e-tractions’ flack attack

In the game of life, public relations professionals just took another hit. This bashing, though, comes not from the poison pen of the technology press, but from a Web site modeled after the carnival game “Whack-A-Mole.”

“Whack-A-Flack,” a comical offering from one-to-one Web marketers e-tractions, invites journalists and tech marketers to happily “whack” PR firms with paper airplanes. Over a six-week period, more than 18,000 visitors took aim at the “clueless,” “arrogant” “butt-kissers” in PR.

Receiving nasty whacks were the big dogs such as Brodeur, Edelman, Alexander Ogilvy, Hill & Knowlton and Burson-Marsteller. “I think the firms were chosen based on name recognition,” says Burson managing director Peter Himler, who describes the site as a bit of a “cliché.”

None of the 20-odd firms emerged unscathed, although those in the “winners” column included PAN Communications, Lois Paul & Partners, Middleberg Communications and Sterling Hager. Even there, it seems a small victory. “You can’t take it too seriously,” says PAN director Jackie Sagl. “It’s all in fun.”

While it may seem a little mean, the game was created to generate buzz about e-tractions and the power of viral marketing. “Throwing paper airplanes at each other is not damaging or threatening,” says company CEO Michael Gauthier. “A little release isn’t a bad thing.” DON FARRALL/PHOTO DISCIAN WALDIE/NEWSCOM