College students' PR campaign prompts controversy

A PR campaign designed by students at Hunter College in New York, and sponsored by the Coach fashion label, is coming under criticism for promoting a fake persona complete with a Facebook profile and blog, according to AdWeek.

A PR campaign designed by students at Hunter College in New York ,and sponsored by the Coach fashion label, is coming under criticism for promoting a fake persona complete with a Facebook profile and blog, according to AdWeek. As part of the campaign, which aimed to promote the anti-counterfeiting goals of Coach and the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition, posters that read “Missing – $500 reward!!” with a picture of a student named Heidi Cee, asking for the return of her Coach bag were planted around the campus. Tear-off tabs included Cee's phone number and addresses to her blog, MySpace page, and Facebook profile.

An elaborate story describing how a fake bag was returned instead of her real one ensued. The nonexistent Cee then turned to blogging about fake designer bags and linking them to child labor and terrorism.

According to AdWeek, red flags are now flying at the campus, with most of the criticism coming from PR pros, which say this campaign lacks truthfulness and transparency. This campaign also “serves as the latest illustration of how a buzz-seeking stunt may backfire," the article says.

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