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The North Face boasts about, then apologises for, ‘hacking’ Wikipedia

One of the images The North Face used to ‘hack’ Wikipedia (AdAge)

The North Face has apologised for a sly marketing campaign that earned it a fierce backlash on social media.

The rugged outerwear company says it ‘hacked’ Wikipedia by posting some photos of models wearing its clothing at remote locations.

Because Wikipedia is such a powerful site, the photos then became more prominent on Google image results.

Let’s say you typed in: “Península do Cabo” and then hit a Google Image Search, the site would pull the image from Wikipedia showing the beautiful peninsula in South Africa alongside some dude in The North Face clobber.

When the company bragged about its stunt in the form of a video (below), the Wikimedia foundation (and plenty on social media) got a bit angry at them.

‘We hacked the results to reach one of the most difficult places: the top of the world’s largest search engine,’ The North Face said in the video that lays out, step-by-step, how it did it.

Following the outcry, the company released a public apology saying it was sorry and it wouldn’t do it again.

Of course, the initial stunt, the reaction of Wikipedia and the subsequent apology all worked rather well. After all, here we are writing about it.

Anyway, volunteer Wikipedia editors have removed all the images or cropped out any North Face products.


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