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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Right or Wrong? » » A warning for Vancouver professional magicians (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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The Burnaby Kid
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In Vancouver, there's a magician by the name of Rob Matthies of Vancouver Birthday Party Rescuers who's using his competitors BY NAME in aggressive gaming of web search engines. Basically, he's created videos and uploaded them to Youtube, Metacafe, Dailymotion, etc., and cross-linked them in order to improve his page-rankings, and he uses his competitors' names in the video titles. At the moment, there's an extremely well-established professional magician in Vancouver, and if you do a search on his name, one of Rob's videos comes up as #8 on the google search, with the title "Review our $75 magician vs XXX's Vancouver magic show".

(I've referred to the magician in question as XXX since some Magic Café threads get indexed on google, and if this thread comes up highly on searches for Rob Matthies and/or Vancouver Party Rescuers (something I'd like) then XXX's name won't be a part of it.)

If you're based in Vancouver -- or anywhere in British Columbia, for that matter -- and you've been trying to market yourself prominently on search engines, you might want to do a search on yourself and make sure Rob hasn't hijacked your name for one of his promotional videos.
magicgettogether
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I see similar things on google ads all the time. Not saying its right but the way I look at it imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Check out the term abbotts magic in google and you will see another shop using the name abbott magic in the ad section at the top. We actually had people call complaining about this form of advertising.

I have no problem people taking out ads for their shop when someone looks for Abbotts Magic in a search but at least use your own name, don't imply that you are Abbotts Magic or (as another magic shop did) put in bold "ABBOTT MAGIC" then regular text "books". If you are going to pay for advertising then be deceptive and make your ad look like you are someone else it says an awful lot about that company/individual. Once people realize they have been deceived what has the deceiver really gained.

I suppose it comes with success, if no one shopped at Abbotts I am sure no one would be trying to take their name/traffic.
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The Burnaby Kid
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At the moment, if somebody searches for my name and "magician", then one of his videos pops up with the title "75$ Elmo mascot assists magician" as one of the results. Yesterday it was on the bottom of the first page of results, and today it's at the top of the first. There's an ambiguity there that suggests that I have some sort of connection to this guy. I find that unethical. Even worse, if people follow the link, they might see a video of some nameless guy performing on the street doing something with a change bag and assuming that it's me.

Anyhow, I got in touch with the guy about getting my name removed from the video, and this was his response.

"* ABOUT COMPETITIVE TAGS & KEYWORDS .. IF you are a consumer who uses Craigslist to look for the 'best deal', the use of competitive Tags & Keywords serves a public-service purpose --- to prevent you from being overcharged. You may have already noticed that the majority of magicians and entertainers in Vancouver do not post their fee schedule --- also a way of keeping consumers, like you, 'in the dark'. Therefore, the "unethical" allegation by the anonymous provocateurs (our competitors) is simply a ploy to keep you, the consumer, overcharged. Do you really want to pay $250 an hour for a balloon twister? I don't think. so. Competitive Tags & Keywords (like Reviews) have saved consumers a ton of money. And, what's more, competitive tags or keywords are perfectly legal -- read Ken Aulay's book, "Googled" for your information. Don't be misled by magicians and clowns who want you to pay $300-$1500 for their magic show."

I wasn't even asking about Craiglist. This is just a cut-and-paste for consumers. The guy has no interest competing on a fair level but wants to game the system.

I only hope that subsequent google searches will similarly bring up this clown's name.
The Burnaby Kid
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I've gotten in touch with one of the magician's he's giving this treatment to (the guy I referenced as XXX) above. He's been trying to figure out a way to deal with it for a while.

"Hi Andrew,

Yeah, this guy is a real prick and is going around tagging all of the magicians in the Vancouver area, so as to give himself a higher Google rating. Good luck trying to get him to remove your name from his tags, as I hear he is a real *** on the phone too.

XXX"

...along with the follow-up...

"Hi Andrew,

He's also using a good friend of mines name as well, YYY, to which YYY says there's nothing legal we can do about it, unless our names are trademarked. It is immoral and unethical, but this prick doesn't seem to care.

XXX"

Again, I'm blocking out the names of these guys to preserve their anonymity. They might decide to speak up on this, but preferably if this specific thread shows up in google search results for Vancouver magicians, I'm hoping that a discussion about Rob Matthies's questionable marketing tactics doesn't involve their name as well. I'll take the hit because I'm currently temporarily back to amateur status.
jazzy snazzy
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Couldn't you copyright your name?
"The secret of life is to look good from a distance."
-Charles Schulz
The Burnaby Kid
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Apparently the only recourse is to trademark your name. I'm looking into it. We're talking about hundreds of dollars just to keep scumbags like this from hijacking it for their own videos, and I don't even know if those trademarks are going to be enforceable if the videos referencing them are hosted on websites outside of Canada.
jazzy snazzy
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Elmo's name is certainly trademarked.

