H ackers Say “No” to the EmmaYouAreNext Publicity Stunt
Marketing firm “Rantic Media” played a risky game on Thursday (the quotation marks are well-deserved – more on this later).
Following the leaked nude photos of dozens of celebrities, Rantic posed as an anonymous hacker who had similarly compromising photos of actress Emma Watson. But when time came to release the photos, eager internet trolls were disappointed to find themselves at Rantic’s website reading about the evils of 4chan, and the need to close the site down.
No doubt, the marketing company didn’t expect these visitors to become converts. The real audience was news media, who would trumpet the firm’s message after hearing about the stunt. For a few hours, things went according to plan. Then the internet knocked them down.
The publicity hounds received the attention of some talented hackers who didn’t take kindly to the message of internet censorship. In place of Rantic Media’s call to arms was the Anonymous creed:
we are legion
we do not forgive
we do not forget
They also left this charming photo.
The publicity stunt not only did a questionable job of raising issue awareness, it also diverted attention to the originator of the stunt. Within hours of the reveal, internet sleuths had turned their critical eye on Rantic Media. The marketing company’s Twitter account was suspiciously new (with only a few tweets posted this month) and the CEO didn’t actually seem to exist.
Rantic’s own dubitable origins didn’t stop them from temporarily managing to hijack the news cycle. Major publications from the UK to Sydney followed the hoax, but the murky message and reveal left each newspaper creating their own takeaways. For the actual marketing companies out there, it also serves as a cautionary tale: never let your own name become more important than your client’s.