Mr. Perez writes, in response to our previous questions:
I would hardly say ‘unwilling’ – I responed on Wed and Thursday.
Again – we do not hire ‘actors’ as marketers.
We recruit NV fans to help in answering tech questions, test new drivers, give updates, etc. They act as our ‘voice’ if you will.
We do not pay these people. We sometimes give them hardware…but we give out lots of hardware.
We hired AEG to help manage this process – just like a company will hire a PR firm to help with PR. As we can not talk to everyone.
And what do you mean by ‘fully’ disclosing those gifts?
I give press gifts all the time – and its not disclosed…
Like I said – it easier to talk this through vs. email.
The Consumerist feels that it would be more useful to our readers—the same people you’re both marketing to and occasionally giving free products—to talk this through in public, since the public are the very people who are affected by your relations.
So from what we gather, Nvidia does not hire actors to create trusted personas on internet forums. This is a very good thing, and we are glad to hear you clarify that this is not the case.
Instead, Nvidia takes existing trusted users from the web community and gives them free Nvidia hardware in exchange for PR duties.
This brings us to ‘disclosure.’
By giving away free hardware to fans who are not required to disclose the gift—and why should they, as they are not employees or members of the press?—you’ve created a precarious situation for the communities in which these fans are involved.
Without knowing who gets free hardware from Nvidia as a reward and who is simply a fan of the product based on its own merit, it makes it difficult for us to trust the greater Nvidia fan community at large. The very program you’ve instigated to take advantage of goodwill itself poisons the trust we might otherwise have in your fan community.
So speaking of disclosure, an anonymous Consumerist reader writes:
I spoke on the phone with Stephanie at AEG after this story broke in an effort to investigate the situation.
She flat-out told me that AEG actively seeks influential members of message boards to approach for membership in their marketing program.
These members are required to sign a NDA about the program’s very existence.
The recent news I was told by a member of this program is that NVIDIA is now offering them 30″ widescreen LCDs.
This suggests just how much $$$ is being poured into this new outreach effort.
These people are indeed viral marketers, but NVIDIA also expects them to provide the company feedback on the parts they’re given, so I think the company likes to promote this angle as an excuse for the fact that, at the end of the day, it’s still viral marketing.
Ask Perez why AEG requires an NDA from its members preventing them from even admitting that the program even exists!
Mr. Perez, does AEG make the Nvidia marketing program’s participating members sign an non-disclosure agreement when ‘being your voice?’ Would you tell us what they are not disclosing about the program?
And, we mean, 30-inch widescreen LCD monitors? Those cost a couple grand. Are those Nvidia products now, too?
Update:: Mr. Perez called! After informing us that he would be having his legal department contact us for posting his emails, he assured us, among other things, that no members of this program were under NDA from Nvidia or AEG nor were they given any 30-inch LCD monitors for participation in the program. Mr. Perez also attempted to explain to us how marketing works.
We tried to explain to Mr. Perez that if the fan program from Nvidia was as innocuous as he claims, he should have no problem sending us the details of the program, what products are given away to fans to “pass on” information about Nvidia, and who from the community was a participant in the program.
Mr. Perez’s response? “Why does that matter?”
We suppose that if no one else is angry about this, it doesn’t, actually.