About a month ago, I attended the TCM Classic Film Festival with Sophia. We received VIP passes (which cost about $1000 each), and had access to a Buick LaCrosse for the week.
For years, I have been making fun of your sponsored posts and blogging with integrity badges, so I was expecting someone to make a joke at my expense. But no one did. I guess you get more people unfollowing you on Twitter for making a breast-feeding joke than pimping Buick all week with those annoying hashtags. Apparently, no one even blinks, or cares.
I contacted my snarkiest blogging friend and asked, “What’s up?! I expected YOU to make a sarcastic comment.”
But no. Even mean bloggers are nice when it comes to blogging opportunities.
“I didn’t want to screw anything up for you,” said Mr. Not Nice Blogger. “This was General Motors! Big time!”
Before I accepted the tickets, I knew I was going to have to act professional during the event, so I promised myself to wait a month, and then reveal “the true story” to my dear readers, exposing the conflicts that I had with the PR bullies out to steal my soul.
The month is now up, but sadly, I have no gossip. It was all a positive experience. I was really lucky to get the gig. I even befriended one of the GM people on Twitter.
I was lucky in another way. The product was a luxury car. What could I say bad about it? It had leather seats and top of the line accessories, and it drove perfectly. I certainly wasn’t equipped to put it through a barrage of road tests, or test it on icy roads. I spend most of my time in the car sitting in slow Los Angeles traffic listening playing with the XM satellite radio stations, and trying to convince Sophia that we should “do it” in the back seat so I could blog about it. And my neighbor was jealous of my “new car.” What could be better than that?
The big question remains — what if the car sucked? Would I have had the “integrity” to say so on my blog? Wouldn’t you see me as an asshole to accept free tickets and a free car, and then stab GM in the back? What would be the point? Wouldn’t I just be blacklisting myself from ever working with them again?
I’m no shining beacon of truth. I would have probably said the ride was comfortable if I was given a rickshaw for the week. I was lucky that I was able to be honest with my statements about the car. I don’t know if I would have the balls to say anything bad about any product if I was first wined and dined by the company.
And would my readers really care what I said? Probably not. They all know that it is one big game. I think many of us are beginning to see corporate sponsorship as a sign of success. Would I work with GM again? Absolutely! Hey, why not have Sony sponsor next year’s Christmahanukwanzaakah Holiday concert? Would you want that? Would they be OK with that one blogger who sings a X-rated Christmas song? Or a song titled F-U, Sony Christmas?
And what does this have to do with writing? Not much.
And that is the big issue. Can all these bloggers monetizing their blogs by becoming brand ambassadors keep their position with these corporations if they honestly say something critical about that company’s product or policy? Or is it all just a game?