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Posts Tagged ‘Johnson & Johnson’

Thursday night the family had dinner with my mom at her favorite Chinese restaurant. My dad was absent, having left for his yearly trek out west and my mother was due to leave Saturday to meet my dad at their friends’ house in California.

I had told both my parents about my big win, and as we sat at the table noshing on crab legs and sesame chicken, I told my mom how that very day I had received an e-mail from Johnson & Johnson’s PR firm letting me know my specific sponsor for BlogHer would be Splenda.  I also mentioned that they very politely suggested I throw them a bone and mention Splenda when writing about my BlogHer experiences.

My mom’s face lit up at the mention of Splenda. “You know they have a great deal on Splenda at Walgreens this week. 200 packets for $5.99!”

“Wow, that is a good deal,” I said, thinking about the Splenda coupons I was pretty sure I had at home.

Mom looked at me with a sly smile on her face, “I know exactly how you can start your Splenda post,” she said.

Now I hadn’t said I was going to write a specific post about Splenda, just that J & J encouraged me to mention them, so I simply told my mom, “Oh, I already know what I’m going to say.”

“I’m sure you do,” she said, “but it would be really easy to start off saying something like, ‘I needed to pick up some Splenda and saw that Walgreens had a great deal on a 200-packet box.'”

I tried not to cringe. The whole thing sounded so commercial, like the sponsored posts I’ve come to loathe.  Most of all, it didn’t really sound like me at all.

While I have dabbled in monetizing my blogging efforts, I’ve realized I’m most happy just writing for me. I do have a review blog, on which I’ve written exactly one review, but for me that kind of writing is the exception rather than the rule.  I would prefer to attract readers because they like what I have to say rather than what I have to give away.

There’s a debate brewing, and maybe you’ve noticed it, in which commercialization and content are being pitted against one another.  Voices are emerging and decrying the glut of paid reviews, giveaways and sponsored posts that have become the mainstay of some of the more popular mom blogs.  Lindsay Ferrier of Suburban Turmoil recently wrote a post in which she lamented the disappearance of the “authentic” voices that were so easy to find on the mom blogs several years ago. She writes:

As blogging goes mainstream, mom bloggers are starting to look and sound more and more like they came straight out of a diaper ad. And frankly, the moms who don’t make motherhood seem like an 18-year-long Hallmark commercial are getting harder and harder to hear amid the babbling about whateveritiswethinktheadvertiserswantustosay.

So what do you think?  Do you think the authentic voices of the fallible, self-deprecating moms are being drowned out or do you think was it only just a matter of time before advertisers infiltrated our ranks and turned us into freebie-hungry retweeting vultures?

I think it’s a little of both. As bloggers we’re encouraged to change, to go with the flow and stay on top of whatever social trend is rocking the blogsphere, but think about last time you went to a movie and didn’t see a commercial tucked in between the previews.  When was the last time you attended a sporting event and held a cup of soda or beer that didn’t display several corporate logos?  Advertising is everywhere and it’s foolish for us to think it shouldn’t exist in this world we’ve created for ourselves.

On the other hand, if the most active product-pitching mom bloggers out there are complaining that these PR relationships are becoming a bit much, then maybe they need to step back and figure out what it was that brought them here in the first place.  Was it always about the paid reviews and the freebies or was it about finding a community and sharing their lives?  I’m willing to bet it was the latter because nobody goes into blogging to make money.  That’s just silly.

Some of the best writers out there have a relationship with one ad network or another and some have even indulged in the random giveaway (remember the Wii Fit madness at Dooce last year?) so I think it is possible for advertising and quality content to coexist.  I think what Lindsay Ferrier is saying is that we’re entering a phase in this relatively new medium called Mommy Blogging in which advertisers are controlling blog content instead of the writers.  Now that is a big deal.

So as we were sitting there in the Chinese restaurant, I tried to be polite as I declined my mother’s suggestion on how to structure the Splenda shout-out.  “That’s really not my style,” I said, knowing she has no idea at all what my style actually is.  In the nearly four years I’ve written here she has never visited.  Not once.  But that’s mostly because she can never get my dad away from their computer.

As we wrapped up our dinner, I started calculating how I could get my mom online as I continued to wonder, in spite of what I had told her, how to insert Splenda into my posts without sounding like a hypocritical hack.

I’ll let you know when I figure something out.

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We love our bottle deposit refund here in Michigan, and in most garages you will find bins overflowing with sticky piles of aluminum and plastic.  No one ever takes back just a few cans or bottles at a time because it’s much more fun to fill your cart with the bounty and wait your turn at the sorting machine.  Autumn absolutely loves the sorting machine.

Back in 1992 we had no sorting machine.  We had a counter, behind which stood two guys named Randy and Jeff.  Randy and Jeff did not like to count and thus would place implicit trust in your ability to accurately report the numbers.  If you were on friendly terms with Randy and Jeff, as I was at the time, they would sometimes fudge the numbers and give you back several dollars more than what was owed.  I bought a few good paperback novels thanks to them.

So this one day back in 1992 I’m in my bedroom gathering up my cans to take back to the store and took notice of the contest advertisement.  Win a pair of airline tickets to anywhere in the U.S., the can said.  I turned my attention to the box in which the soda had been packaged and read further.  I was to look inside each can to see if a special code was printed on the bottom.

I decided not to waste my time and started shoving the cans into a plastic bag.  I was going to get more from taking these back to the store than I ever would from some stupid contest, I thought.

I don’t know what it was that made me go back and check the cans, but I wound up pulling them out of the bag to look inside.  And there, on the bottom of one can, was a very distinct printed code; TRP.

TRP?  I looked at the box again.  TRP was a winning code.

I won?

I let that sink in for a minute as I read through the contest rules again.

Holy crap, I won!

I rushed out to the backyard where my father was and shrieked out the news. IwonIwonIwonIwonIwonIwon!  He took the can from me, examined it in the sunlight and assessed that I was not off my rocker.  It looked like I had a winner.

It took several weeks for me to hear back from the soda company once I sent the can back to them, but they finally confirmed that I had indeed won.  They sent me a letter of congratulations and a voucher for two airline tickets which my mom and I used to book a January flight to Phoenix.

Now I’m telling you that rather long story to tell you this short one.

I won!  IwonIwonIwonIwonIwonIwon!

A couple of weeks ago I entered a Johnson & Johnson-sponsored contest to win one of twenty $1200 scholarships to help pay for BlogHer expenses.  Last week I received an e-mail letting me know I was one of the winners.  Holy crap, I won!

So, having reaped a lifetime’s worth of dumb luck karma, I now have no use for lottery tickets or slot machines.

Thank you, Johnson & Johnson and BlogHer!  I will be seeing you both next week.

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