Thursday, May 30, 2019

The North Face apologizes for its Wikipedia hack | Advertising Age

A North Face campaign designed to hack Wikipedia’s system of disclosing paid advocacy has resulted in an apology from the sportswear brand as well as an unflattering update to The North Face’s own Wikipedia page.

Earlier this week, The North Face’s Brazilian office touted a new campaign in which the brand updated the imagery on the Wikipedia pages of popular outdoors destinations to include pictures of athletes wearing the North Face products. The effort was designed to pull the brand to the top of Google search pages without costing the brand a cent. 

But Wikipedia editors and some consumers were outraged at the stunt, which Wikipedia says breaches “the Terms of User for undisclosed paid advocacy.” The North Face issued an apology via Twitter.

Editors of the Wikipedia platform removed the photos, resulting in the North Face’s apology soon after. A spokeswoman for The North Face reiterated the apology and commitment to better Wikipedia training moving forward.

By Thursday morning, the brand’s Wikipedia page was updated with a “Controversies” section. The text now reads, “In May 2019, The North Face's advertising agency Leo Burnett Tailor Made used Wikipedia to try to promote their products in Google search results as part of an advertisement campaign. Their actions violated Wikipedia's term of use on undisclosed paid editing.”


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