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October 01, 2008

Riding the Coattails of Credibility

The expression "riding someone's coattails" is an idiom in American English that means using your connections with someone successful to gain success for yourself. The picture we're supposed to imagine is an influential person entering an exclusive venue in white tie and tails—with someone less deserving being dragged into the exclusive venue by literally standing on the tails of the influential person's coat. I can see the 1930s cartoon scene in my mind already.

The modern-day equivalent is called slipstreaming.

Whatever you call it, I saw a medz spammer doing it today. The following arrived at one of my spamtrap addresses:

Canadian medz spammer message

Although the ad supposedly promotes a place called Canadian Pharmacy (how many hundreds of these—#1 or otherwise—are there?), note that the message claims to have been sent by way of ABCNews Newsletters, complete with CAN-SPAM-compliant mailing address and opt-out link. But ABC News had absolutely nothing to do with this mailing. All links, from the clickable image to the Privacy Policy, point to a newly minted domain whose registration lists a Russian owner (not likely accurate). The web site is hosted in Panama.

As long as the spammer is lying about being a Canadian pharmacy, he might as well go the full distance and lie about the offer being sent from a legitimate news organization, as if ABC News endorses the company. In the meantime, a lot of recipients will think ABC News is a spammer, as ABC News unwillingly rides the spammer's coattails to contempt.

Posted on October 01, 2008 at 08:14 AM