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That old chestnut - blogger sponsorship

(46 Posts)
Ijustneedmycoffee Mon 30-May-16 12:49:01

I apologise in advance, I know there has been plenty of discussion on this, but I have a question.

I don't read many blogs but I do like one or 2. Lately I've noticed this blogger I like wearing or linking quite a few things from Mango. I used to trust this blogger but now I'm a bit hmmm. Are bloggers not obliged to disclose if they are paid/on a retainer/whatever a company is paying for tax purposes? Or do they just disclose this when they do their tax returns?

Can anyone enlighten me?

thatorchidmoment Mon 30-May-16 18:10:59

I am interested in this too. Have followed several bloggers etc on Instagram, and it seems pretty opaque regarding where all their swag comes from and how much is bankrolled by them. They might say something like, "Thanks a million <brandymcbrandface> for my gorgeous shoes, I will love them forever! What amazing packaging, totally love everything this brand makes!" Not clear whether it was a gratuity, or discounted.

I follow Courtney Adamo, who co-founded Babyccino kids. She has come in for a fair amount of flak for not declaring whether stuff she recommends is a freebie or paid for. She has put out some statement that she would only ever endorse stuff that she loves, etc, but I am a bit hmm every time another new outfit from a designer pops up on her Instagram, or her family are staying in yet another palatial Kid&Coe property!

botemp Mon 30-May-16 19:06:43

It's been awhile since the thread was active so I hope I remember it correctly; what I can remember is that there is no need for disclosure (by ASA guidelines) unless money is exchanged and the brand has creative input into the content, it is then marked as a sponsored post or #AD.

So for example if brand A pays blogger B for guaranteed space on their blog/instagram/etc. for an agreed fee based on following and traffic to platform of choice but has no input as to how Blogger B showcases or what is showcased there is no requirement to disclose anything. The brand can still demand non-creative things like when it is scheduled, type of post, etc. just no input anything 'creative'. Which makes it all rather dodgy as the only parties privy to those contracts are the blogger and the brand/agencies involved so how this is all monitored remains a bit of a mystery to me and seems highly susceptible for fraudulent activity.

There is no requirement to individually disclose affiliate linking either. This means that if you click the link to the product it usually has a cookie attached for 30-90 days (some even longer) and if you end up buying through the affiliate link the blogger will get a percentage of your total sale purchase (speculated to be anything from under 5% up to 10% and varies per e-tailer).

There is no necessity to disclose or register (for tax purposes) gifted items from brands either, they are considered press samples and are usually sent unsolicited to bloggers.

Suffice to say, I no longer subscribe to many blogs (sum total of 1 at the moment). It's all too murky for me to consistently feel out who is trustworthy or not, so I simply don't bother.

Saying all that, Mango is part of the Inditex group (Zara among others) which is notorious for spending the least amount of money on advertising, if any. So unless they have recently changed strategies it's unlikely to be stealth advertising. There will likely be affiliate linking involved as that pretty much drives the entire e-tail market, so it might just be this blogger's strategy of showcasing a lot of lower priced items as that will generate more volume sales on a possibly high earning affiliate percentage for that particular e-store in comparison to other e-tailers.

Ijustneedmycoffee Mon 30-May-16 19:41:03

Thanks botemp.

Yes it all sounds a bit too murky. I look at very few blogs now, and now after your explanation, maybe none. Have to say, if you're being 'gifted' (awful word) fancy stuff, it's hrs to say it's shite. Can't cut your nose off to spite your face- they might never send you something again. And the next thing they send might be fabulous, dahling.

What about benefit-in-kind tax? Does that only apply when the gift is not unsolicited? In some professions in some countries, if the gift is of a certain value - and sometimes it's not very high at all - it has to be declared. Not the same for blogs?

It is reassuring the Mango Zara etc don't spend much on this.

