In the literature, Covert Marketing is known by different names, such as secret, under the radar, masked, buzz, bait and hidden marketing.

The concept behind covert marketing is that the identity of the message and/or the sender of the message are not revealed and the message is transmitted to the consumer.

The process and characteristics of covert marketing are summarized as follows:-

1)It is imperative that the customers do not understand that the message is commercial or know the firm sending the message. In this way it is ensured that consumers will avoid a sceptical approach to the message and accept it much more easily. This approach is different as it aims to be out of the consumer’s perceptions threshold.

2) In this communication method, people’s relations with the firm are not clear and they talk about the products of the firm.

3) During the application, the informative message is transmitted to the target consumers by using an appointed person and way.

4) In this communication, the first goal is that the product is purchased by the consumers but more than that, it is wished that the consumers disseminate the message about the product.

5) This strategy aims to reach consumers by determining their weakest defense points. This could mean that a consumer can always find n number of ways to refute the product citing its weakness, uneasiness to use. But a good brand communication which makes the consumer just observe the benefits to sit and take note in a subtle way can help in marketing of the product through word of mouth , appreciation and reviews in the market.

Consumers persistently confront covert marketing techniques in daily life. Implementation of the strategy is limited by the visualization of marketers and can be applied hitherto that involves interaction with the customer. According to the level of cover which is used to hide the real source and/or message at the communication process, a typology of covert marketing techniques is presented in Table 1. The proposed typology is classified by the authors as to whether the message/real source is overt or covert by 2×2 matrixes.


Table 1

In typology, the element that is specified as the real source is the owner of the message and company which initiated the communication process.

A few effects of Covert Marketing:

-Misleading marketing practices have been around for a long time; as a result, consumers have become increasingly sceptical of marketing, and government agencies have pursued enforcement and regulations in an attempt to control misleading claims.

-When considering Covert Marketing, policy makers, marketers, and consumers should consider whether they want a similar result for this type of practice. Marketers, by adopting such practices make it more likely that consumer scepticism will increase about any information provided about a product or a service, whether obviously advertising or apparently from an independent third party.

-Taking into account advertising, the long term result may be that such practices become less effective. However, the problem of misleading advertising is not what is contained within the sphere of marketing and that of the consumers.

-The practice of masked marketing may cause increased scepticism about how people relate to strangers and acquaintances and also how people relate to each other in person and on Web sites.

This now is not a question of what type of marketing system, a society wants to have, but of how much influence the marketing system should have over the type of society we enjoy.

The most important medium in transmitting a message process is advertising. The problems in the usage of this medium can be many: the increase in the number of critics about advertisement, the consumers having serious doubts regarding reliability, an experience/ earlier feeling of being deceived causes a negative attitude to all other advertisements.

It might cause an unconscious reluctance and feeling of discomfort to the brand logo in the consumer persuasion process. In addition, because of excessive advertisement costs, and because more educated consumers can use technological tools in order to avoid the commercial messages sent by firms and find ways to desensitize themselves, this has caused firms to look for alternative methods to persuade consumers without disturbing them

The trend is moving towards viral marketing which tries to generate buzz, awareness, shock, or surprise. Companies try to generate word-of-mouth campaigns with key opinion leaders, and there are now companies whose networks of volunteers receive free samples of products in the expectation that these people will help sell the products to others

Concluding, this practice of marketing advances at a pace much faster than that of marketing regulation. For this reason, the marketers must rely on existing laws pertaining to testimonials, personal selling, telemarketing, and commercial e-mail to address modern practices that, though similar, are also somewhat different. Careful analysis and inference of the principles expressed in these laws provides reasonable and trust-worthy guidance at this point for Covert marketing practices. Updating existing materials with modern examples would help clarify when legal challenge may be likely. Finally, it seems clear that as new marketing practices are developed, there needs to be research regarding these practices so as to make sure that early sins don’t repeat.



1)M. Sukru, Basar Altuntas (October 2015). Covert Marketing Strategy and Techniques.  Research Gate – Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences.

2)Herbert Jack Rotfeld (2008). The Stealth Influence of Covert Marketing and Much Ado About What May Be Nothing.  Journal of Public Policy and Marketing

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