Yesterday, Total Beauty CEO Emrah Kovacoglu ignited a firestorm in the blogosphere and on Twitter thanks to his most recent CEO Outlook newsletter, titled Beauty Brands Should Not Be Working With Bloggers…
Essentially, Kovacoglu drives home the point that in this era of “Blogola” and FTC attention, it’s dangerous for brands to work directly with bloggers and that it’s more beneficial to rely on a liason to send products for review (that would be the Sneak Peek program, offered by Total Beauty, in case you were wondering). In part, he says:
“We have developed a community of vetted bloggers who are impactful, truthful, and not compensated for their posts/reviews — and we continue to monitor that community. We guarantee to get your products in the hands of the right bloggers, and that they will use your product as recommended, post about it on their blog, and review it on TotalBeauty.com. What we don’t guarantee is whether it will be a positive or negative review. That fate falls upon the performance of your products.”
As both a blogger (eye4style is a member of Total Beauty, in fact) and a social media professional, I have a pretty unique perspective and I disagree with Kovacoglu. At Attention, I’m lucky enough to work with some of the leading beauty brands in the business and consistently, we counsel them on the value of building relationships with beauty bloggers and on the importance of continuing a conversation once it’s begun. On the other hand, Total Beauty’s Sneak Peek program sends bloggers (there are well over 100 that are part of the network, though fewer participate in this program) packages of products (with no regard for whether they’re a good fit for that blog), no press materials to give context to the product and no contact information for anyone at the brand. That isn’t relationship building, it’s one way communication (or as I prefer to call it, the antithesis of social media.)
Kovacoglu’s CEO newsletter also stated that “However, whether you are a professional journalist or a blogger, publishers have a responsibility to hold true to ethical standards in journalism. It’s not worth ruining a reputation or selling out in the short run for small amounts of money or free products.”
The beauty of the blogosphere in its diversity and here, Kovacoglu disrespected the network of bloggers that he created. Among the beauty bloggers that I know personally are lawyers, dermatologists, journalists and published authors. To imply that they would “sell out” for free lipstick is absurb. In fact, if anything, bloggers are less inclined to cover a sub-par product – they’re not as dependent on advertisers as traditional magazines are.
In case you were wondering, Kovacoglu DID respond to the uproar he caused about 12 hours later. His chosen communication vehicles? A mass e-mail to network bloggers (that was clearly cut and paste from separate documents) and a YouTube video with comments and ratings disabled. Essentially, he made it clear that he’s not interested in engaging in a conversation. Yet again, this is one way communication.
What do you think of Kovacoglu’s editorial?