FANTINE1 Mon 30-May-16 19:42:46

A couple of months ago, I noticed a blogger than I occasionally follow extolling the virtues of the White Company. She praised everything about it. It was a OTT tbh. A couple of blogs later we get a lovely spread of her wearing her lovely new White Company items which had been gifted to her.
I find it all a bit hmmm. Goes against the grain for me. It smacks a little of"ooh I like that make. If I creep a bit they may send me some freebies'

botemp Mon 30-May-16 20:36:38

I'm not in the UK and useless with taxes but I think because everything is considered a 'sample' for personal use ie. it has no marketable value so it is exempt from any taxes incl. B-I-K. I know it's very different where I live (The Netherlands, you can hardly give away a bottle of wine without incurring taxes) and it's similar in Scandinavia but I'm not sure how it is elsewhere.

Anyhow, the whole blogging earning model seems to be held together by convenient loopholes which is policed by an outdated enforcing body that specialised talent agencies and PRs know how to exploit to its fullest advantage, and as FANTINE1 mentioned it's not unheard of either to solicit brands in such a manner either, whether that is initiated by blogger or brand strategy is unclear. What is clear is that their 'opinions' become highly compromised by money or free swag. Yes, they're professional bloggers and it's how they earn their money and I don't begrudge them that at all but the lack of transparency and methods they utilise to earn their money is what keeps me away, traffic to their sites is after all what allows them to charge what they charge.

Ijustneedmycoffee Mon 30-May-16 22:54:13

Oh I've no problem with professional bloggers making a living out of it. Well done them. But like you, it's the non-declaration. Just a note somewhere in the blog saying 'this is a sponsored post' or 'this item was gifted to me' would do.

Littleallovertheshop Mon 30-May-16 23:08:34

I no longer read blogs as every one I read always Said how wonderful things were - never an objective review!

MrsCampbellBlack Tue 31-May-16 05:57:28

I loved Wit's final post on the subject. To summarise she doesn't see why has to disclose and it is just people being nosey hmm

WhatamessIgotinto Tue 31-May-16 06:52:17

I'm really interested in this post as I've recently subscribed to a couple of bloggers and almost immediately unsubscribed from one of them for this very reason. The one I like states very clearly if an item has been gifted or sponsored and the other one spent so much time waxing lyrical about a particular brand it was ludicrous and it two outfits on the trot were completely made up of this brand, down to the accessories.

I have no issue with bloggers making money from what is ultimately their job, I just think some can seem a little misleading.

Floisme Tue 31-May-16 07:03:50

'Consultancy work' was particularly opaque.

Lack of negative product reviews.

Truculence whenever questions were asked. (Not all, one or two bloggers - sorry can only remember BBB - joined in and showed great grace under pressure.)

Maintaining the image of a sole blogger, working from your bedroom with just a laptop for company when in fact you're signed up for a massive PR company. Looking at the Gleam website was an eyeopener for me:

Whether any of this is changing I don't know as I no longer follow any.

gonegrey56 Tue 31-May-16 07:09:24

What annoys me as well is bloggers who "buy" followers. It seems to be increasingly common now .

WipsGlitter Tue 31-May-16 08:37:28

There was one I was reading recently about a dinner party she had and at the very end I realised it was sponsored by Wedgewood China!! It was all a bit contrived I felt. Ands I was sorry for the poor guests who were just there to schlep some plates and glasses!!

Ijustneedmycoffee Tue 31-May-16 13:52:50

I think I saw that one Wips! It was a bit ridiculous. Felt for their guests too, wondered were they fed at allgrin.

I stopped following WIT ages ago and wasn't aware she said that. Rather high-handed.surely it's entirely relevant when you're endorsing a product. I thought we were all about transparency these days.

And you can buy followers??

FANTINE1 Tue 31-May-16 22:26:47


WipsGlitter Wed 01-Jun-16 07:12:52

WIT = wearing it today blog

gonegrey56 Wed 01-Jun-16 15:57:08

OP - you sure can . About 50 euros for 500 followers seems to be the current rate in Europe.

louloubelle2 Wed 01-Jun-16 20:20:33

I thought WITs reasoning that lawyers and architects aren't asked to disclose and that its an invasion of privacy to ask a bit flawed....lawyers and architects DO disclose everything - when they are briefed, then when they quote and when they invoice. All work should be itemised. Plus any good lawyer or architect will have open lines of communication throughout the relationship to ensure there are no unexpected charges at the end. What else do they keep secret that we're not supposed to pry about when we engage their services?? Good luck to WIT though, hope she does come back from mat leave, this issue aside, I rather like her blog.

