TiVo's latest advertising campaign, "Hook Up with TiVo," personifies the new Tivo HD as seeking personal companionship. The taste is questionable; the feel, desperate. Could it be that TiVo's marketers are realizing that the company's buzz is fading? The ads themselves, featuring Chris Harrison, host of ABC's "The Bachelor," to select the perfect match for the device, are bad enough. But it gets, unbelievably, sleazier than Harrison.


TiVo, you see, has tapped Pay Per Post, the controversial startup that pays bloggers to shill for advertisers' products, to help boost a YouTube contest accompanying the campaign, The contest purportedly called on TiVo users to post video testimonials to TiVo. The problem is that their testimonials are fake, generated by TiVo's cash, not customers' passion. The move was revealed when Sarah Hendrix opted to disclose she was being paid through Pay Per Post for her video. TiVo, we thought, already had a substantial community of fanatically loyal users. One would think the contest's prize, a free TiVo HD and lifetime subscription, would be motivation enough. No matter what you think of Pay Per Post as an advertising platform, the fact that TiVo is employing them to gin up fake interest speaks loudly to the fall of the TiVo brand.