As I sit at the computer nursing Mr Stickyfinger's dying Siamese cat, I wonder how long she can hang on as she drifts in and out of consciousness. In this tiny old skeletal creature, the organs are gradually shutting down. I know not her pain, I have no idea what is going on in her mind, I just know that her time is coming.
A sad as I am, I realise that this is also an appropriate analogy to describe the average Marketer's perspective of Food Bloggers. Marketers generally don't understand what motivates us but they appear to like us - as one might well like a friend's pet.
When talking to Marketing clients and advertising people, I find the word 'Blogger' results either in eyes glazing over or the wistful expression of looking at a friend's racehorse and thinking 'I could make some money if I got my hands on that beast'. Those in the latter group know our time is coming and seek to capitalise on harnessing Bloggers web content while most Bloggers are still innocent enough to give it away for free.
The online advertising dollar in the UK & USA is gradually cannibalising the once holy grail of advertising, Television commercials. Companies are getting more savvy about how to flog their merchandise by advertising online and by using clever cost saving techniques that are cheaper than - and give them better results than - epic mega-buck TV ads.
Should they also build a site around a product, what becomes expensive is paying Professional Writers like myself to provide the large volume of content required to fuel a corporate website. Out of this comes the search for free content and the first idea that pops into the Digital Marketing head is to create an online community around a branded website where users are bombarded with product advertising - subtle or otherwise.
It's fair enough, after all search engines' highest sought items, after porn, are recipes. But not content to gradually develop a relationship with core customers and recipe hunters to fuel their site with forum chit-chat and recipe exchange, some companies seek to scrape blog content, sometimes by issuing flattering emails to Bloggers, while others ask for contribution in exchange for promotional products or the chance to win a competition.
Today, I received the following email from Kraft Foods and wondered whether Google - who own Blogger and Blogspot - had provided a list of their Australian Food Blogs and email addresses to the mega corporation.
In this instance, they not only want your thoughts for free to fuel their site, but they also want you to espouse their soon to be launched product, after playing with their processed pantry item in your kitchen. In return you will be recognised as an 'Ambassador'. Hopefully you'll even feature their products in some of the creations you post on your blog too.
Vegie Pourover Buzz is an Ambassador website aimed at promoting balanced nutrition. It’s all about providing practical solutions to the challenges people face getting kids to eat Vegies. We came across your blog and thought you might be interested in what we're doing. We'd like to invite you to participate as an Ambassador in the program.
Kraft is about to launch a new product in Australia called ‘Vegie Pourover’ and Ambassadors will receive all four flavours to trial (absolutely free). Participants are not required to provide feedback or engage in surveys, most importantly we hope that a real-life community and resource evolves to support people faced with kids nutrition challenges. Plus there’s lots of great incentives for being involved.
We hope Vegie Pourover Buzz will encourage Ambassadors to experiment with the product and to share these experiences with other Ambassadors and friends.
Inside, there's lots of really useful information, including expert nutrition advice and great meal ideas. To register, visit http://www.vegiepouroverbuzz
Thanks, we hope to see you in the Program!
The site is thinly disguised as promoting healthy eating by encouraging the consumption of vegetables. But this entails using a packet of sauce, which no doubt is full of unnecessary garbage. If you register with them you might even win a subscription to an Australian food magazine. Obviously they have no idea that many Food Bloggers eschew Food mags in favour of reading other food blogs.
My suggestion is don't give great chunks of your time, your thoughts and words for free to a corporation - that like Kraft - has a gross annual revenue in the area of US$3.48Billion. If you're advertising their goods, you should be paid for it, and don't be fooled or flattered into believing otherwise.
Have you been approached to provide content on a big brand advertiser's website or to promote a retail product on your blog?
Share your story.
Share your story.