Under fire ... YouTube blogger Nate "Blunty' Burr.
An Australian YouTube blogger has admitted he didn't tell the "whole truth" when he posted a video he shot last week giving publicity to a BlackBerry stunt outside Sydney's flagship Apple store, which attracted more than half a million views.
The blogger, Nate 'Blunty' Bur, originally suggested he just happened to be there with his camera at the right time, but in one of his latest videos Bur came clean, saying he was tipped off about the time, date, and place the stunt would unfold a week before it occurred.
He conceded he signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with BlackBerry's maker Research in Motion promising not to reveal that he knew more about the stunt than he initially spoke of. "Yes I was involved with it," he said.
"No I wasn't paid to be a shill for Blackberry."
Blunty has over 110,000 subscribers. Popular YouTube users are regularly recruited to promote brands, but it often damages their reputation with followers.
Being involved in the stunt without disclosing it in the first instance has caused some of Burr's viewers to bring into question his credibility, asking why he would let himself be used for spreading the message of a marketing stunt.
In defending his decision to promote the stunt, Burr claimed to have not misled viewers of the original video in which he told the story of stumbling across a protest (later discovered to have been created by BlackBerry maker RIM) outside Sydney's flagship Apple store after buying a new product there. The stunt involved paid protesters yelling "wake up" with the same word written on signs they were holding outside the store.
"I never lied, I never claimed I was there by coincidence," Burr said, despite suggesting in the original video that the stunt may have been tied in someway to a new Apple iPhone voice-activated Siri feature when he knew full well it wasn't.
"I just said this is the thing that's happened. I was at the Apple store and then these people arrived and [did] this thing ... I never said I didn't know why they were there. I never said I was there by pure coincidence and serendipity. I didn't tell you the whole truth because I was under an NDA and I wanted to see how people reacted..."
YouTube user hmm1488 wrote in the comment section of Burr's latest video that Burr "clearly tried to mislead the viewer" when he suggested the stunt could have been tied to "guerilla marketing for a new Siri feature".
"In reality you should have said 'perhaps I'm a puppet for RIM'."
Another, daftJackal, said Burr "deliberately withheld information".
"You took advantage of your audience from the purpose of [a] sensationalised marketing scheme. Its despicable."
Sgbett remarked: "The 'oh but i never lied' argument is pretty weak. There is such a thing as lying by omission."
And TornadoCreator wrote: "I'm slightly shocked you'd let yourself be used for a marketing stunt."
But despite this, Burr said he wasn't under the "thumb" of RIM.
"I wasn't sent out to spread any particular message or a theme or anything."
Responding to TornadoCreator's comment, Burr said he used RIM "just as much" as they used him in promoting the stunt, perhaps pointing to the fact his original video got him 500,000 views and no doubt money from advertising revenue.
The marketing stunt was originally thought to be the work of Apple arch-rival Samsung, but RIM owned up after bloggers traced the campaign back to the BlackBerry maker.
Fairfax Media's Sydney Morning Herald attempted to contact Burr via email earlier this week but he did not reply. He told the Herald's sister publication, the AFR, he had no interest in talking to journalists "from the likes of Fairfax".
Ben Grubb filed this report whilst a guest of RIM at its BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, Florida.