I sold out to BlogHer about six months ago; I make enough to comfortably support my Mountain Dew habit, though the better (by far) benefit has been meeting people like Beth and Marianne and MereCat and Annie and Autumn (and others I just haven’t met yet).
But some people really sold out. I mean, really.
If you visit ChristmasWrapped.com, you might think you’ve stumbled on a helpful group blog by some of the biggest mommy bloggers out there — Dooce, PioneerWoman, MightyMaggie, etc.
Here, you might think, I can crack the code of what cool gifts and gadgets are on the wishlists at the big kids’ table.
But as you look around a little more, you might recognize the Target logo and the “Isaac Mizrahi for Target” brand, or that every outlink in every post is to a product page on Target’s website.
So you click on the About this Site page and you realize, not from the completely un-iformative and actually diversionary text, but from the FM logo, that these are all bloggers in the Federated Media stable, bloggers who earn their living by running FM ads on their personal sites, and that ChristmasWrapped.com is merely a platform for Target to advertise with Federated Media.
What are supposed to look like spontaneous reviews of (AWESOME! Jon loves this! MarlboroMan wants that!) products are actually barely modified regurgitations of the promotional material provided by Target’s marketing department.
It’s tacky product placement taken to the nth degree.
And it would damage the credibility of the bloggers involved (because nowhere is there a disclaimer that the endorsements are in any way recompensed, which they are — just a bit of business-speak rubbish that says precisely nothing), except they are apparently so embarrassed about their participation in the project that they don’t refer to it on their own sites.
Perhaps because each, in her own way, makes her living on her blog by providing “honest,” “candid,” and “uncensored,” views of the world.
You go girl! Tell it like it is! Keep it real, baby!
How much is too much?
Or have we established that we are all prostitutes and are now just dickering over price?*
*Google has FAILED me. There’s some anecdote about Coolidge or Truman or some other dead president guy talking to a woman and her saying she’d sleep with him for a million dollars, but when he offers her 10 bucks, she says, indignantly, “Sir, I am not a prostitute” and he says, “Madam, we have already established that you are; now we are just dickering over price.”
And my dad is not answering his phone, and I know he knows what I’m talking about. Dad?
*Updated to add
I’m not saying sponsorship/advertising is bad. It’s just like getting paid to work. (In fact, it’s exactly like getting paid to work).
But that doesn’t mean that all sponsorship/advertising is done well. It might be difficult for sponsorship to be acknowledged, transparent ,and (editorially) as-least-influential-as-possible, but when we trust journalists or bloggers or doctors to be honest, then we expect the journalist to disclose her biases and the blogger her sponsors and the doctor her drug trial involvement. Transparency, while a much-maligned buzzword, is a very worthy goal.
BlogHer tells me, for example, that I can’t swear profusely or use Adult content on this site as part of my contractual agreement. This is chafing at times, but honestly, it’s more the thought that my grandma reads that keeps me on the straight-and-narrow.