Useless? I completely disagree. Just like hitting the Toolbar PR was more effective the hitting actual PR.
Google was communicating: "This isn't allowed. Stop it." Loud & Clear. The BMW thing i've heard cited Xmany times & I am pretty sure its been put in front of hundreds or thousands of business owners & execs. People are afraid to spam Google. It worked
Hit em where they're looking if you want to have an impact. Its more likely to be toolbar PR then rankings or traffic. And more importanly, you can tell where it came from.