If I Make You Cringe, This Is For You

moneyI just got a great comment from Ryan. I have a brother named Ryan, so for my mom, let me clarify that this is a different Ryan. Non-brother Ryan had this to say about the product AXE sent me the other day.

Hi Mike,

i'm seeing a trend with these types of entries. These are essentially product placements, where companies send you stuff and you write about them. That's your prerogative and is a win win for you and the company i take it, but i'm curious if you have ever, or will ever, write anything negative about product you receive? (assuming you feel negatively about the product that is)

I love reading your blog, but when i see these types of posts i cringe just a little bit. It's just my opinion. When i see obvious product placements in a movie, i like that movie just a tiny bit less.

Anyway, i believe you work in marketing so i get it. I too have a background in marketing and work in media and promotions, so i get it.

Do you get these various products sent to you because of this blog (and the companies are aware of your traffic stats)or is it from the other marketing work you do?

Please don't get me wrong. I'm not judging. Just curious, and expressing my opinion.


I liked Ryan's comment so much, I've decided to answer it here where it will get more eyeballs. It's actually a subject I've given a great deal of thought.

If a company gives me product, I'll blog that they gave me product. That's the product placement that's irking Ryan. This is why Ford puts me in a car for a week every summer and why Canadian Tire gives me a tent to camp in. They want to be blogged about, and they know if they give me stuff I'll blog about it.

What they can't buy, however, is a positive review. Disney sent me to see Bolt in 3D and I trashed it on this site. I don't sell positive reviews.

Furthermore, I wouldn't review a product or mention a product on this site without disclosing that the company gave it to me. For example, you won't find a "I'm loving the new AXE shampoo" entry unless I explicitly wrote that AXE sent me the product.

I understand it's a slippery slope and I don't want this to be that kind of site, but if this hobby of mine wants to score me some free shit now and then, I'm okay with it so long as I follow my rules above.

I promise, however, to try and minimize the cringe factor as best I can. I already turn down the vast majority of offers I get because I can't envision myself using the product or I don't deem the offer or service placement-worthy. But if The Tragically Hip wants to put me in the front row and give me backstage passes so I can write about their tour, I'll likely accept the offer.

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Comments (4 - click here to join in!)


Well said Mike.

I appreciate your honesty and that you have a "code" for if, when and how you talk about product you get.

This whole social media thing is the new frontier, and smart marketers have obviously picked up on it.

Clearly i'm way more likely to get exposed to a product when you include it in the content, rather than just banner ads which most people ignore completely (i have never ever clicked on any banner ad anywhere).

Marketers have been doing this for years for radio and tv folks, but there seems to be a different set of rules in those media. Why? Because radio/tv stations are owned by mega corps, and they'd rather advertisers pay top dollar for airtime rather than the on air folks giving the promotion away for free by talking it up on air.

With social media like blogging, it's your personal site and you can monetize it any way you want. Power to the people!

I too recently started a blog, and noticed the "monetize" option that comes with the site, which i ignored because i'm pretty much the only person that reads my blog. I write to stay mentally active, but if for some reason i got a shitload of traffic and advertisers came knocking one way or the other, I'd be on board, but like you, i'd have some rules of engagement so to speak.

After all, assuming we all work for some company, we've all just "sold out to the man" to one extent or the other.

And in the work i do and have done, i've done my fair share of major whoring for large corporations and their sponsors over the last several years. But the worst part is that in the midst of some of this whorish behaviour, i didn't get paid nearly enough of what i should have been paid consider the dollars that i'm sure we're being handed from the sponsor to the company i work(ed) for.

Which just makes me a cheap whore.

April 2, 2010 @ 12:34 PM


Well, I read your blog for free several times a week...

So if you are able to score some free stuff out of this - I say good for you.

I think it is totally appropriate to write 'Axe gave me free stuff this week. I like it/don't like it.'

And as you say, it's not as though you're not upfront about it.

April 2, 2010 @ 2:06 PM


I'm immediately offering my services to iTravel200.com to say they've sent me and my family to the Caribbean.

Nothing wrong with posting about products you've been sent as long as you're honest about it and it doesn't sway your opinion of it.

I can see where some cycnisim would come from many tech sites get products to review, rarely post negative reviews and the keep the evaluation unit. I've reviewed products on a site in the past and always returned the products when done with them.

By the way I liked Bolt.

April 2, 2010 @ 6:49 PM


Nothing wrong in what you're doing. As long as you keep it honest, which I believe you always have, not an issue at all.

April 2, 2010 @ 10:20 PM

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