If you haven't heard of Gushcloud, it's a Singapore-based blogger outreach network that connects brands with prominent bloggers. Recently, Singaporean blogger Xiaxue published an internal email in
which a Gushcloud account executive encouraged bloggers to conduct a smear campaign on behalf of Gushcloud client SingTel. You can read the email here.
On who's to blame for this and other similar events, Greg Paull, a principal at agency-client relationship consultancy, R3, said: "Agencies are acting on the brand’s behalf… brands need to onboard agencies on the organization’s policies in conduct, ethics, communications and marketing."
We Are Social Regional Managing Partner Simon Kemp added: "It's up to the brand team to work in partnership with agencies to ensure all activities are appropriate before they become public."
That's a bit of a cop out if you ask me. Yes, agencies are acting on behalf of clients but they are also paid to be advisers and to recommend and vet the best course of action for a client's marketing programs. An agency should proactively insure that this sort of ethically questionable behavior doesn't occur and, more importantly, isn't allowed to become standard practice. We already have enough grey area in today's native advertising/content marketing world. If the ad business is to maintain whatever respect and trust it might have left, agencies need to take a lead role to insure these sorts of ethical breaches don't occur.