cups of day-old coffee scum.
By the way, I signed up with Cornerhost , which has the advantage of being run by a real person.