Over on Atlantic Yards Report this morning, in a post called Blogfest Meets Shillfest, Norman Oder reports on last night’s Brooklyn Blogfest at the Brooklyn Lyceum, an event we were boycotting on principle. In its first couple of years, though rather disorganized, the motley gathering had some charm to it. Based on Oder’s report, though, it sounds like it’s run its course. We decided weeks ago not to attend, because it was becoming clear to us that that the event’s organizer and some of the other participating bloggers had completely sold out to the evening’s sponsor, Absolut, which was using the blogfest to launch its new Spike Lee-branded line of vodka. (From AYR: “I’m not going to get into gentrification, but goddamn,” [Lee] said, musing about “white linen tables” on Lafayette and DeKalb avenues. Then he corrected himself: “This is to celebrate Absolut, so we’re not going to get into gentrification tonight. Sorry, Absolut.”) An email we received a few weeks ago (posted in full on the jump) described a program whereby bloggers would be given a Flip video camera and some other Absolut swag in return for blogging and tweeting about the new brand of vodka. A number have done so and we’ve yet to see a single instance of disclosure; nor has the event’s organizer, Louise Crawford of Only The Blog Knows Brooklyn, been forthcoming about the backroom deals. (Here‘s where she should have mentioned the payola deal.) This wasn’t just a matter of a company donating some booze and getting to hang their banner in return; there’s nothing underhanded about that. It was a full-fledged sell-out with paid-for but undisclosed editorial pimping. We’re certainly in favor of bloggers finding innovative ways to get compensated for all the hard work it takes to maintain a blog, but in order to maintain any credibility they need to be transparent about who’s buttering their bread; readers can be a pretty understanding bunch as long as they believe you’re being straight with them. Based on the play-by-play on Atlantic Yards Report, the night ended up being much more about promoting Absolut than about blogging. Here’s how Sunset Park Chronicle described it in a tweet: “brooklyn blogfest–the creative unite…or become captive audience for spike lee’s absolute vodka fest. Weird.” And here’s another disgusted tweet. Norman Oder has posted a question to Crawford on the New York Times, where’s she’s featured this week in a piece called “Ask The Brooklyn Blogger.” It’ll be interesting to see how she responds. Update: Louise Crawford has published a post addressing the Absolut sponsorship issue. Like a few others in this thread, she is either misconstruing or purposefully obfuscating the core of our criticism: We’re not against sponsorship or advertising (obviously, given that it’s how we make our living), but we are against promotional blog posts and tweets for remuneration that are not identified as such.
Email, May 5, 2010
Invite to Collaborate with ABSOLUT + Spike Lee
As you sit at your desk blogging about the latest and greatest in Brooklyn lifestyle and real estate, we’d like to offer you inspiration of the liquid kind. As the world’s most iconic vodka, ABSOLUT has built itself on the philosophy that creativity inspires excellence evidenced in everything from the brand’s place in modern day mixology to the history of collaborations with artists dating back to Andy Warhol and Keith Haring. As we enter into a new artist collaboration with Spike Lee, we are reaching out to you as the creative forces behind Brownstoner with what we believe is an interesting proposition.
Over the last several months, we have been collaborating with famed director and Brooklyn beloved Spike Lee, on a one-of-a-kind project that serves a veritable love letter to Brooklyn. As a creative visionary and voice of your community, we’d like to let you in on the secret by asking you to join us in a viral, underground effort. By agreeing to participate, you will sign on to celebrate Brooklyn in a manner befitting of this beloved borough, and will receive exclusive access to product, information and events before anyone else. In addition, we will ensure that your name and your blog are a very special part of all the big news.
We have also recently been working with Louise Crawford of Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn on her Fifth Annual Brooklyn Blogfest and are hoping you will help us reveal the announcement there, on June 8.
More specifically, we would be offering you:
Â· A feature as our Blogger of the Week on ABSOLUT VODKA’s Facebook page (reaching half a million fans!)
Â· VIP access to a celebrity event in Brooklyn we are planning for early June
Â· Special call-out as a key collaborator during the Fifth Annual Brooklyn Blogfest on June 8
Â· Gift of a Flip camera to capture all the action this summer
Â· Gift of product that has yet to hit store shelves
And in turn, we want to leverage your creativity through:
Â· Your participation at the Fifth Annual Brooklyn Blogfest on June 8
Â· Three dedicated blog posts throughout the summer
o One story that we will unveil at Blogfest on June 8
o Two other posts inspired by the project
o Agreement to carry an ABSOLUT blogger badge on your first post
Â· Tweets, Facebook posts & Four Square activity when appropriate, to promote the blog posts/program throughout the summer
Â· And most importantlyâ€¦
We want your thoughts, ideas, feedback and excitement towards the program. ABSOLUT collaborations are wholeheartedly just that a collaboration. If you are interested in joining us for the celebration, please let us know by May 12. We will be bringing all collaborators together on May 13 or 14 to share all the details. More to follow!