WIMN’s Voices: A Group Blog on Women, Media, AND…

Shilling or Being Savvy? Mommy Bloggers Take a Sponsored Road Trip

dfarsettas Icon Posted by Diane Farsetta

July 25th, 2008

If a group of “mommy bloggers” tries to drive more traffic to their websites by taking part in a corporate-sponsored road trip, is it problematic?

I’m not sure… but I do know that marketers consider mommy bloggers to be “tech-savvy media pros who work cheap and have a direct link to a demographic that spends more than $2 trillion a year,” according to Advertising Age (from February 26, 2007; emphasis added).

I happened across the “Silicon Valley Moms Group Summer Road Trip ‘08” while looking at what kind of fake news my friends in the public relations world are putting out these days. The video below — from General Motors — uses the moms as props in a Chevy Tahoe commercial disguised as news. (”Not just a Tahoe, but a hybrid Tahoe!” the narrator emphasizes.)

The moms got the car for free, according to the disclosure on their website. The disclosure adds, “We don’t do product reviews on our blogs. So what you won’t see blogged from this road trip is detailed information or opinions about the gear our sponsors have provided to make the trip happen.”

OK, but apparently they are helping their sponsors — including Weight Watchers, which strikes me as a less-than-empowering message to their presumably-mostly-female audience — get stealth ads on news shows.

Yup, believe it or not, TV stations do use those cheesy videos. Actually, it’s getting even worse, with increasing numbers of morning news shows signing product placement deals, as the Las Vegas Sun and New York Times reported this week.

Maybe the moms are just being savvy about how to get their message out. But I can’t help but think that commodification of a community cheapens it somehow. Plus — as fellow WIMN’s Voices blogger Anne Elizabeth Moore has pointed out — people who participate in these type of deals do the work of corporate marketers, without getting the pay that “real” corporate marketers do.

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