The minor media storm over Orange's alleged marketing methods began after the 3G iPhones went on sale in Poland last Friday. After a newswire report quoted a spokesperson from the European mobile telecom provider saying that it was paying people to stand outside and create the queues, the story was repeated across the internet and bounced around the blogosphere.
However, an Orange official wrote in an e-mail response to queries from Ad Age today that this was not the case, and included a statement "in response to the rumors in the Polish press."
"As part of the excitement around the launch of the iPhone, some of our team have been joining customers outside our shops. Their aim is to welcome people to the Orange shop, share in their excitement and give information about Orange tariffs," wrote a spokeswoman from parent France Telecom Group, which owns the Orange brand.
'Sales are strong'
She added that while the company does not disclose figures, "sales are strong and we are happy."
Whether the report began with a rogue Polish Orange employee or was simply the result of inaccurate coverage, the online discussions continue, revolving not only around the pros and cons of such a ploy, but also whether it might backfire for both the Apple and Orange brands.
An Apple spokesman did not return calls for comment by press time.