Thursday, June 25, 2009

TotalBeauty Saga Continues

After over 12 hours of promising a response to his TotalBeauty blunder, Emrah finally posted a response on YouTube that is completely lacking. Interestingly, his video has comments disabled. Here's the video:

I've watched this video several times. First off, Mr. CEO has yet to apologize to beauty bloggers for being unprofessional, unedukatd uneducated, non-journalists. Kovacoglu states that Total Beauty was started to "democratize" the market, and that Sneak Peek provides this service. He tries to justify his position because he has spent the last 5 weeks talking to the "top beauty brands" across the country, who want to work with bloggers, but need help in reaching the correct bloggers.

Let's think about this for a second. What are some of the products members of Total Beauty have received recently? Q-Tips, Chapstick, Venus Razors, and L'Oreal products. All drugstore brands, all well-known, large conglomerations. Big business who thinks that the latest craze is blogging, and have decided (or are following their ad agencies recommendations) that they want to start tapping this "new" method of promotion/advertising, who don't have the "resources to really vet the thousands of bloggers out there." Hello? What's up with throw as much spaghetti against the wall and see if anything sticks approach?

Every blog has a personality behind it and there is no "one size fits all" approach. BionicBeauty focuses a lot on both drugstore steals and deals, as well as independent, smaller brands. BeautifulMakeupSearch is a QVC-aholic, in addition to writing about high-end brands such as La Mer (who's Creme de la Mer at $130/1oz jar doesn't sound like it would be a Sneak Peek item). I couldn't even begin to count the number of blogs that adore Sephora and MAC. At least when brands approach bloggers directly, they are targeting a match between their product and the blogger's readership: a potential win-win situation for both, and a reduction of wasted costs and product by sending to an inappropriate audience.

It is painfully obvious that the CEO of a blogging network has no idea whatsoever what blogging is about. Bloggers and their readers are like extended families with open lines of communication going both ways. Add to the mix the brands or PR agencies that deal directly with bloggers, and there is yet another layer of communication. Just by the mere fact that Emrah has closed his YouTube video to comments demonstrates this point. Yes, he does give an email address and telephone number on the video because he is "open and accessable." Another dumb move on his part. Would ya like to give the world your home address as well? I'm sure that in the hours since that video was posted, the number is surely no longer valid. I don't recommend that anyone try to call or to email - the very fact that his comments are disabled is enough to tell you he really doesn't want to hear from you. Hopefully, the man has realized by now that posting that information was blunder #3 - he's on a roll.

He threatens that the FTC will go after bloggers, insinuating that he is the buffer that will protect you. And this would happen how? Are Sneak Peek bloggers going to have to pay for that Chapstick, or will they get a boatload of it showing up one day, expecting them to try and review in 30 days or less like it currently works? Free is free is free. It doesn't matter if it comes from the brand directly, or from a buffoon - it's still free. Which means it will still fall under the FTC's watchful eye - assuming that legislation comes to pass. If it does, it isn't the worse thing to happen to bloggers. I'm willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that their readers don't really expect that they purchased everything they reviewed. A notation saying that some products have been supplied for review purposes isn't going to scare anyone off. On the flip side, I've seen many a blogger get nasty comments from readers when they publish "haul" posts about spending so much money on themselves in this economy.

So, Mr. Kovacoglu, you've asked for our solutions. Here's mine: stay out of it, and let bloggers and brands conduct themselves the way they see fit.

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