A hobby fashion blogger who simply photographs what they actually wear daily, and chats about what they buy, what they like and don't like one thing and easy to spot.

A professional fashion blogger who photographs what they wear to make a living from people buying the same clothes or shopping the same brands, is entirely a different entity. They should disclose what they are gifted/asked to wear as it's part of the job to do so.

I think where the line becomes blurred is that a lot of the "professional" bloggers are in that low-mid level range of success, and are also spending some of their own money on the "look" they publish. So maybe in their minds, they are still hobby bloggers doing it for the love of fashion. Maybe? Or am I clutching at straws?

WipsGlitter Thu 02-Jun-16 07:23:39

Can anyone link to WITs post on this? I don't really see the parallels - was she talking about blogging architects or lawyers?

louloubelle2 Thu 02-Jun-16 07:33:01

Its the last post on her blog. I'd rather not link as I'm not into a slagging match about her in particular, I've nothing against her, just the debate in general, in which the point she raises prompts discussion. She's on mat leave, so leave her to enjoy her baby smile

Anyway, I took it that the reference was to IRL lawyers and architects, not bloggers with other professions. i.e. that the job of a blogger deserved no more scrutiny than any other job in any field. A better comparison would be to someone else in the retail trade, someone else who sells goods, rather than services.

MrsCampbellBlack Thu 02-Jun-16 07:37:06

Thing is WIT doesn't really have much choice. Vloggers/bloggers are meant to disclose and I suspect this whole area will be the subject of a lot of tightening up over the next few years.

I thought her last post was interesting and very candid for her - she seemed disappointed that her blog hadn't been as successful as others had.

As with many blogs - they were to me preferable when they consisted of stuff they had actually bought as they liked/saved for the item.

I know they all say they only work with brands they like but I just don't think it is true. There was one small blogger who I followed who suddenly did some random post about cod liver oil - was bizarre and cringey.

botemp Thu 02-Jun-16 10:36:35

Quite an interesting post came up on the one blog I still read about disclosure and how the blogging industry as a whole is failing to do so that links to an American article. BBB's article is here, which draws parallels to the UK situation, and this is the US article. Both are well worth the read (the comment section on BBB too) and give insight into how these business relationships work, bought followers, fees, purposeful deception of consumers, etc. BBB did a periscope on it too but I'll have to see if I can find a link to that as I saw it on the app.

botemp Thu 02-Jun-16 10:39:15

Easier to find than I thought, the periscope video is here. I just don't know how long it'll still be there since periscope is weird like that...

Ijustneedmycoffee Thu 02-Jun-16 11:50:40

Thanks for those links, I've just read the articles. It's a real eye-opener! It would seem that WIT's liking her job to that of an architect's won't hold water for much longer.
I didn't read the blogging thread here but will search and read it.

Buying followers is quite cheap.

I can't get over the amount of money some bloggers are paid if what those articles said are true!! I did follow Chriselle Lim on Snapchat for New York fashion week and realised she must make a fortune, and good on her. But boy! the amount of sponsorship she had must have been massive. Not once mentioned directly. (To reassure everyone, I no longer look at her, or Snapchat, 1. it becomes phenomenally boring, 2. she puts her DD on snapchat far too much for my liking, and 3. it became as relevant as Hello magazine to my life, 4. far far far too time consuming)

I agree MrsCB, I just don't believe the 'I only work with brands I like' line. If you've a living to make it would be pretty foolish to be so picky..

MrsCampbellBlack Thu 02-Jun-16 12:01:10

Snapchat is so huge at the moment because I suspect a lot of people are using it to get around disclosing.

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