Mainstream media outlets across the blogosphere and beyond have been blowing up all week with stories of Jonathan’s Card, a crowdsourced pay-it-forward experiment involving cell phones, good cheer, and free super automatic shots of espresso. Turns out it’s all a bunch of hooey. For proof, have a look at this brilliantly researched, must-read investigative piece from Andrew Hetzel at Coffee Business Strategies:
One can understand my immediate skepticism when learning that a new, more technologically advanced unsolicited outpouring of love for Starbucks is now burning up tech blog sites on the Internet; it took me about 30 seconds using Google to become more skeptical.
Mr. Stark is quoted on his website and many of the articles surrounding the promotion as saying:
For the record, Jonathan’s Card, Jonathan Stark (me), this site, or anything else I’ve ever said or done is totally not affiliated with Starbucks.
Problem is, Mr. Stark is prominently employed by an internet PR and app firm called Mobiquity Inc. This unfortunately named company – seriously, “Mobiquity” sounds like a Dilbert joke – currently counts Starbucks among its elite list of clients for whom they provide “superior mobile solutions”. Andrew Hetzel has the screen caps to prove it:
All traces of this image have since been scrubbed from the internet, and Mobiquity cleared its Google Cache shortly after Mr. Hetzel’s post went live on Monday afternoon.
Goodwill and altruism in the name of free espresso is one thing, but duping journalists – including CNN, Technorati, and Eater National – is quite another. If you think the Vice President of Application Architecture at Mobiquity Inc. does this sort of work for fun, earning a pre-existing client massive exposure across all forms of media without their compensation or involvement, well, we’ve got a double brownie chunk frappuccino we’d like to sell you. Let the feedback loop begin.