Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Blogging And The FTC.... Making Sure We Know We're NOT Celebrities.

I am not at all shocked by the recent rules put into effect by the FTC regarding bloggers disclosing their endorsements.
I'm not shocked because every time I read a mommy blogger or beauty blogger talk about how great this or that product is I have to wonder if the company sent them that item for free. Did Cuisinart send them the blender they love so dearly or do they really love it? I mean, would you tend to review something more favorably if it came for free? What about if someone actually paid you to write the positive review? Also, I'm curious as to which bloggers are getting free stuff and which are just reviewing in hopes of getting free stuff.... and who are the ones reviewing things they genuinely like. Honestly, I have seen some pretty damn good bloggers go down in flames because of over endorsement in their posts.
For the record, no one sends me free stuff. Maybe because I swear in my posts or maybe it's because I'm generally poking fun of advertising. Maybe it's because I have strange taste. Who knows.
So for my curiousity about who is getting free stuff I kind of like this rule.

That said, there are a LOT of things I don't. For example, celebrities.
Side note: I have celebrities on my mind as I'm writing this post in LA, the mothership of free celebrity schwag and I'm more or less surrounded by people that make me feel poor and not cute which is I'm pretty sure the goal of most beauty advertising. Should you want to see a 45 year old with a 20 year old body wearing tights (not pants) this is your place.

Anyway, product companies send celebrities free items all the time and then tell magazines that Sharon Stone loves their jeans. In fact, celebrities have been doing the "subtle endorsement" for years and years fueled by the gossip rag industry. Now bloggers start to get in on the fun and suddenly we need a rule about it.

To make the FTC rules simple you basically have to remember one thing: if it was sent to you for free or if you're being paid to write about it then you have to tell your readers. Most bloggers that I know are pretty protective of their readers and would disclose this kind of information in a heartbeat with or without a rule. Most bloggers respect their followers enough to tell them honestly what they think of a product so this would never be a problem. This rule is to stop the type of "pay per post" blogging that I have learned to dislike. If you accidentally end up on one of these types of blogs you'll know immediately.

Lastly, I'll close with this: if you're really worried about the rule consider this: How in the world is the FTC going to police the millions of blogs out there?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with your point - most bloggers respect and love their followers/readers. I know I sure do. And for the most part they give honest opinions. A good example of this I think is Tavi from the blog Style Rookie. She gave her honest opinion on Fashion Week. Okay girl is only 13 and she's getting invited to be FRONT ROW AT ALEXANDER WANG AND TO MEET MARC JACOBS. Still she stated how she didn't like some of the clothes at A.W. show in fact she thought some were awkward. Anyways the rule is fine and all but how come they have to take away the fun? As you said celebrities get loaded with free things all the time to erhm "quietly" endorse. UM how do they plan on seeing who is saying 'I got this for free'/'I'm getting payed'

etc. etc.

anyways. I love when you do awesome posts like this. :)

October 7, 2009 at 5:02 PM  
Blogger Caitlin said...

Christian -
The problem / cool thing about bloggers is, they aren't going to say exactly what you want. Some will, if you pay them and their readers will leave. The good ones won't parrot a brand's message. The tricky thing that marketers are going to have to realize is they will have to create real relationships with bloggers. In the end, it's better than paying them anyway.

October 7, 2009 at 7:44 PM  
Blogger Royce said...

Once anyone who writes about an industry actually makes connections in that industry, I wonder if their writing doesn't change at least somewhat. Every time you review or critique product X, you are thinking about John and Sally who made it who you've talked to and they're really nice people and they worked really hard and explained all the features to you personally and all of a sudden you have a MUCH different perspective than the random reader who just sees the product only.

To me that's the part that makes it harder to know how much to trust a writer's opinion... I've seen this happen with writers from all genres. The most notable example is probably Bill Simmons of ESPN, who we discuss probably twice weekly at FIWK. So maybe it hasn't hurt his popularity after all.

October 8, 2009 at 9:10 AM  

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