"Marketing's New Rage: Brands Sponsoring Influential Bloggers"
That's the headline of a recent article at WWD.com which has to do with brands sponsoring bloggers.
"Barneys New York, Gap, Coach and other big brands are collaborating with bloggers to create new and controversial forms of advertising for a more social age. They might invite a blogger to guest blog, sponsor a series of daily outfit posts featuring their product, create or request a video of the blogger talking about the brand or wearing the product or even ask the blogger to design for the brand."
There's nothing "new" about it. This form of sponsored blogging has been going on for years. It just used to be called pay-per-post, that is until some influential bloggers joined the ruckus (which made it seem okay for many), then Forrester, in their infinite wisdom, white-washed the whole thing by dubbing it "sponsored conversations." Call it what you will, you can't get a silk purse out of a sow's ear.
Of course, never mind me. I'm the product of the Jason Calacanis school of blogging (I used to write for Weblogs Inc in its heyday.). Jason reinforced in us that editorial and advertorial do not mix, and I have tried to live by that motto ever since.
Quite honestly, I've tried to remain moot on this subject for the past couple of years, hoping that the whole thing would just go away. But, here it is again, so I'm speaking my mind.
Some of you will say it's a moot point now that the FTC has weighed in with full-disclosure guidelines. Perhaps, but I can't get away from the belief that what is really at stake is an abrogation and subsequent erosion of trust. My character and the reputation I've built is all I have. To lose your trust would be a death-knell.
On the other hand, if someone were to dangle a fat check in front of my face in exchange for a few posts, would I bite? (I may be a purist, but I'm a pragmatic one.) Though the likelihood of that ever happening is slim to none, still, if it ever did, I'd like to believe I could courteously say "No, thank you."
So, am I too much of a tight-a**? Holier than thou? What's your take? Feel free to disagree.