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I have to say, some bloggers are stupid. No, not just stupid but "thick as two planks"
A story on the wires today tells of some influential Indian bloggers who were flown to the IFA conference in Germany by Samsung -- only to find out that if they wanted to get back home, they'd have to act as fanbois for the company's products while they were there.
The bloggers were reportedly outraged that not only was their independence and impartiality being compromised, but they were also expected to act as unpaid workers.
Well "duh" -- did they not get the memo about the lack of free lunches on the Internet?
Companies like Samsung (and almost every other) are not in business to give bloggers a good time or free rides around the world just for fun.
You don't get to be as big as Samsung without demanding that every investment (even airline tickets for bloggers) has a return.
Okay, so it's not uncommon for some companies to fly the media to trade shows, conferences or whatever - with a view to getting some press coverage for their products. Indeed, I've lost track of the number of times I saw Peter Griffin's disclaimers on articles he wrote for the NZH where he admits that he was a "guest" of the company whose products he'd just written about.
While those doing such reporting might like to think that they remain totally objective, the reality is that whether consciously or not, the fact that you've just enjoyed thousands of dollars worth of travel and hospitality will always induce a certain amount of "favour" to your work.
Indeed, this is one reason that, despite having been offered numerous "invitations" over the years, I have never accepted any. Even if you don't sell your soul to the devil -- there will always be the suspicion that you might have.
But back to our Indian bloggers.
It seems that once they arrived in Germany, Samsung fronted up with some uniforms for the group and made it very clear that if they didn't tout for the company, they'd be walking back to India.
Now I have to say, if that's what really happened, it's a pretty poor show on the part of Samsung.
But the bloggers are still idiots for expecting a free lunch.
Once the whole thing turned to custard, Samsung realised that they'd really stuffed-up big time and that they were facing a new PR disaster. Imagine the effect of a bunch of disgruntled bloggers preparing to spill the beans on Samsung's ransom attempts -- how would that go down in the blogosphere?
The company then offered to immediately fly the bloggers straight back to India, several days ahead of schedule, so long as they didn't spill the beans on the fiasco that had ensued.
Well, you know bloggers -- once home they spilled their guts, forcing Samsung to make a formal statement to the media in which they described the whole thing as a "misunderstanding" and claiming to respect the independence of bloggers and their rights to publish whatever they want".
Cue Tui's ad.
Hmmm... compulsory fanboism -- I thought Apple had a patent on that. I can see a new law-suit headed Samsung's way.
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