Have an attorney send him a Cease and Desist letter. Even if it is difficult to enforce.

Here in the states, you just can't use someone else's name for personal profit.
When you think about it, this is a form of identity theft.
"The secret of life is to look good from a distance."
-Charles Schulz
The Burnaby Kid
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Regarding Elmo, can't say. He might have a license of some kind allowing him to use that.

I believe that even in the States you can reference a competitor in an ad in order to make comparisons on aspects of service, such as quality and price. What's going on here is certainly unethical, but difficult to enforce as illegal. Where it gets iffy is when the comparisons call out the other person by name, but don't clearly identify themselves beyond contact information. I agree that we're talking about a kind of identity theft, but again, I don't know that the law itself would follow that line of thought.

That said, there's certainly nothing unethical or illegal about educating Vancouver magicians about this issue with regards to their own names being used against them.
Kent Wong
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O.K., here's my two bits. Register your performing name (which may also be your regular name) as a trade name at your local corporate registry. This is effective immediately and cost only $15.00 (At least that's the cost here in Alberta). Once that has been done, the tradename is protected under the business corporations act by provisions designed to prevent "passing off". This is where someone else is using your tradename in a manner that is potentially confusing to customers (sound familiar?). Get every professional/semi-professional magician who has been tagged to do the same. Then, combine your efforts to commence a legal action against this individual (the combined costs are much less per individual). Your objective in the litigation is to obtain an injunction that prohibits this person from tagging your registered trade names. You may also be in a position to sue for damages and court costs.

Kent
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Donal Chayce
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Something similar has happened to Arthur Trace. If you Google "Arthur Trace magician", his website is at the top of the list. But if you only Google his name, the website of another LA magician is at the top of the list.

Hmmm...Smile
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The Burnaby Kid
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Score, Kent! Thanks very much. Will look into that.

As he's currently using the names of members of the Vancouver Magic Circle, I'll be working to make sure that they're made aware of what's going on for their upcoming meeting.
Payne
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Doubtful he's got a legit licence for Elmo. Especially with the poor quality costume and the fact he's only charging $75 an hour for him. I also noticed an unlicensed Winney the Pooh costume in another video. So I'd notify both Disney and the Sesame Street folk. They will slap him with a cease and desist order in no time flat. He's also using the name Mickey Mouse as a tag to another video so the lawyers at the mouse empire should be able to get that vid pulled. You basically have to make his life as miserable as possible by using copyright infringement to your advantage.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
Nala Nosmoht
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As my performing name is also used by this jerk, I have contacted someone I know at Google. He can't do anything personally
but will forward it on to someone who may be able to help. Unfortunately there are some "bottom feeders" in every group.
The Burnaby Kid
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Nala,

Are you a member of VMC? If so, there's going to be a meeting at the end of January. I think all the VMC members who've had their names hijacked by this person might be interested in knowing that this sort of marketing strategy is being done.
The Burnaby Kid
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An additional warning...

Currently he's using two levels of name hijacking. First, he's got videos which are generic and include a large list of Vancouver magicians in the comments section. This is where I originally found myself, and 24 hours ago, it was one of these videos that was showing up at the bottom of the first page of google search results on my name + magician.

After making my concerns to him directly, I found that he created videos using my name specifically in the title of the videos. This video, I suppose because the search engine interprets it as being directly relevant to me (rather than just spamming), came up third on a google search of my name + magician.

I'd advise against getting in touch with him about this. It seems he escalates. It'd be best to stay off the radar until a larger action can be mounted.
The Burnaby Kid
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Small victory, here...

I reported a promotional video that included my name in the title on blip.tv as spam, and the customer support contacted me to say that the account itself has been suspended for spamming.

I don't know how long it'll be before the account is replaced with a new one, but at the very least it shows that we've got a little backup when it comes to fighting these tactics.
Nala Nosmoht
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No Andrew, I'm not a VMC member. past though. I dumped my adwords account. But have, as I said contacted Google.
As this underhanded business does reflect on their end through sales they may take a look at it.And at least suggest or take some action.

In the old days with Yellow Pages, it was a level playing field. No more.
Clinton W. Gray
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Okay, here we go. I had a four hour drive after a gig today and so lots of time to compose my thoughts on this thread.

