North Face tried to promote their products by hacking Wikipedia. Leo Burnett Tailor Made, an advertising agency, came up with a plan to get North Face products on the top of Google searches. This involved replacing Wikipedia pictures with their own, featuring their products.
When people are planning on going on a trip, the first step is a Google Search. Wikipedia images from the article are usually the top searches about the destination. North Face took the liberty to travel to popular destinations and retake the photos on Wikipedia but featuring their products, and replaced the photos on Wikipedia. Sometimes they would even just Photoshop their logo onto the existing photos.
North Face bragged about how their plan was so smart. They said, “paying absolutely nothing just by collaborating with Wikipedia.” But they did not collaborate with Wikipedia, they violated Wikipedia’s terms of service for paid advocacy. Wikipedia removed all the replaced photos immediately after the campaign hit Ad Age. They also reported them for violating their terms.
North Face seemed to have been prepared for the negative consequences that they may have gotten from this campaign. Maybe they thought “all publicity is good publicity”, but this campaign makes their company look very deceitful and greedy.