Thursday, September 16, 2004

MORE ON THE SICK advertisement from El Pais: apparently, they are trying to float the idea that the image is a hoax (link in Spanish).

However, I'd suggest them to talk first to Canalmail, a well known email marketing firm which sent the image on their behalf. Not only the email advertisement comes from their regular address, but the text of the advertisement itself includes a clickable link just in case the recipient can't see the image correctly.

The address is

&" (actually it's one line only but I had to break it in three in order to not break the format of this blog; I changed the username for XXXXs as not to compromise the privacy). When you click on that URL, you land on this screen (the screen capture in two images, since the original was too long):


and two

The image is not of perfect quality (sorry, I'm techno-dumb), but it's clear enough to rule out a hoax. At the very least, it's a serious mistake made by the agency creating the advertisement. But if that's the case, the people at El País can only claim that they didn't know and that it was not authorized (and then we'd have to make an effort to believe them, not that the image is false.

I imagine they'll try to spin it as the usual criminalization of everything that comes from the Internet; you know, the web is full of pirates and paedophiles, and bloggers are those guys who write in their pajamas with no credibility whatsoever.

Just as Dan Rather has been telling since last week. Yeah, that'll work.

I sincerely hope that Canalmail doesn't simply pull the page and make it disappear. They should know that you can't put the toothpaste back into the tube. We got the original emails, and now the screen caps too.

UPDATE. Apparently, the link works even without the user's email address. So you can look it yourselves here (note that it leads to a Canalmail URL; Canalmail is the email marketing company in charge of the campaign). But, even though they have disabled the inline links, if you click on the bottom right "enviar a un amigo" (send this to a friend), you can fill the form -using a fake address if you like- and then it leads to this subscription page at El Pais website. I wonder how long it will take them to disable this too.

UPDATE II. Well, it didn't take long; the link leads to nowhere now. By the way, according to some sources (one, two, both in Spanish) Canalmail has confirmed that it is a genuine campaing for El Pais. The newspaper still hasn't made public its statement about this issue, but these sources say that after flatly denying the veracity of the advertisement, now they "do not deny nor confirm". Like I said, this is more and more Rathergate-ish by the day.

UPDATE III. They took the page down, but Canalmail still has the individual images in an accessible directory where they store all the images they use for the advertisements: Sept. 11, Sept. 12. If you study the URLs carefully, you'll see the directory is "elpais/images".

UPDATE IV (September 17): El Pais, to their credit, has apologized in unequivocal terms. I have moved this to a new post, where you can find all details.