Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Taking Shoes=Selling Out?

Corporate America is officially sitting up and taking notice of Mom Bloggers. I've seen reviews of everything from restaurants all the way up to a car one Mom was given to drive her family around in for a week.

As you know, I agreed to review the labels because I do love labels and it was fun. But I do not actually disagree with Matt that there's a sell-out factor here. I whole-heartedly agree that advertisers are imprinting their names on far too many places in America, and that part of me wants to say, "Get your grimy hands off of my blog!!!" This is why I haven't allowed ads on this blog.

But. Today I was offered some free, high-end name-brand leather shoes for the boys (we're talking fall shoes that would be in the $50-65 range, whichever ones I wanted) if I'll review them here. The company made it very clear that they want me to post my true opinion, negative or positive, which gives it a focus-group feel. I've always sort of enjoyed focus groups - except then I have to give them a couple hours of my time and the pay-off is actually less than the value of these shoes. However, maybe it's a slippery slope, and before you know it, I am boring the hell out of my readers with product reviews for cool free stuff I didn't want to turn away!

So here's the question I am grappling with today: do I just take some nice shoes for the boys and then tell you how we liked them later...or say "Screw You!" to The Man?

To be honest, I'm leaning towards taking the fancy shoes and running with it, but I really want to hear what you think about it. Really.


Christopher said...

Take 'em, as long as you really can be honest about them.

(The comment above was submitted by a blogger who would love to sell out.)

Becky said...

My reaction--only given because you asked for it because I'm not going to judge you for taking the shoes!!!--is that the labels are different because you obviously love labels and had a story to tell along with the review. The shoes? I'm not sure I see the story that could be told (but maybe there is one?).

Maybe its not selling out if you really believe in the product? And who can't believe in labels??

kristen said...

I have a couple questions, not because I'm judging you (wink wink), but because I am so curious how this came about--

First, how/why did this company contact you?

And, do they care how many readers you do or don't have?

And, are the shoes cute?

And, finally, a comment: I think a once in a while sort of philosophy applies here. It might be the kind of thing you can have fun with now and again, but I would miss reading your other more spontaneous posts should THE MAN make too big of an intrusion...

So, there, you have it.

Cara said...

Dude! They're SHOES! Who doesn't love SHOES?!?!?

(OK, so maybe you need to point your readers (and yourself!) to my last comment on shoes and take this with a grain of salt!)

But seriously, it is amazing how this whole mom blogging thing is really being noticed, though, isn't it? I wish I had a good answer for you, Jordan! If they genuinely want a serious review (which I am sure you are comfortable with), it might be a great way to let other moms know about a product - good, bad or indifferent.

So, that's a long way of saying, "I don't know!" :-) I guess.


Jordan said...

Thanks for all these insightful (and funny) comments! Keep 'em coming, I'm really curious to hear what people think because I'm on the fence about this issue.

However, after seeing Michael Moore's latest extravaganza "Sicko" last night (which I highly recommend), the cynical side of me is a bit more sharply focused right now.

In answer to Kristin's questions:

1/2. I think I got contacted as a member of the Chicago Moms Blog - not sure, but I'm guessing, because I didn't get these offers until I joined them. Although the email is full of praise for my personal blog, I am 99% sure they haven't visited it. I should forward you the letter to see. I am sure if they knew the small number of readers I have every day (compared to the more popular blogs) they wouldn't bother sending me two pairs of $60 shoes!!)

3. Yeah. The shoes are pretty cute. I'm not going to say the brand because that's some free advertising for them, but I once bought them when they were on sale . So I do legitimately like them, but not enough to buy them often.

4. I agree! I wouldn't want to overrun my blog with reviews. That would be lame.

I think what I've decided is just to do it when it's a product I really love and that I'd be buying anyway. Which doesn't really apply to these particular shoes.

Shan said...

Awhile back I read somewhere online (can't remember where, sorry) that all those e-mails are total form letters and the people have never read the blogs they send to, even when they say things like "love your site!"

That's neither here nor there, to me. If I wanted the product, I'd take it, and review it honestly. If I had no desire for the product (i.e., if it was something I'd never, ever use or need), I wouldn't. Personally, I wouldn't feel conflicted about this ethically. It seems like a pretty straight-forward "business" arrangement to me. That wouldn't bother me a bit.

Jordan said...

Thanks for your input, Shannon! It was totally a form letter - I have no doubt at all that they've never seen my little blog...I imagine they got the names of those of us who write for Chicago Moms Blog and added us to their roster. If they knew what a small operation I was, I do not think they'd be offering me two pairs of $60 shoes!

But I think your statement about it being a straightforward "business" arrangement is the crux of it for me. It absolutely would be, I agree. But is that appropriate on a personal blog?

I hate the fact that every ball park and stadium in the US has some stupid corporate name attached to it (which changes every time a company gets bought out), and that there's almost nowhere to go to escape ads (and I don't even watch TV or listen to much radio!).

Now, one could surely argue that it's not technically advertising if I am just reviewing it on a blog, especially if I give a product a negative review -- but then there's the "no such thing as bad advertising" theory...just by talking about them I'm increasing their name recognition in the market.

I still flip back and forth a bit. At the hairdresser's today, the 20-something stylist thought it was the best deal she ever heard of and didn't even consider that someone wouldn't do it, making me feel that I am over-thinking it. But my intuition says that it's not quite right.

Does that make sense to anyone else??

Shan said...

Hmmm, I see what you're saying about my "business arrangement" comment, and I do think that for sure this is an advertisement (even if you give a bad review). But, I'm with your hairdresser! I guess that's because, even though ad revenue is different from getting blog-swag, I'd LOVE my little personal blog to become a revenue stream for my family! I consider blogging for pay (any kind of blogging, whether it's personal or for a commercial site) freelance writing, which is my dream job. So....OK I don't know where I am going with this. Oh yeah: take the shoes. :)

Mrs. Chicken said...

Take. The. Shoes.

Mommybloggers (eh, that term) are influencers. I trust you; I feel I "know" you. The folks who manufacture and sell goods are going to find a way to advertise to me with or without you. I'd prefer to know your honest opinion about what I may or may not buy.

Take the shoes.

Jordan said...

Okay, okay! I have taken the shoes! Kind of exciting to choose $130 worth of free shoes for the boys for this fall - yikes. I'll let you all know what I think.

Cassie said...

Free shoes! I definitely need to start blogging more!(I know I'm chiming in a little late here). And how can I get in on the free label action? I love those darn Mabel's Labels with the cute little pictures and dishwasher-safe adhesive!