I thought I could come up with a funny post if I found out that Dockers/Levi Strauss — the company that was screwing me over with their fake free-flight promotion and making it difficult for me to go to BlogHer — was actually a sponsor of BlogHer. Unfortunately, I struck out. They’re not.
But — jeez, BlogHer has a lot of corporate sponsors on their website. How much do each of them have to pay to get in on this? It is nice that corporations are so willing to help their female customers. I don’t want to be cynical and suggest it is all markeing. But will these same companies be there when the products break down? Or will you then be talking to Menuel from India on the phone? Maybe companies should spend less money on social media experts and marketing to us on Twitter and conferences, and more on hiring customer service representatives.
Anyway, like I said, this would have been a funnier post if Dockers/JCPenney was a sponsor of BlogHer. The only interesting tidbit I found out about BlogHer is that the major platinum sponsor of the San Franciso, California conference is General Motors, the company directly responsible for 30% of all carbon emissions in California.
“This year’s sponsor line-up is a testament to top-tier brands realizing the necessity of reaching influential women who have shifted their attention to online sources of information and entertainment, and taking a proactive approach to reach them through our conference,” said Jory Des Jardins, BlogHer co-founder and president of strategic alliances. “BlogHer’s annual conference provides the perfect platform for marketers and advertisers to connect directly with consumers and create relationships with key influencers. The conference presents an opportunity to learn firsthand what these women are all about.”
Enjoy the fresh California air.
Luckily, there are some some corporations that do try hard to please their customers. Over the past three years, I’ve received some very nasty comments from Olive Garden servers on my blog, all because of one 2005 post where Sophia and I discuss sharing the “unlimited soup and salad.” I have been called “cheap,” “miserly,” “an asshole” and several names unfit to print. After complaining to Olive Garden executive offices, I received a phone call from the CEO himself. He was “shaking in his boot,” to use the old term, knowing the far reach of “Citizen of the Month.”
Olive Garden CEO: “What can I do for you to make this up to you? Your sarcastic comments about our fake Italian atmosphere and cheapo wine is killing our business! I can give you a special VIP card that will give unlimited free soup and salad bars for the rest of your life! How about that?”
Neil: “I do enjoy your minestrone soup, but how many times in a week can any one person go to Olive Garden? That VIP card would get as much use as my 24-Hour Fitness Card.”
Olive Garden CEO: “Name your price. I know you are big in the mommyblogger community. Our franchises are half-empty because of your power.”
Neil: “I don’t want your money. If anything, the rudeness didn’t come from the corporate offices, but from the Olive Garden servers themselves. I know some of them need this job to work their way through their community colleges, but they were the ones who called me those horrible names on my blog.
Olive Garden CEO: “I’m sure we could figure out a way for the Olive Garden servers to make it up to you in a reasonable manner.”
Neil: “Actually, I do have an idea.”
Several months later, Playboy published this pictorial.
While I respect Olive Garden for their responsive customer service, and admit that some of their servers are cute (but probably too young for me), your restaurant still sucks.
Update: Just wanted to add that this Playboy pictorial, “Girls of Olive Garden” is true. Kendra Wilkinson, one of Hugh Hefner’s “girlfriends,” loves Olive Garden so much, she suggested this idea to “Hef.”
Here is a video of Kendra talking about her favorite restaurant. The only reason I include it here is to fight against the fallacious stereotype that Playboy bunnies are really stupid. In fact, if Olive Garden sponsored BlogHer next year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her as one of the speakers on the “Monetizing Your Video Blog” panel.