Consumerist; Brand Killer, Tabloid

In a recent Brandchanel piece, Abram Sauer posits there are four states of mind for viewing Gawker blogs, different states positions ways to view Gawker blogs, “uncaring unfamiliarity,” fanboysim, playa haterism, and fear. Sauer writes “ has the most fear-provoking potential. This is because is a brand killer. “

Aw, shucks, you’re making us blush in our pants.

He also points out that we posted a story about Dell putting keyloggers in its laptops, which turned out to be false. Even though our lede reads, “We won’t pretend to be technosavvy enough to know if this is a valid interpretation of looking at a Dell laptop’s still steaming bowels,” Sauer found our note admitting our misstep was “very minor.” As in, we failed to a prominent enough of a correction.

Ok. Deep breath here.



Frome Snopes: “the specific tale presented above is nothing more than an example of “government conspiracy” type hoaxlore. It originally appeared on, a site which carried several other obvious hoaxes…The graphics for the article were lifted from another site’s page about commercial keyboard loggers, and the purported letter from the Department of Homeland Security appears to be an altered version of someone else’s example of correspondence from the DHS. “

Dell obviously has much more important things to worry about than our posting of year-old misinformation. Things like exploding laptops atop ammo boxes.

Color me redacted.

Brand killer, while sexy, is also wrong. Our goal is to get companies to act better, not to destroy capitalism. Capitalism is awesome and it puts foods in our bellies. But if your brand is built on offering crappy products and bilking consumers and then ignoring them when they complain, maybe your brand should die.

If you’re full of hidden fees, if you’re going to offer bad service but advertise how great it is, if you’re going teach your employees to screw customers over and then deny culpability when you’re exposed and blame it all on one employee, brand death is deserved.

Fine. We’ll wear the suit, with an ease put in: bad. The brands we want to kill are the bad ones.


Edit Your Comment

  1. bambino says:

    Seriously, the un-edited nature of this post hurts my brain.

  2. AcilletaM says:

    I suppose the majority of the comments saying that was a bogus story was minor also.

  3. RandomHookup says:

    It’s a shame. Someone is already cybersquatting at

  4. Ben Popken says:

    I think Abram just won our t-shirt contest.

  5. Ben Popken says:

    P.S. The great thing about blogs is that not only is it easy to get things wrong, it’s insanely easy to get them right. The “minor note” was added within a few hours and on the post itself, which is hardly the case with say, a newspaper.

  6. bambino says:

    ^ Word

  7. Emrikol says:

    How do we know you’re not lying in this one? Fed by the fnordic machine that is Dell? It’s a bloody conspiracy I tell you!

  8. SigSauer says:

    I think that the brand killer comment is taken a little out of context. By itself it does sound, well, homicidally sexy, like that guy you shouldn’t date but can’t help yourself.

    But Consumerist IS a brand killer. There is no statement about Cist killing good or bad brands, just that it has the potential power to kill a brand. And power, responsibility, Spiderman blah blah blah.

    The keylogging anecdote was meant to illustrate the potential for damage. I think we can all agree that Dell’s doing a fine job of hanging itself without Cist’s further help. You’ll also note that there is a section immediately following re: the Chicago Tribune and Apple that basically demonstrates that traditional media can do just as much damage.

    Whether Cist’s consumer activism is good or bad will always depend on the perspective of the reader. Brand owners will probably never see consumerist as “fair,” as they’re wont to control every aspect of consumer perception (which is half the give-take communication that defines what a brand is). The article was probably aimed at a different readership than Cists’s.

    The truth is that a much scarier part of my piece (to that readership) has gone uncommented on yet completely proven: “Gawker Media’s approach to reportage makes it especially difficult to pin down or combat on any common ground. This is due to its humorous, sarcastic dismissal of any takers.”

    BTW, don’t blush in your pants, gawker there.

  9. Ben Popken says:

    Abram, thanks for responding and putting your article in context for us and for our readers. Blogs! Conversations! Yay!

    Although I really hope “Cist” doesn’t catch on as our new nickname.

  10. AcilletaM says:

    Cist – a vesicle of pro-consumerism that corporate America wishes it could remove.

  11. You’re also a brand builder. Look at the Oozinator. I wouldn’t have known its existence without Consumerist.

    [Cist sounds grody].

  12. RandomHookup says:

    This is due to its humorous, sarcastic dismissal of any takers.

    I had an extremely rude retort to this, but I’ll let it pass this time.

  13. AcilletaM says:

    I think that because Gawker media is web-based and real-time, it is easier to argue with. All media has potential for damage. With a blog like the Cist there can be more transparency to the process though. A post is added and then commented on, i.e. instant feedback. I think the Dell anecdote also shows this. The post was corrected because of the comments made. Someone searching for ‘Dell’ and ‘key logging’ who found this article would have also seen the discussion and the retraction. If this was normal print media, the retraction, if any, would be buried somewhere in the next edition or if it was the local TV news it would be mentioned after sports and weather. Your ability to comment on this post about your article is an argument against your assertion.

    But if you are saying that people can’t argue against the statement that Paul LoDuca is a whore, well, that’s an argument where nobody wins.

  14. Brand killer? Well. You certainly applied it directly to AOL’s forehead, but it was going to happen enventually anyway.

  15. Mr. Gunn says:

    OK, if it’s so easy to correct blog entries, how about correcting this one? It hurts to look at.