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Legal Site's Buzz-Building Ploy Backfires Badly


And now, for the latest entry in the "What were they thinking" department.

The lawyer-referral site wanted to build buzz for immigration lawyers through a social-media marketing campaign. So it decided that the best way to do that was to poke fun at illegal immigrants and the so-called coyotes who profit by smuggling them across the desert into the United States.

The site created an ad for a made-up iPhone app designed for those "lost and disoriented in the desert." The make-believe app, iCoyote, "packs all of the features of a real immigrant smuggler into the iPhone. Using GPS, navigate through the patrol packed desert without worrying about that pesky Border Patrol."

The app included a variety of features such as:

  • iWife. It "will take care of finding marriage prospects for you. Aggregating and analyzing data from a variety of online sources [to] match you up with only the most promising US Citizen candidates."
  • iLawyer. "Homeland Security is Cracking down. Not to worry. With iLawyer, you can find an attorney to convince the immigration court to grant Asylum Protection. A Green Card is a finger swipe away."
  • Weather Monitors. "The desert can get hot, and trying to cross it when it's 120 degrees is not fun. Get up-to-date weather forecasts to pick the right time and ensure your trip to the US is comfortable and fun-packed."
  • City Statistics. "San Antonio? Albuquerque? Tucson? San Diego? Not sure which is best? Get unemployment statistics, current average wages, cost of living expenses and more. Get the job you want, at the right wage, tax free!"

After the ad was cited on Tuesday by the social-media blog Mashable as "a recipe for PR disaster," the company quickly got the message and took it down. The former iCoyote page now features this message:

iCoyote Ad Has Been Removed

We regret posting the iCoyote social media experiment. Obviously, this campaign did not hit the mark and we apologize to anyone who was offended by the content. Our mission is to help consumers find legal information, and if necessary, with legal counsel and we're continually striving to find creative ways to introduce people to promotes itself as part of the ExpertHub network. What is ExpertHub? "ExpertHub was founded to transform the way professionals advertise online," it explains. Well, it certainly succeeded at that.

Common sense? Too bad there's no app for that.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on October 29, 2009 at 10:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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