First of all, I too am a "victim" of the marketing strategies of this individual (who I'll call RM). In fact I am the YYY magician mentioned above. You've noticed that I have quoted the word "victim." This is simply because I don't feel like I am a victim in any way. RM is doing nothing wrong. He is simply an aggressive marketer trying to make a living doing magic shows. He's also not doing anything new. Anyone who has even a passing interest in the history of magic will understand that this has been going on for centuries. Houdini, Thuston, Blackstone, Keller all used each others names in their advertising, slamming each other at any opportunity they got. Chung Ling Soo and Ching Ling Foo is a perfect example of trying to confuse the public based on name recognition. Today we think of these giants in our industry as geniuses of self-promotion. Why is this fellow in Vancouver any different?

There are basically four tactics that RM is using, none of which is very clever.

#1: Video

Have you seen these videos? They're are absolutely awful. I can't believe anyone would even consider paying for him! I don't want to provide links but if you've seen them you know what I mean. Why are we afraid of this guy?

#2: Titles

RM uses other magician's names in the Video title as a comparison. i.e. Compare our $75 magician to "XXX" There's nothing wrong with that, businesses do that every day! In fact, that's what the review section of the Magic Café is!! It's us magicians comparing products and dealers before we make a buying decision.

To me, I see the comparison as a huge advantage to my business. My VancouverMagician.ca website is the number one organic hit on Google for searches like magicians in Vancouver, so I get a lot of calls and emails from people who are price shopping. Since our prices start at about $700 for one hour of close-up magic, I certainly don't want phone calls from people looking for a $75 act. So they call him and not me. That's a good thing as it keeps my phone line open for the serious enquires. The cheap clients book him and get what they pay for.


#3: Tags

I agree that this is sleazy, but as I said earlier it's nothing new. It's also VERY easy to combat. He literally tags everyone he can find that sells magic in the Vancouver area. This actually reduces the weight of each tag. If a Vancouver magician put his own promo video on each of the sites RM uses (YouTube, Daily Motion etc.,) with a title like "Vancouver Comedy Magician Clinton W. Gray and then just a few tags like "magician, Vancouver, Clinton W. Gray, entertainment, comedy", within a few short weeks their video would out rank his. This is especially true if you get a few clients to go to the video and post some nice testimonials comments about your act. Comments out-rank tags somewhere in the neighbourhood of 10-1.

A quick Google search on my name reveals over two full pages of Google hits which relate directly to me and my business... and only one tiny video on Daily Motion that uses my name in the title but is actually promoting RM's magic show. I'm sure if I posted a few videos on Daily Motion and linked to them, his would be gone and mine would be the most relevant hit.

#4: Price

I'm glad he's so low priced. It takes him out of the league of the professionals. If a prospect calls the top five guys listed on Google for a search like "Vancouver Magicians", you're going to get a range of prices from about $700 to $1,800 for a 30 minute stand-up magic show. Do you think anyone is going to take a price of $75 seriously? And if they do only have a $75 budget, do you think I'm going to be able convince them to spend 1000% more than their budget to book one of our magicians?


I'm going to wrap this is up now, because I have show number 28 of 35 this December at 9:30am tomorrow morning. (gratuitous ego-inflation completely intentional... but true BTW) RM has not hurt my business at all and after talking to many of the other pros in the area, it hasn't seemed hurt them either.
Clinton W. Gray
Magician in Vancouver BC
The Burnaby Kid
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Clinton,

Hey there, hope you weren't put off by the "YYY" pseudonym. My understanding with emails with others on this was that you'd looked into trying to do something about the problem, but that there wasn't anything that could be done about it legally if our names weren't trademarked.

Truly, I really am glad if this sort of marketing hasn't affected you at all. Truth be told, it hasn't had much impact on me either, since I'm not even working in Vancouver at the moment.

What I was personally annoyed about is the idea that, if somebody does a google search on "Andrew Musgrave Magician", one of his videos would come up with an ambiguous headline that might suggest I'm affiliated with him. At this point, though, he has videos that name me (and others) specifically in the titles, which specify me as a competitor, so I guess we're beyond that.

What's going on at this point, though, isn't just a case of somebody trying to steal my business, this is a case of somebody trying to hijack my name.

Maybe in a few years I'll be established enough in a market to the point that this won't make a difference. However, for the moment, I'm going to try to fight it.
Clinton W. Gray
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I understand Andrew. I just wonder if the best way to fight it is to bury his hits on page 5, by increasing your own hits?
Clinton W. Gray
Magician in Vancouver BC
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