Astroturfing at the Supermarché

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Filed under: Hype, Spin

Supercherie au Supermarché
August 24, 2009

“Hoax at the supermarket” – A French newspaper headline describing an “astroturfed” photo opportunity involving two government ministers.

supermarche1-200The Times”™s Steven Erlanger reported recently on a photo opportunity gone awry for France”™s education minister, Luc Chatel, and commerce secretary, Hervé Novelli:

Journalists accompanying Mr. Chatel and Hervé Novelli, the secretary of state for commerce, on a trip to an Intermarché supermarket in Villeneuve-le-Roi, southeast of Paris, became suspicious when the aisles were suddenly filled with well-dressed, articulate women eager to praise a government freeze on the price of some school supplies before the new school year began. “¦

The radio station France Inter raised questions, and the newspaper Libération had a detailed article on Wednesday headlined, “Supercherie au Supermarché,” or “Hoax at the Supermarket.” It described how some of the women left the store together in a car after the minister left, without buying anything and leaving their school supplies in shopping baskets.

According to Erlanger, the supermarket, Intermarché, released an apology following the visit, explaining that the supermarket”™s management “took the initiative to invite a certain number of workers for the ministers”™ visit,” and stating that the ministers were not involved in the astroturfing.