The Freebie Generation #BloggerBlackmail

I’m not denying I love a freebie but the firestorm on social media about the relationship between one blogger looking to review a company’s sweets has dented the reputation of bloggers. We aren’t freebie hunters, we just love writing about our passion. So who is right, the blogger or the bakery?

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It seems on the face of it, the blogger is in the wrong. The story goes as follows:

The blogger contacted the bakery regarding a product review. This doesn’t seem out of the ordinary so far. The member of staff this blogger spoke to was unaware this review was happening yet offered her a hot drink and a selection of 8 macarons and marshmallows. The blogger was unhappy with the amount of product saying “thank you, but how about a few of the larger selection boxes, one each of macarons, marshmallows, and a third of the miscellaneous items you have”.

Meringue Kisses

Here’s my personal problem with this. You say yourself that the company is a small one yet you demand that they give you £100 worth of product for free for a review on your blog. This blogger said that she thought she was worth more than 8 macarons and marshmallows. Maybe it’s just my upbringing but if I was given 8 macarons and marshmallows, I would be so thankful. The blogger further goes on to say that each blog post takes her 8 hours to write. I don’t think the amount of product you have to review changes how long it takes to write the post because if you were a true blogger, you would be passionate about the product whether it’s just 1 macaron or an entire bakery’s worth of macarons.

The whole point of a freebie is to entice, whet the appetite and excite the customer to buy more of their product, so I think the little selection box was sufficient.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it. The blogger is wrong. Well not exactly.

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Yep even Marie from Bake Off is shocked!


The bakery then decides to make a post regarding the situation and new information comes to light about angry Instagram posts slating their products as well as the blogger threatening to give a bad review if the staff did not hand over the £100 worth of product.

Diana

Clearly both parties are wrong here. Here’s what the bakery did wrong:

  • The company should have remained professional and never written this post, nor refer to someone’s pride and joy as a “blackmail-blog-that-almost-sounds-like-a-porn-site”
  • The bakery constantly refers to the blogger as “insignificant”; the wrong word to use because no blog is ever insignificant
  • If the blog was ‘insignificant’, was it the right decision to work with them?
  • It seems that the bakery’s heart was never in it from the start, so why follow through? If you only wanted it for the SEO backlink, was it the right choice?
  • The member of staff dealing with the blogger should have phoned the owner immediately if they didn’t know about her visit
  • As the professional company, you should have clarified the details; as a constant worrier and perfectionist, I would have needed these details before arriving
  • And it’s MACARON not MACAROON

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Now here’s what the blogger did wrong:

  • You should have been more professional with how you dealt with the situation; you’ve been to multiple high-end establishments (which you namedrop so smoothly) but you sounded very rude to the staff
  • Maybe it’s a difference in upbringing but an 8 piece selection box worth around £15 for free would please anybody; the expectation for a small bakery to give away £100 worth of product was odd
  • The customer may always be right but you should never threaten a company with a negative review if they didn’t give you the products
  • You didn’t need to slate their product on social media to retaliate, this was unnecessary
  • You should have clarified the details before visiting, such as stating the date of arrival and the approximate time, I would have had these details confirmed beforehand

 

Reviewing products on blogs is always a sticky situation, much like the macarons and marshmallows in this case. I would love to review products but cases like this make bloggers seem like free food hunters and this is so wrong. I would never contact a company unless I truly felt passionate about their products because everything that I write on my blog comes from the heart.

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And spare a thought for small bloggers who spend hours on end working painstakingly hard for little reward. They don’t blog expecting a reward but because they love it. Bloggers write about their passion to share with the world and if you just want free stuff, you’re in the wrong business.

So tell me in the comments below what you make about the whole situation.

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7 thoughts on “The Freebie Generation #BloggerBlackmail

  1. TO

    It seems like they misunderstood each other at a pretty basic level.

    The bakery heard ‘review’ and presumably thought it was, well… a review… i.e., impartial, third party critique, this person wants for their own reason to interview me for their own business reasons (maybe she thinks photos of my beautiful treats will draw traffic to her blog) and I think I’ll cooperate and try to make a good impression since this could be nice for me, too… Maybe a little gift bag with a couple of macaroons would be OK as a curtesy and be small enough that it doesn’t count as a bribe?

    Meanwhile, the blogger is thinking, nice, I’ve been hired to work for the bakery, to produce a PR article for the bakery, it’s great that I have a client to work for today, I hope they’re good since that’s a lot more enjoyable, and obviously I will be paid by them for my labour, since after all I’m producing advertising for them, and we haven’t discussed the details yet but I estimate it to be worth somewhere around a hundred pounds more or less, which I’ll ask for in kind rather than cash.

    If they’re coming from such completely different angles no wonder each found the other’s assumptions to be completely shocking and insulting! A lot of lessons to take 1) Talk details ahead of time! Don’t assume what you’re thinking is obvious and 2) As a reader, figure out whether you’re reading an actual review or a paid marketing piece, because you may not have even realized that was a ‘thing’.

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    1. AndrewintheKitchen Post author

      You phrase it so well, thanks for this comment! I agree that they came from different angles and your first lesson to take was the most important one, miscommunication (as many other bloggers have said) was the problem in this situation.

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  2. connie

    This whole situation is so cringeworthy! Like you, I write because I’m passionate about food and writing (love to talk too much) and if I do get something for free it’s just an added bonus!

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  3. Jerry Z

    There seems to be a debate around “comparing both sides Of the argument.” 

    However, the bakery in question is a business. 

    The business agreed to invite a review by a blogger, of its products, premises & service. This is a business decision.  The business was found to be wanting in every area from food that is clearly unappealing, no fresh stock and a poor attitude to a blogger whom they had agreed to invite. Try treating a professional food critic in that way.

    The business also assumed that this would be a cheap form of marketing and attempted to obtain an even  cheaper deal possible. 

    Almost all bloggers agree that the time taken to attend a review, write up and produce photographs that a food magazine would be proud of, takes a considerable amount of time.

    The business’s behaviour to a blogger at the time of the review and subsequently can be considered unprofessional at best and downright shoddy at worse.

    I as a potential customer would seriously be very wary of visiting their premises, wary of how I might be treated were I not satisfied with their products and very wary of spending money in such an establishment. 

    The purpose of a food blogger is to tell it like it is so that paying customers can make informed choices. A smart business should have been capable of rising to a marketing challenge at least for the review. 

    This business failed on every level and to compound their failure felt that attack is the best form of defence. 

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      1. AndrewintheKitchen Post author

        Thanks for your comment. I’d like to say that this is a one off case but realistically I think this goes on all the time, comments like the ones made by the bakery are wholly unacceptable and it’s a shame that some people are supporting the bakery

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