Astroturfing according to Wikipedia ‘denotes political, advertising, or public relations campaigns that are formally planned by an organization, but are disguised as spontaneous, popular "grassroots" behavior’.
The idea behind such campaigns is to give the impression that the efforts of an entity, such as a company, have not come from the company but have been launched independently by members of the public.
A good example of this can be found in the efforts of a Montreal based marketing company, Morrow Communications, who were engaged to help prepare for the launch of a new public bike system, and who acknowledged creating a dummy blog falsely pretending to be managed by 3 individuals to promote the use of bicycles in Montreal. They also created videos for the Blog and a Facebook webpage.
The use of Astroturfing in modern day marketing is wide spread and is often used to ‘hype’ a product and as mentioned above the impression that the product has a benefit that is already being talked about by the market at which it is aimed. Another example is where fictitious testimonials are created to support a product or service so as to give the impression it is popular. The downside of this is that one now must be very careful when relying on reviews.
Written by David Pett