Case Study – How Samsung Wanted To Turn Bloggers Into Brand Ambassadors

by Oliver Klimek on September 3, 2012

The delicate symbiotic relationship between bloggers and industry has been an issue here a couple of times. Now here is an example how an invite to a trade show can turn into a blogger’s worst nightmare.

The Next Web reports how Samsung invited Indian tech bloggers to the important IFA show in Berlin. There were a few warning signs in the weeks leading up to the event, but it was only after they arrived in Berlin where they were told that Samsung expected them to wear their uniform and to be present at the Samsung booth on all days to present the company’s products. Refusal to comply resulted in the threat of return tickets being cancelled.

This is tech and not whisky, and I am not aware of a whisky blogging incident that would be even remotely comparable to the Samsung trip; nor do I believe that something of this scale is ever going to happen. But an incindent like this clearly demonstrates that bloggers are never invited by the industry out of pure altruism. They are treated to something special, but being multiplicators they also play a role in the company’s marketing strategy.

Bloggers should be very careful that accepting an invite would never compromise their independence. On the other hand, the industry should be just as careful not to instrumentalize bloggers to an extent that they become puppets of the marketing department. Or else it may seriously backfire on them.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Pieter September 3, 2012 at 10:28 am

Perhaps setting up a simple contract saying that hotel and flights are taken care of by samsung, without having to return a favor. Except perhaps to write about their new stuff in a independant way on their blog.

Lesson learned I guess!?

Their return flights and stay are funded by another company. So nothing is in their way to make this public. Seems very bad publicity now as (I’d guess) several bloggers will put their 2 cents in it.

Reply

Steffen Bräuner September 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm

There is no such thing as 100% independent bloggers, especially not in whisky which is a fan culture basically.

Some bloggers are more independent than others for sure :-) I have my own list

Steffen

Reply

Oliver Klimek September 3, 2012 at 3:32 pm

I get your point. But it also depends on how you define ‘independent’. Quite a few bloggers mainly report on whisky and events that they got for free or were invited to. So you could say they are not independent, but the real issue is how they deal with this situation. Will they call bullshit bullshit, even if they got it for free? You could also ask: Would they carry on blogging about whisky, if the freebies stopped? This is where the wheat separates from the chaff. And then we have bloggers who turned from amateurs into professionals or even independent (sic) bottlers.

I for one try to have a relaxed approach. I have never turned down a freebie, but I am not unhappy that I am rarely offered them. I know that I was erased from distribution lists or never even got on them because of what I wrote, but I don’t reagard this as a personal failure ;)

Reply

whisky lassie September 4, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Aha! Great blog topic Oliver!

Being fairly new to this “blogging” world, I made the decision ahead of time to be as independent as I could. “IF” distilleries or ambassadors enquire or want to send me samples for review, I warn them ahead of time that I always post honestly: Good or bad.

As for being sent to whisky events (that has not happened as of yet), nobody rides for free?! OF COURSE a company will expect something from someone who has their expenses completely paid by them. They don’t go around shelling out thousands a dollars a year for free?! I think, personally, it becomes the responsibility of the blogger to get it straight, in writing, as to what the contract and/or agreement is, better yet, ask for it in writing. That way both parties are clear as to what the expectations are.

That’s my opinion… For what it’s worth :)

Johanne

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: