‘Badvertising:’ Lenovo Leads by Example
Far too often, marketing and advertising are slandered and given a bad image in the public eye, with little to no good reason for it. However, once in a blue moon, there's a case where advertising is in the wrong — unfortunately shockingly so. The most recent culprit is home computer manufacturer Lenovo, which was recently discovered to be shipping products with pre-installed adware, which exposed users to a dangerous security breach.
"The goal was to improve the shopping experience using their visual discovery techniques," said a Lenovo press release about the incident. While Lenovo claimed that the Superfish software was pre-installed as a means to "provide a great user experience for our customers," internet security researchers quickly learned that the service used a "man in the middle" attack to break commonly used security protocol HTTPS everywhere a Lenovo user went online.
When word of this started circulating on tech blogs and forums, the reaction was swift and harsh — but also necessary. As much as we may not like it when advertising and marketing gets slammed, it's sometimes needed. "Badvertising" and efforts of this type must be weeded out to preserve the reputations of legitimate digital marketers. There are already plenty of reputable display ad services that can be used without harming consumers; Superfish was not only extraneous, but harmful as well. Lenovo was right, in theory: online marketing should provide fantastic user experiences, and help consumers find what they need painlessly. However, its zeal at trying to accomplish that would ultimately prove to be Lenovo's undoing.