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Fifth Annual Brooklyn Blogfest = first Absolut shillfest?

Oh, here's how Absolut recruited bloggers. Here's an report on the actual event.

As with the borough, the Brooklyn Blogfest sure has changed.

There's a lot of shilling for Absolut Brooklyn before the Fifth Annual Brooklyn Blogfest, which is sponsored by Absolut. And surely there will be more, thanks to Absolut's Brooklyn Stoop Life campaign, where "Bloggers Share Their Love for Brooklyn."

Absolut has generated sponsored blog posts as well as other posts that sure look like they're sponsored, since the bloggers have "been chosen to collaborate with Absolut Vodka, to celebrate Absolut Brooklyn."

Renaming Brooklyn

So let me suggest an update of John Pinamonti's classic Atlantic Yards elegy/fight song, "The Burrow."

Original version:
"It makes me mad/and it's such a pity/they're trying to rename Brooklyn/Forest City"
My update:
"It makes me mad/and for so little loot/they're trying to rename Brooklyn/Absolut"
Absolut accountability

Yes, as I wrote after last year's Blogfest, the disparate blogs of Brooklyn all have their role.

But relatively few people in the “bloggiest place in America” provide what we need most: solid civic information, "holding institutions accountable on a daily basis," to quote author, The Wire creator, and former reporter David Simon.

Still true. Absolut-ly.


  1. Thanks for the link to my video post, Mr. Oder on the "that sure look like they're sponsored" tab. I wonder if you are familiar with my blog beyond this. I'm betting, no. It's, please click around.

    Just to be clear, Absolut DID NOT SPONSOR this video or any other on my blog, no one has. I'm a filmmaker as well as a chef, and my partner and I crank out good quality on our OWN COIN, thank you very much. I have no advertisers and make a SMALL bit of change on YouTube as a content partner. A quick email could have confirmed this, but you only implied otherwise so no need to double check. Forgive the snark, but I'm feeling offended.

    So in full disclosure, I got one bottle of Vodka at the time of shooting, I later received a flip. There is some promise I'll be on their facebook page. Frankly many of my subscribers assumed I was actually getting real money for this. But, true, I did not detail my big windfall. Won't happen again, that's for sure. Always a pleasure to feel community support from fellow bloggers.

  2. Absolut engaged bloggers to promote the new vodka, in part by promising certain goodies. That's what I meant by posts that sure look like they're sponsored, and I take your belated disclosure as a recognition that there was a connection regarding that specific post.

    It doesn't mean you get rich off it. Nor does it mean that your blog isn't valuable. Nor does it mean that your blog is sponsored by Absolut. It's just an example of Absolut's "viral, underground" marketing strategy.

  3. I never ever implied there was NOT a connection to the vodka. I stated in my video that I was working with Absolut. Work means compensation. Which are certain "goodies" in this case. My "belated disclosure" was of the details NOT the connection.

    I'm still not sure what you are trying to establish here.

  4. Heather, I'm sure you think I'm splitting hairs here, but "chosen to work with" and "chosen to collaborate with" is pretty ambiguous.

    You could've won a contest, or lottery, rather than be part of their viral marketing.

    It's a well-done video.

    I'll point to today's post to elaborate my general concerns:

  5. I surely could have been clearer, but that this is in line with Brooklyner or the Barclay's Center? Really, Mr. Oder? I despise both.

    I disagree about contests. They are just another way huge corporations get content, and sometimes quality content, for free. Totally exploitive. Even if every contestant got a free flip, I would not have entered on principal.

    I chose to be part of the viral marketing, your term not mine, in a spirit of community with the Blogfest (I like Louise and what she does) and because saying I was working with Absolut offers my small blog a little credibility in the broader context of YouTube. I NEVER intended to imply there was no compensation or gain for me.

    Now if I said I discovered this wonderful product that I could make Sangria and Barbecue sauce (next video) with no mention of a collaboration or working relationship, that would be some seriously inauthentic viral marketing, but I didn't. I do think intention counts here.

    Obviously, I too, can split hairs. Thanks, hj

  6. Heather,

    Yes, intention counts. I didn't suggest that what any individual blogger did was in line with Brooklyner or the Barclays Center.

    But, as I wrote, I do think that the overall Absolut marketing effort aims (in an underhanded way) at authenticity, just as do the suite-marketers at the arena and those trying to imply that the Brooklyner is located in a brownstone neighborhood.

    The term "viral, underground effort" comes from Absolut's marketing letter.

    I'll stand by what I wrote: "Blogfest organizers should've provided some leadership. And bloggers in general are getting a reminder that even if they don't think of themselves as journalists they may have some ethical responsibilities."

    That doesn't make anyone evil. Nor does it mean they're not well-intentioned. It just means they should think things through.

    There's a lot of celebration at the Blogfest. It's a fun party for a lot of people.

    For years, though, some participants have raised questions as to whether the Blogfest--or another event--would provide an opportunity for bloggers to confront some tough questions about things like commenting, fact-gathering, and conflict-of-interest.

    See Benjamin Kabak's post from May 2008:

  7. You should stand by your statement re ethical responsibilities, it is accurate. However I think the issue was one of disorganization and ignorance and not a matter of being underhanded. I should have been more clear and not made assumptions about my audience's understanding of the situation. I can't pass that buck to anyone.

    And yes, I have lots to say about blogging that hasn't been addressed at Blogfest, I actually backed up what Kuntzman said on the mike at Blogfest 2008. I spoke right after he did.

    But, in defense of Blogfest, as someone who has volunteered and organized more than her fair share, (PTA,SLT,etc) I hesitate to bring it up, lest I'm heading up yet another labor of love. She is putting in the work, not me. I respect that. Thanks for the exchange. Take care, hj


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