PR Fail: ‘Baby-Naming Site’ Just Made the Whole Damn Thing Up

Today in Did They Really Think This Would Work news, the “baby-naming website” Belly Ballot just admitted that its “let the Internet name your baby and win free money” promotional stunt, which managed to get a lot of media attention last week, wasn’t even remotely true.

Thanks to a tipster with a guilty conscience and some investigative journalism on behalf of The Today Show‘s Moms blog, we now know that the woman named as the winner of the $5,000 contest is a professional actress–and she’s not even pregnant.

A “struggling single mom” named Natasha Hill supposedly won after submitting an essay about why she should be the one to let the wi-fi equipped public name her baby and claim the $5,000 prize. If the name turned out to be something lame like Aiden or Facebook? “There’s always a nickname.

But there was no contest. There were no contestants. There was no baby.

This was a kindergarten-level PR stunt designed to gain media attention–and it did. Dozens of media outlets including Saturday Night Live mentioned it.

The worst part about the story? The guilty parties now say they “never thought” that the story would get this big–they just promoted it to every media outlet they could think of and apparently never considered the fact that they would eventually be caught in the lie.

Here’s the site’s selling point: You, the user, enter five of your favorite prospective names for your offspring–and let all your friends and family tell you which ones they like best via social media. Who would participate in this strange game? We’re not sure–but it turns out that no mom-to-be was dumb enough to let the Internet pick her baby’s name for her.

And that was today’s lesson in how NOT to pull off a successful PR stunt.