17 Sep2008

I thought I had closed off the Mad Crowd Media rant with this follow-up post, but I received an email from Nestle yesterday and thought I should post it to give everyone some “air time”…

Here is the email from Nestle, Philippines (verbatim, except for names that have been crossed out):

Dear Marketman,
I have read your recent blogs about an offer of compensation made on behalf of Nestlé Philippines in return for writing a blog entry.

Upon investigation, I found out that our digital agency, XXXXXXXX, commissioned Mad Crowd Media specifically to invite bloggers to an event. XXXXXXXX has informed me that they did not know such an offer of compensation was to be made. Had Nestlé known this beforehand, we would definitely have said no.

Nestle respects the independence and integrity of journalists and bloggers.We would never knowingly condone or be a party to any such solicitations on our behalf.

Rest assured that we are taking steps to prevent such occurrences in the future.

We look forward to maintaining open lines of communication with you.

More power to you and MarketManila.com!

Very sincerely,

XXXXX XXXXX
Director of Communications
Nestle Philippines, Inc.

So there. The vast majority of readers who commented objected to the concept of “pay for editorial/post”. And both clients mentioned in the MCM emails likewise clearly state in writing that they would not condone such offers. Thank you, Nestlé Philippines, Inc., for your email and clarification.

 

COMMENTS:

  1. RoBStaR says:

    Hear that mad crowd media?? that’s the sound of the door being slammed shut by your clients..

    Sep 17, 2008 | 10:56 am

     
  2. MarketFan says:

    This is the problem with companies outsourcing too much of their communications and/or marketing requirements. They contract ad agencies who in turn pass on work to smaller outfits and they do not know anymore what happens at the bottom. Ultimately, the company should still be responsible for the output because it is their image which is at stake. How difficult is it to perform an audit of the practices of agencies working for them? Too bad they have to learn about these things through a forum like this.

    Sep 17, 2008 | 11:56 am

     
  3. BD says:

    I thought I’ll be changing coffee and creamer brands. Now, draft e-mails to news orgs just get deleted… whew!

    Sep 17, 2008 | 12:19 pm

     
  4. jzone says:

    I smell “hugas kamay” but I guess that is the SOP. I’m almost sure familiar sila sa sistema. Being a huge multinational company that knows all the tricks of the trade, gagastos ka ba na walang ROI?

    Siyempre may naka assign na to take the bullet. In this case, Mad Crowd yun. Don’t get me wrong di ako naawa sa kanila. In fact good din to para matigilan na yung mga really horrible advertorials /fake blog posts.

    Sep 17, 2008 | 1:23 pm

     
  5. James says:

    Good for you, MM, for posting everything for us to see.

    Like I said in my previous post, I don’t see anything wrong with many of these marketing strategies as long as they are transparent … FULL disclosure.

    Paid for this article? Say so.

    Got a free sample to review? Say so.

    That way we can all decide for ourselves.

    It’s the secrecy that makes it all so unethical.

    Sep 17, 2008 | 3:00 pm

     
  6. sylvia says:

    Yeah sure, Nestle.

    I agree with James. Bloggers should disclose if they were compensated in any form (cash or kind). Something like, “I got this free xxx in the mail to review and here’s what I think…”

    Sep 17, 2008 | 4:23 pm

     
  7. Trish says:

    Agree with the opinions of MarketFan and jzone! I second the motion!

    Sep 17, 2008 | 5:00 pm

     
  8. protocol says:

    Thank you for posting the Nestle email.

    It seems like the fingers are pointing at Mad Crowd, however, I think they are just being used as a scapegoat at this point.

    The bulk of editorials in the papers and other forms of media are written by paid writers. Managers who only write stories about their ‘talents’ in their column, columnists who only write about parties they are hired to ‘MC’, publicists who guise their articles as ‘reviews’ for their clients, and companies who continue the practice of paying for advertorials.

    If Nestle was wholy unaware of the practice of paid editorials, then how did the agency manage to get them to sign off on the event/promotional budget. I am sure these would be itemized.

    Sep 17, 2008 | 6:13 pm

     
  9. sister says:

    Sure, outsource the dirty work.

    Sep 17, 2008 | 6:42 pm

     
  10. mikel says:

    i agree with comments that these companies know the tricks of the trade, as it were.

    Sep 17, 2008 | 8:25 pm

     
  11. Marketman says:

    I guess the best way to look at all of this is for folks to be vigilant and raise alarm bells when something seems wrong. Remember, it takes two to tango, so if the bloggers allow themselves onto the dance floor and accept payment, then the dance is on, to the detriment of onlookers or bystanders. Again, it’s a question of integrity, credibility, etc. and if you have commercial interests, you ARE more likely to have problems remaining totally disinterested…

    Sep 17, 2008 | 8:49 pm

     
  12. [eatingclub] vancouver || js says:

    If they wanted all advertorials to stop, all Nestle and other corporations need to do is tell their PR agencies that advertorials are expressly forbidden. Hard to believe that they did not know that advertorials are being done in their name.

    In any case, this statement of theirs says all the right things to reassure consumer confidence.

    Sep 17, 2008 | 11:05 pm

     
  13. Ted says:

    That is why i never buy a product from a store if i cannot return it without getting charged a 15% re-stocking fee. I also don’t trust the product reviews from the internet (cnet,amazon, etc..), for most of the reviewers there were paid to give such high marks for the product they review, most of these reviewers do this for a living btw.

