Brownstoner and Atlantic Yards Report post today about their outrage over the “selling out” of Brooklyn Blogfest.
Brownstoner: We decided weeks ago not to attend, because it was becoming clear to us that that the event’s organizer and some of the other participating bloggers had completely sold out to the evening’s sponsor, Absolut, which was using the blogfest to launch its new Spike Lee-branded line of vodka.
Atlantic Yards Report: When Lee spoke–some not-unentertaining musings about Brooklyn–a giant bottle of Absolut served as the backdrop, as shown in the photos by Adrian Kinloch. And after Lee offered a few choice words about housing cost, his parents’ $40,000 brownstone (40 years ago), and the time “Fort Greene was Fort Greene,” he ran into some internal conflict.
“I’m not going to get into gentrification, but goddamn,” he said, musing about “white linen tables” on Lafayette and DeKalb avenues. Then he corrected himself: “This is to celebrate Absolut, so we’re not going to get into gentrification tonight. Sorry, Absolut.”
For the record, we (and most Brooklyn blogs) were approached by PR/marketing agency Ketchum about this promo stunt at Blogfest a few weeks ago. We declined the “deal” offered by the agency to post 3 times about the Blogfest et al as outlined in their pitch letter (published here on Brownstoner) for a free FlipCam. However, we added that we would be interested in covering the release of the vodka as a news story if warranted. And since it would be interesting content for our readers, we requested interviews with Mr. Lee and Brooklynite Lemon Anderson.
This sort of exchange between PR/promo folks and editorial goes on every day at most major media outlets. The difference here is that bloggers were approached under the guise of Blogfest offering them something very wonderful.
The core issue here is that Ketchum’s marketing execution was not very elegant ( see PR Deadly Sin #2). The sad part is that Blogfest 2010 surrendered its core purpose — a celebration of Brooklyn’s bloggers – to a brand. Not the end of the world, but maybe the end of an era.