Students Conduct PR Scam for Coach Sponsored Class

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(image via gawker)

Both AdWeek and PRWeek covered the Hunter College PR controversy yesterday, which may be have been the first time we’ve ever seen the trades publications both cover the same story in one day.

According to AdWeek, who first broke the news, a PR course at Hunter College in New York, “was funded by a $10,000 grant from Coach and was part of a college outreach campaign by the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC), a trade group that includes Coach and other brands like Apple, Levi Strauss & Co., Louis Vuitton and Rolex.”

This course resulted in the students creating a fake character, Heidi Cee, who “lost” her coach bag and posted fliers all over campus looking for help. Fake blogs, Myspace and Facebook pages were created for fake Heidi, drawing thousands of hits, while interspersing anti-counterfeiting messages from IACC.

Andrew Adam Newman wrote in AdWeek, “One day, Cee blogged that another student had returned the bag. A day later, she wrote that on closer inspection, the bag was a fake and she had been scammed for the reward. Outraged (“EFFING COUNTERFEIT!” she wrote), Cee blogged that she was researching the world of counterfeit goods. She discovered, she wrote, that they’re linked to criminal activity, child labor and terrorism.”

Wow, it’s easier to get college kids to scam people on the internet than we thought.

Of course, it all comes down to money, as some faculty see this as a way to “butter up Coach’s CEO, Lew Frankfort, a Hunter alumnus, who several months later [after the class] donated $1 million to the school.”

One NYC agency CEO told PRNewser, “bad enough that Coach is encouraging obfuscation here, but the fact that apparently no professors or students at Hunter raised a red flag is particularly disturbing…”