On the 18th of July, after Carefree debuted their new Actifresh commercial that used the word “vagina” (for the first time in a TV Ad), we asked if it bothered you. There was much comment on twitter, facebook and blogs about the campaign and, of course, complaints to the Broadcast Standards Authority who this week rejected the use of the words “vagina” and “discharge” in the same sentence as being offensive.
Shortly after our first post we received an email from the PR company who represents Carefree. They requested information about Throng’s visitor numbers and our advertising ratecard. This isn’t the first time this has happened and we won’t have been the only ones to receive the request. We regularly receive inquiries from would-be advertisers, predominantly from overseas wanting to advertise across our other sites, but when it’s an email from a PR company, it will never, ever involve the transfer of funds.
While Carefree have never paid to advertise on Throng, and their advertising agency sees no value in spending money with us, the PR company is eager to take our free publicity, add our data and advertising value to their presentation and use it to impress their client to justify their not insignificant fees.
Throng isn’t alone in this. There seems to be an increasing trend where advertising agencies make excuses for not spending money advertising on niche sites because their visitor numbers, despite being reasonable, are dwarfed by sites like facebook, trademe and the “news” portals while PR companies are quite happy to take that value and monetise it for themselves quite handsomely.
Now good on PR companies for doing their jobs and working for their clients and getting them exposure. Knowing that this campaign was going to generate discussion, and potentially BSA complaints and further exposure, they’ve fairly well accomplished what they set out to do. However, the practice is unsustainable.
Internationally, brands engage with bloggers and pay for the privilege of engaging with their audiences. It becomes a win-win where content can afford to be produced and in many cases, audiences respect brands that help keep the communities they participate in alive. On the flip side, those who expect bloggers to work for them for free while others reap the rewards for their labour should expect a growing disdain for their brand. While it’s one thing to provide content that is a talking point, it’s a little useless if it can’t be monetised, and even worse if someone else is being paid in the process.