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flog

noun [countable]

a weblog (online journal) which looks like it has been written by a person, but is in fact created by a business as a way of advertising a product or service

flogging

noun [uncountable]

flogger

noun [countable]

'In fact, ask Sony Playstation about the extremely damaging PR experiment they thought they could pull off at the end of last year. They set up a blog supposedly run by two "slacker dudes" intent on getting their hands on a Sony Playstation for Christmas. The flog (fake blog) was in fact run by a few smug Sony agency people who thought they could create a clever hitching post to hang their pre-Christmas hype.'

Marketing Web, South Africa 8th February 2007

'Yet another company has been found guilty of flogging or using fake blogs as a new way to market to consumers.'

Imedia Connection 14th December 2006

It's the 21st century and suddenly everyone's talking about blogs (online journals). Politicians, mechanics, teenagers or housewives, anyone with access to the Internet can become a blogger (a blog writer), cataloguing their daily lives and opinions by blogging (writing blogs), and thus contributing to the ever-expanding blogosphere (online universe of blogging).

it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the capacity of blogs to present ideas and information to a worldwide audience has enormous potential in advertising

As blogging becomes increasingly significant in the daily lives of millions, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that its capacity to present ideas and information to a worldwide audience has enormous potential in advertising – enter the flog, the fake blog, or in other words, a 21st century marketing ploy.

A flog is a webpage which appears to be a perfectly innocent blog featuring the daily experiences and opinions of a particular individual, but is in fact a publicity stunt set up by corporate marketing departments in an attempt to push the products or services of a particular company.

A recent high-profile example of flogging (this is, on the model of blogging, the activity of creating fake blogs, the perpetrators are likewise often referred to as floggers) occurred in December 2006, with a website entitled alliwantforxmasispsp.com (bit of a giveaway there!). The blog (or should I say flog) featured a hip-hop artist called Charlie talking about his cousin Pete's hankering for a Sony PSP. The blog was later revealed to be registered to Zipatoni, a US marketing firm hired by Sony to devise a means of targetting consumers interested in buying a PSP for Christmas.

Background – flog

The term flog is, of course, a blend of the words fake, and blog, the popular contraction of the now less frequently used term weblog. It also cleverly exploits a homographic link with the verb flog in its informal sense of 'to sell'.

As well as establishing a new platform for communicating ideas and opinions, the blog has done a great job of expanding the English lexicon. To keep you up-to-date, here's a snapshot of the ever-evolving blog glossary:

blog noun
a weblog: a web-based diary describing an individual's personal experiences and opinions
Derivatives: blog verb, blogging noun, blogger noun, blogosphere noun

audioblog noun
a blog consisting mainly of music or other audio content
Derivatives: audioblogging noun, audioblogger noun

flog noun
a blog which looks like it has been written by a person, but is in fact created by a business as a way of advertising a product or service. A blend of fake and blog.
Derivatives: flog verb, flogging noun, flogger noun

moblog noun
a blog which can be updated using a mobile device such as a PDA or mobile phone
Derivatives: moblog verb, moblogging noun

phlog (also flog) noun
a photo weblog: a blog consisting mainly of photographs
Derivatives: phlogging noun

splog noun [C]
a blog which deliberately contains links to other websites from which the blogger profits financially or so that these sites will get improved search engine rankings. A blend of spam and blog.
Derivatives: splogging noun, splogger noun

vlog noun [C]
a video weblog: a blog consisting mainly of short pieces of video
Derivatives: vlog verb, vlogging noun, vlogger noun

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 26th March 2007.

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