Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Brand-Name Swag & The Skeptic in Me

If you haven't heard of Brand About Town, you're either living under a rock or not a blogger. Because I'm kind, I will give you the benefit of the doubt & assume the latter.

Brand About Town is a marketing company making its rounds in the blogosphere, reaching out to the best, brightest &, um, bloggiest of the bunch & asking them to be brand reps for a few equally bright & shiny big names. The Chosen Ones (the lucky bloggers, that is) are asked to host modern-day versions of Tupperware parties - instead of being asked to buy plastic dishware, they're instead given swag (that's "stuff we all get," the best acronym ever) from the brands they rep.

The two brand names that seem to be kicking off the Brand About Town trend are Nintendo & GAP, & both have hit the DC blogger circuit with full force. I was invited to LiLu's Nintendo Girl Gamers party, where every attendee sipped champagne & chowed catered goodies before receiving a free (bedazzled!) Nintendo DS. - sadly, my trip to Ohio prevented me from attending. As much as I love the Buckeye State, I was not pleased about this one. Tomorrow, I have the pleasure of attending DC Princess' GAP party, where a few of us will review the brand's upcoming line of jeans. She & other GAP reps have all blogged about the pre-party swag they've gotten - lotsa pretty snazzy stuff, & because love the GAP, I'm really looking forward to seeing how this goes down.

Here's the thing: I haven't seen a single brand rep say a single even-remotely-negative thing about her experience as a rep or the product she's repping; same goes for party attendees. And while I wouldn't expect them to after being given a bunch of amazing free shiz, I've got to believe that each of these ladies has at least some gripe, no matter how small, with the products they've been given.

Full disclosure requires me to admit that I enthusiastically applied to become a brand enthusiast. And though I've not been asked to become one, I like to think that if I were, I'd make clear that my blog is not for sale - & that includes payment in swag. If I'm going to review something, I'm going to review it - the good, the bad, & everything in between, no matter how fun the party that gets me to it is. With brands as pre-existingly baller as Nintendo & the GAP, I can't imagine, honestly, that too much negative exists, but that's not the point. The point is that I wonder how much Brand About Town & its corporate partners bank on swaying us big-cities-&-small-wallets blogger gals into being so thankful for gratis goods that we then say only nice things about their products.

Does gratefulness at being the recipient of otherwise-expensive free stuff negate the willingness to be totally honest about a product, especially when that honesty may include less-than-totally-stellar reviews? Marketers, of course, want to see positive reviews of their products. But aren't reviews most effective for everyone involved when they're completely & totally honest? And do glowing, positive-as-punch reviews hold any water when it's clear to their audience (in this case, readers of blogs) that they're written as the result of thanks-for-the-free-stuff gratitude?

Just something to think about. Let's see if I feel so gung-ho about journalistic (bloggeristic?) integrity when I return home tomorrow with a new pair of jeans in tow...

Tasteless Giveaway Winner!

As you may recall, I recently hosted a giveaway for goodies from EdenFantasys.com. I had 34 entries - many thanks to all! Now, I present to you my first on-blog video announcing the lucky winner.

Congrats, winner! (Yeah, you have to watch it to figure out if it's you.) Forgive my extreme awkwardness & the down-the-shirt shot of my boobs. (If you didn't watch it yet, now you'll sure want to.)
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