Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Of Lavender And Blogging

I've been summoned back to the UK just as I was getting used to my exile in foreign parts.

I finally realised I'd gone a bit native yesterday evening, as I was wandering through the sun-dappled vines among terraced vineyards cascading down ancient hills, an armful of lavender in one hand and three ripe purple figs in the other. If only I'd been taller and prettier, and wearing a flowery dress instead of black vest, jeans and battered iPod, I could have been mistaken for an 'ambient media' advert for L'Occitane.

Although if I had been, L'Occitane would have been wasting their money, because for an entire hour and half I didn't see another person.

Anyhow, back I come on Monday, so that I can meet up with the tutor, who wants to discuss some 'minor' issues (his inverted commas) with my dissertation. I'm a bit worried about those inverted commas; they look like sarcasm. But he did alert me to this week's New Statesman cover story, which is all about how big business is paying bloggers to say nice things about their products. It's well worth a read, although I do notice an almost complete lack of concrete information about how many bloggers are doing this kind of thing, and how much they're actually getting paid (rather than how much they hope they're going to get paid).

Sooo....has anyone tried If so, does it actually pay up? How much is my reference to L'Occitane above worth? How much more would it be worth if I gave them a link? But what if I said that every time I go into their shop in Béziers (ker-ching), I see lots of things that seem very nice (ker-ching), but on further investigation, they also seem very overpriced (oh) and not quite as special as they make them out to be (ah)?

And how can L'Occitane be sure that my blog will always be a good standard-bearer for its brand? If they pay me to say nice things about them, will I still be able to write about going to court for not paying my council tax, being tear-gassed in Park Lane, or - erm - experimenting with hallucinogenic substances? Or will I be condemned to talk for all eternity about wandering through the sun-dappled vineyards with armfuls of lavender and a basket of freshly-fallen almonds? I think cello probably has the answers. Cello?


nibus said...

Scant L'Occitane action (try saying that after a bottle of muscat) on - looks like they want to bury the fact that you'd get paid for writing up their 'opportunities' - and bury your paid posts within your own real blog. Although it would swiftly become obvious what you were up to (Today I lanced the cat's boil/Today I found this great SEO opportunity!! Click here!!). Mind you, they only want it to be 'reasonably coherent'...

Annie said...

It sounds more like a Flake advert to me.

I notice that Payperpost offers 4 whole dollars to promote the 'William Shatner DVD Club'.

patroclus said...

Nibus: quite right, anyone would be able to tell that I was being paid by

Annie: it does sound like a Flake ad, doesn't it? Brrr.

I'm not being paid by L'Occitane, just in case anyone was wondering. All praise for products and services provided by the Capitalist Machine springs from a genuine enthusiasm for said products and services, and t'will be ever thus.

Sean McManus said...

That William Shatner thing can't add up, surely? If you get paid US$4 to talk about it, surely that means you can afford two memberships? Oh, you mean they price it at what *they* think it's worth...

LC said...

It's a silly idea and Payperpost will almost certainly tank within 12 months. Blog endorsements are only considered valuable because they represent unbiased opinion from real front-line consumers.

Once it becomes obvious that bloggers are plugging brands for cash, the value of their endorsements will become worthless and nobody will pay for them any more.

Furthermore, if the most a blogger can earn is a few dollars per mention, it's going to be practically impossible to make any real money out of this unless they turned their blog into a constant stream of pretendorsements(tm), and who's going to read that?

Glad you're coming back btw, although I suspect for you it'll be a bit like that Buffy episode where she gets resurected from the dead, and all her friends are really happy to see her again but she's all pissed off because they dragged her out of heaven. Possibly.

Oblig. Simpsons Quote: "I heartily endorse this event or product"

Tim Footman said...

I just have an image of Vanessa Paradis running through a meadow and her frock falling off.

Sorry, where was I? Oh yeah. Surely the only way to make this work - bloggers maintaining credibility, but still getting paid to say nice things - is for them to remain unaware of the exact nature of the Faustian pact into which they've entered. Bit like music journalists, who get freebies, drugs etc on an ad hoc basis from record companies, but there's no written quid pro quo that says "three positive mentions for a gramme" or whatever.

Oddly, the word verification is JAMKOAK which is what you get for being nice about Paul Weller.

realdoc said...

I feel the same way about L'Occitane. In the shop their stuff looks fantastic but it never quite lives up to the image at home and my kids say the soap smells of old ladies.

As for paid blog endorsements I can't see it working unless companies pay their own employees to blog positively about their products.

GreatSheElephant said...

Oh feck. And I thought I'd finished my dissertation.

And now I just have an image of Vanessa Feltz running through a meadow and her frock falling off.

cello said...

lc: pretendorsements is the best neologism I've found all year. I will be nicking it forthwith, despite your feeble attempt to slap a trademark on it.

I have no answers for you P. The best I can offer is 'what does the contract say?'. And to remind you that when Pepsi dumped Michael Jackson as brand icon and terminated his contract they couldn't reclaim the money they had already given him prior to him bringing the brand into disrepute.

So you could try creaming off all the cash you can from L'Occitane first, and then restore your self-respect by slagging them off, after an apparent 'change of heart'.

DavetheF said...

Why don't we form a collective and offer them a whole niche market? That's got to be worth a few bucks.
Er, we are a niche, aren't we?

Billy said...

If anyone here endorsed something I'd be up for it.


In the meantime, I'm going to wander around the Bush with an armful of mint in lieu of lavender.

First Nations said...

takes a certain hubris to imagine your word has that much sway.

i won't even carry tags for what i do like or movements i support. my blog is the ME show.

patroclus said...

>>So you could try creaming off all the cash you can from L'Occitane first, and then restore your self-respect by slagging them off, after an apparent 'change of heart'.<<

Thanks cello, that gives me a super idea for mass blogger disobedience, come the day when we all have to carry ads.

Billy: I am currently endorsing ex-Bad Seed and god amongst men Barry Adamson, who's playing at the Jazz Café on Camden's swinging Parkway on the 2 and 3 October. I am *so* there, as I believe the kids say.

FN: And rightly so, although personally I've no problem endorsing things I like and/or believe in, as long as no cash changes hands.

DavetheF: We are indeed a niche, but are we a niche market, and if so, for what?

Helga von porno said...

I followed a link from a comment on my blog endorsing acne cream. It was of no interest.