Special forces marketing

Nokia is looking for people to play its N-Gage mobile gaming deck in public places and to educate people on the device. It's a marketing technique that's been around for some time now, a creative attempt to use the really connected people of society to kickstart viral growth. Gaming devices are popular targets for this marketing ploy because marketers like to circumvent parents and hit the children directly at school, on playgrounds, etc., inducing the kids to them pester their parents to death at home until said toy shows up under the Christmas tree.
William Gibson draws from the idea in his latest novel Pattern Recognition in which one attractive female character makes a living getting paid to covertly chat up movies, music, and other various products in conversations with people who approach her for conversations.
"Have you heard of this band called...? They're amazing!"
"Have you seen this movie called...? It's unbelievable."
CNN reports that a company called Freedom Tobacco is offering a lifetime supply of cigarettes to comely actresses who agree to smoke their products in public. These women are referred to as leaners.
Call it subsidized artificial word-of-mouth. It's one of those ideas that's both intriguing and spooky. In fact, someday all the most influential bloggers will be sent free product samples in exchange for online plugs (the same way some magazines always publish favorable reviews of every product they receive so that the gravy train keeps flowing). If that ever happened to me, I think I'd remain objective, though the devil is one charming fellow to deal with.