A recent New York Times feature, re-printed at C|Net, creates a phony controversy over new e-commerce sites.
The idea is that some companies are using entertaining Web sites, at URLs not affiliated with their companies, to sell products with humor and games. The clear implication of the article is there is something misleading or nefarious about all this.
The article cites sites from Burger King, BestBuy, Alaska Air, and a joint Microsoft-Intel shop. Only the Alaska Air site is at all misleading -- everyone else has their sponsor posted clearly on the front page (although the BestBuy logo is small and inconspicuous). And the Alaska Air site follows up on a TV campaign, so even there we find no attempt to mislead.
So what's the problem?
To me, there is no problem. Humor has been part of advertising since before Burma Shave. It is interesting to see big advertisers buying URLs unaffiliated with themselves to launch campaigns, so the campaigns don't get in the way of the main corporate message.
But there's no problem here. Unless the Times is just upset they're not getting a cut of the revenue.