NORTH FACE DEFACES WIKIPEDIA
We’ve all been there: sat at your desk or on the sofa, browsing images of far away destinations, planning your next trip. This week outdoor clothing brand North Face took advantage of our wanderlust by ‘hacking’ destination pages on Wikipedia and replacing its images with product placement shots of North Face gear. Culminating in the brand releasing a video showing just how they did it.
The whole purpose of the stunt was to get North Face branded pictures to the top of Google image searches, as Wikipedia photographs often come up first in results.
Unsurprisingly, Wikipedia weren’t exactly pleased about the North Face stunt, and moderators quickly removed the images, or cropped them to remove the North Face branding. In its video North Face claimed that it ‘collaborated’ with Wikipedia to get to the top of Google searches without paying any hefty costs. Wikipedia retaliated by saying that the stunt violated its terms of service for paid advertorial and likened it to “defacing public property.” North Face have since apologised and ended the campaign.
We think that North Face missed the mark in terms of creating an impactful guerrilla campaign, and unfortunately the celebratory nature of the video only angered Wikipedia and consumers. We’re taking this as a reminder that true collaboration involves consent from all parties involved… A lesson North Face hopefully won’t forget any time soon!