Thursday, October 8, 2009

Full Disclosure

Some readers likely missed the announcement on October 6 that the FTC has set new product and service endorsement rules for blogs. We bloggers, however, straightened up and took notice.

Many bloggers, my-own-self included, were shocked, shocked I tell you, to learn that some of our less ethical peers were using their world-wide communication platforms to earn money and receive free stuff from the marketing departments of various for-profit, capitalistic firms.

See, when these devious bloggers have the chance, they sing the praises of a particular product or service, without mentioning that they are actually on the touted provider's payroll. Scurrilous, just scurrilous.

When I first learned of this practice I was so upset that I had to take a break from reading the WSJ online and kick back with an ice cold and amazingly refreshing bottle of caffeine-free Coke Zero, the only sweetener-based drink that really does provide a pick-me-up without causing caloric intake guilt. I recommend Coke Zero without reservation. I've tried the Pepsi version and it just doesn't have it going on, you know what I mean; it's kinda flat.

Where was I? Oh yeah. Anyway, marketing sharpies are constantly trying to find ways to make people buy stuff that they don't really need; worming their slimy way into the social networking arena is just the latest trickery.

Speaking of worms, my dog is now completely worm-free thanks to Interceptor Flavor Tabs, a palatable monthly tablet that has kept my dog completely free from heartworms, adult hookworms, adult roundworms and whipworm infections. I mean, this stuff is amazing. If you have a dog that you treasure and you can't stand to see him or her dragging a wormy butt across your $4,000 imported Persian, Interceptor Flavor Tabs are the answer. Of course, that's just my opinion; I'm not a veterinarian or anything, just a simple blogger.

The FTC is "...taking this nefarious endorsement practice quite seriously," according to Rick Calvert, chief executive of the blogger conference, Blog World & New Media Expo. Fines of up to $11,000 per violation can be imposed on bloggers who fail to reveal to readers that their endorsements are compensated, either through direct payment or the receipt of free goods and services.

Speaking of services, I recently experienced some of the best that I have ever had on a Carnival Cruise ship adventure to the Caribbean. Just a sensational trip, start to finish. Not a want went unattended. I've tried all the other cruise lines and, what with all of the vacationing sales managers, dentists, insurance agents, blue hairs and Midwestern families with their strange Fargo accents who usually end up at my table, they couldn't deliver the faux royalty experience that I was looking for in a four-day, three-night romantic get-a-way for under $1,000 per. But, Carnival came through with colors flying. I've even coined a slogan based on the experience: "Carnival, the cruise line for the particularly picky."

Of course, the practice of product placement in television and movies is an established and hoary marketing deceit. History suggests that product placement in movies began with the release of "Gone With The Wind" in the late 1930's. Apparently, in the scene where Rhett tells Scarlett that he "...(doesn't) give a damn", in the background, sitting on a foyer table behind Scarlett, is her Blackberry. One has to look very quickly to see it but the power of subliminal advertising is well-known among marketing gurus.

Speaking of "quickly", I want to share with you my high regard for Levitra, the erectile dysfunction drug. Those folks at GlaxoSmithKline Corporation put the "A" team to work creating this product. I mean, it's "pop the puppy and bingo", if you get my drift. I tried Viagra and found the "warm-up" time to be a real problem, often resulting in one of the necessary actors in this interpersonal drama being deeply asleep when the desired result was finally achieved. As you might imagine, this was frustrating for all concerned and sometimes necessitated single partner activity just to keep the relationship from deteriorating into late-night squabbles and finger-pointing. Eli Lilly's Cialis is O.K. but requires that the partners recline in adjoining claw-foot bathtubs of warm water while staring into the sunset for some period prior to coitus. What I found was that the soak created significant "pruning" (wrinkling, if you will) of all body parts. This "prune" look tends to work at odds with the intended result of the drug, lessening the hubba-hubba quotient of the act. No, for my ED dollar, Levitra is the one. But, that is just my opinion; I'm not a doctor or anything, just a humble shagger, I meant blogger.

Clearly, these endorsement practices by some unethical and widely-read bloggers have put me in a high dudgeon. This state-o-mind is prompted by the fact that these bloggers are both widely-read and highly compensated and I'm not. In such a state, I could just rant on-and-on-and-on. However, seeing as how Mad Men will air in a few minutes on HBO, one of the finest cable operations on the entire planet and well worth whatever your local cable provider is charging extra for the privilege of having it in your home*, and Mad Men is far and away the best thing on the telly since Bonanza, I will demur.


*Comcast provides my HBO service at no additional charge in return for certain promotional considerations. (FUFTC)

Observoid of the Day: If "The carrot and the stick" is good motivation, wouldn't "The chocolate eclair and the two-by-four" be even better?

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