    As for services, we rely mostly on word of mouth, and blogs are in a way becoming the mouth for all of these. I read an article on YELP getting sued for removing reviews that they think are advertorial, imagine getting sued for policing your own website, amazing.

    So who do we trust now?

    Sep 18, 2008 | 5:02 am

     
  14. Emily says:

    I doubt any of us here believe for a moment that the end clients (in this case Nestlé) or even the ad agency were totally unaware that such practices are commonplace, that’s not how the business works. I agree that MCM is being used as the scapegoat here, even though they have a good chunk of bad behavior to answer for as well.

    But the good thing about the written statements of the other companies is that there is something they can be held accountable for now, if there is evidence that they transgress again (and I’m betting there will be.)

    It’s a reminder again that we should take every supposedly objective view we read (and I mean everything! Including, and especially, items in the media, both mainstream and new) with a grain of salt, and try to get our information from a variety of sources.

    Sep 18, 2008 | 5:09 am

     
  15. Acid says:

    The old Impossible Mission Force quotation “…will disavow any knowledge of your actions.” really comes to mind. If the good people at Nestle are truly distancing themselves from this, they would have implied that they have severed ties with whoever set them up for this for obvious reasons, and maybe reorganized their lazy marketing department.

    Because when the Nestle rep said they are “taking steps to prevent such occurrences in the future” we’re really not sure if what they mean is they’re going to make sure their marketing programs are honest, or they’re going to make sure the bulok system will be more discreet next time.

    Sep 18, 2008 | 10:01 am

     
  16. F says:

    I believe that the burden of policing falls not just on the shoulders of ethical writers refusing to be corrupted but just as squarely (and possibly even moreso) on those of readers screwed by a paid review. It is only when the public holds reviewers publicly accountable for the integrity of their recommendations that the practice of paid reviews will fall into obsolescence. Nothing will change a writer’s mind about paid reviews faster than a bunch of angry victims calling him out.

    Sep 18, 2008 | 10:54 am

     
  17. Grace says:

    Its quite weird though that this MCM has to name drop just to catch your attention.

    Sep 22, 2008 | 2:05 am

     
  18. Grace says:

    It only shows that they have high regards to you but definitely don’t know you, too bad..

    Sep 22, 2008 | 2:09 am

     
  19. doy says:

    Hello, I need to say something that no one in the comment boards haven’t said. I moderate a Yahoogroup called the Pinoychowhounds and we’ve had this discussion before.

    I have worked in media for more than ten years (radio, tv and advertising) and have worked in professional blogging for five. As much as I do tend to find the issue blown out of proportion, there is merit in what Marketman has said. But I must say that what the lady has written is not as malicious as it sounds. She may lack discretion and finesse. And I do find listing blogs that they didn’t ask permission for in their website to be reprehensible and irresponsible. But in my honest opinion, MM’s outrage is clearly coming from someone who’s not aware of the realities of the current practices of advertising, marketing and promotion.

    I feel something need to be clarified.

    Let me put this on a certain perspective that I think most longstanding media people (and I mean people who ply their trade in professional writing) will agree. When you go to this business, you write to be paid. You write so you can eat. Not because you are poor, but this is simply a trade. The same way Chef Gonzales and Dr. Bello are paid so they can pay their over head and afford to pay for their children’s education. The so-called prostituting yourself to the establishment is something that’s as acceptable as going to a
    pharmacist so you can get your medicine.

    Being paid to write good things isn’t corrupt. It’s just business. I am quite sure that the late great Doreen Fernandez who became my English teacher also does the “reprehensible” thing.

    But the thing is, how to write that paid review doesn’t necessarily mean changing your truth. It is your own prerogative to write it without dignity (like some columnists do) or show how it with the same aplomb and brilliance you usually do. The difference is, you only receive money for it.

    Now, I find that people who have issues with this are those who aren’t professional writers. And I don’t mean this to say for someone who write well. I just mean those who ply writing as their trade.

    If the people who condemn this sentiment should also penalize copywriters, and speechwriters. Because we’re doing the same thing. It is a job. We do this to get paid. (But please note, I’m not being paid to do this.)

    On a bigger scale, media companies develop partnerships with companies like Nestle and Unilever because they’re the ones footing the bill. I bet you can agree that newspapers, tv stations, radio and bandwidth don’t pay for itself. Ads and paid content keep media companies afloat. And media companies should strive ways and means to get their demographic so that advertisers will come to them. That’s the way it goes.

    I think approaching MM is good strategy. Because Nestle would like to reach out to your readers. Your credibility, that if you think about it, can be real valuable. But by not acting too negatively, I do think MM would have made this a win-win situation and exploited this to his gain.

    There’s an Ad Council commercial years ago that about how really advertising is what keeps media what it is today. We can all bitch about it, but it’s true. They have the money and a sizeable amount of control. I bet you, if there are other ways to do these things, then M’s outrage may have more meaning.

    That’s why I agree with the spokesperson that MM is an exception, because you can afford to maintain this lovely blog. Other people would gladly add their two cents by way of a glowing review (or maybe a few constructive criticism), accept their payment and see it as form of good karma. It is business. It is not meant as a personal attack on someone’s honor as a writer nor is it an insinuation. The same way banks can be so insinuating. But that’s a different story.

    Sep 23, 2008 | 10:19 pm

     
  20. doy says:

    And when I meant “exploit it to his gain” I thought for Nestle to give donations to his favorite charity.

    Sep 23, 2008 | 10:35 pm

     
 

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