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I'm looking for a word to describe history made up by a company for marketing purposes.

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5 Answers 5

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The term backstory (or back story) is used in literature to describe the fictional bases of the plot and characters.

If the company began to believe their fiction, it might be called corporate confabulation

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Such a history might be referred to as a humbug (“something designed to deceive and mislead”). Humbug also means “a willfully false, deceptive, or insincere person”, so a company with a humbug history can be called a humbug as well. Postiche (“an imitation, counterfeit, or substitute” and “anything that is false; sham or pretence”) also might do, as might ruse.

More formally, the made-up history is false credentials. False can be replaced by a synonym or by related words such as sham (“Intended to deceive; false”) and bogus (“Counterfeit or fake; not genuine”).

The history can be called a cover story (“a fictitious account that is intended to hide one's real motive”) if the company is a front (“A person or institution acting as the public face of some other, covert group. [eg] Officially it's a dry-cleaning shop, but everyone knows it's front for the mafia”) for smugglers, spies, or criminals.

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  • BTW in Bulgaria there is city named Ruse :D That sheds a new light on the name of that city for me. Oct 17, 2012 at 8:04
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In the movie "Sunshine Cleaning" a new business man calls it a "business lie" to say that his business has been around since 1963 when it really hasn't. Here's a clip of that scene: Sunshine Cleaning.

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I've seen "corporate propaganda" used to describe what you're talking about. Also "corporate spin."

Related is the phenomenon of "astroturfing." (Had to throw that in, I like that one a lot.)

Sometimes there are special words for what you can do with the propaganda--"greenwashing" is where you use spin to promote a product as more environmentally friendly than it claims to be.

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  • You can use "edit" to complete your answer.
    – Kris
    Oct 17, 2012 at 7:00
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This is probably something there really out to be a word or some kind of portmanteau for. But failing that, I think the most accurately descriptive word I can think of is "fiction".

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