It’s war in bloggerville tonight! I just got home and read a few emails from fashion bloggers calling my attention to a post that Jezebel put up tonight at 8:40pm (GMT). Seems they are a little bemused by an invite to the Ann Taylor loft preview for bloggers. Supposedly Ann Taylor was “encouraging” bloggers to attend the event for freebies and also offering gift cards between $50 and $500 for those who posted writeups on their blogs and emailed the PR within 24 hours of the preview. Now why is all of this relevant? Well if you are a blogger in the US you will be very well aware of a certain new law published by the FTC that states you must declare any freebies given in association with a blog post that could be seen as promoting the product. Now how anyone would intend to prove one has broken code on this, I don’t know. I suppose it’s an ethics issue.
Regardless of the law, there have been some pretty big responses to Ann Taylor’s promotion.
The LA Times Blog had this to say –
“Granted, in the Wild West environment that is the fashion blogosphere, the ethics of news journalism are often flouted. And it must be frustrating for brands when they invite a pack of indie bloggers to an event and see little-to-no coverage of it. Still, this mixing of Church and State is promoting pay-to-play journalism, which — at least in my mind — is an insidious and worthless breed. If writers can be swayed by gifts, we can’t exactly trust them to be unbiased.”
Ann Taylor‘s PR has this to say-
“Engaging the blogging community is a new way for us to communicate product information. We put a premium on the editorial media that covers our brand and we do not incentivize media for coverage. … It is not uncommon for LOFT to offer contests, promotions or special offers in-store and through various online channels to our clients, similar to other retailers.”
Clutchmagonline was quick to add to their post-
“Note: Clutch attended the preview because of an invite and upon attending the brand gave out a $10 gift card. Our sole purpose was not a gift card but to preview the collection. This is a sponsored post.”
Thatgirlattheparty is really pissed off-
“The folks at Jezebel recently libeled That Girl At The Party by trying to claim that I received a bribe from Ann Taylor in return for this post. This is blatantly not true and legal action is being reviewed. It was presumptuous of Jenna and the editors of Jezebel to simply lump reviews and claim criminal activity on the part of bloggers without real knowledge of how they came to be at this event! I was, in fact, invited by a colleague to the 5 to 9pm preview, not the blogger event. As such, I was never sent the invite with the gift card incentive, nor was I given a gift card because I didn’t even know about them. In addition in keeping with the FTC rules, I always state when I am given a product and review it. As you can see in my blurb, I fully disclosed the look book and the necklace that Ann Taylor gave me in the gift bag!”
I’d just like to say as a sidenote, and not to make this any more of a war, that I thought the pictures that were taken at the preview were pretty shite. Let’s up our game a bit ladies. You are supposed to be creative types. Don’t just snap like an amateur or you might as well retire from the blogging game now.