You may have heard by now that the Federal Trade Commission has revised their guides about full disclosure of “material connections” between advertisers and endorsers. Many blah blah blahs aside, this means that starting December 1, bloggers will have to reveal if they received a free product for review. Even if they received no money, the product itself is considered material goods.
I get it—this is to protect consumers from the biased testimony of paid endorsers. But when I (and most bloggers I know) receive a book or CD for review, we’re never told what to say or how to say it or even to say anything at all. Most publicists just say they hope we’ll consider the product for coverage, whatever kind that may be. When I don’t have time for a book, can’t finish it, or if it’s just not right for my blog, I don’t write anything.
Some people have written very intelligent replies to the FTC’s actions, like this article in the Wall Street Journal, but my first reaction was wanting to write a really inappropriate disclosure statement instead. (That, and wondering how long Oprah’s disclosures will be every time she talks about her favorite things.) I guess this comes from the part of me that doesn’t like to be told I have to do something.
Here’s the rough draft I’m considering:
My Review Policies
I won’t even consider reviewing your book/CD/DVD unless you send me $5,000 in $2 bills, a year’s supply of goat cheese, and a personal Mariachi band comprised of hot Latin men who will perform with no shirts on. Shoes are acceptable.
If your product is a giant turd (i.e. something starring Vin Diesel) but you want a rave review from me, that’s going to cost you a house in Malibu, preferably next to Pierce Brosnan but I will accept Suzanne Somers. Speaking of Somers, throw in a couple Thighmasters and Buttmasters, too.
When I do my review, I will use simple, monosyllable words to appeal to the lowest common denominator. If you prefer an intelligent write-up using a more advanced vocabulary, please send a bucket of chicken for every word I use containing more than 3 letters. I also need a back scratcher for itches in places I can’t reach that drive me crazy at night. Oh, and several packets of only left-footed socks (some must be toe socks) to replace all the ones the dryer monster has stolen from me.
If you don’t follow these policies to the letter, I will not only trash your product but punch you in the liver. If you adhere to these guidelines, we can have a long, meaningful relationship that can start tonight with drinks at the Polo Lounge. Anything more than that, my rate is $69 a night.
So, do you think that’s clear enough? Any questions about my intentions as a reviewer? If you’re also a blogger, what demands would you make from providers?