Bloggers yield such power these days that big brands are now catering to them like they would members of the traditional media. Special blogger-only events are created during big media blitzes like New York’s upcoming fashion week. Bloggers are given press passes to get into events which they normally wouldn’t have access to. But bloggers are still bloggers and if things aren’t on the up-and-up at said big fancy event, you’d best believe they will be informing their readership the minute things seem shady.
This is a hard lesson that ConAgra frozen foods had to learn recently in New York City. According to a recent New York Times article, the maker of microwaveable meals cooked up a crafty plan to get bloggers to potentially talk about the company’s new Three Meat and Four Cheese Lasagna from Marie Callender’s. Big Apple food bloggers were invited to an exclusive event which promised food from celebrity chef George Duran at a chic restaurant and an “unexpected surprise.” The surprise was that these food-savvy writers were actually being served frozen lasagna and something called razzleberry pie for dessert. Naturally, hidden cameras were on hand to capture their reactions. Sadly, according to all in attendance the evening quickly went awry. The high sodium and loaded-with-fat lasagna was ripped to shreds by the bloggers, who weren’t only mad about the crappy dinner but furious about being tricked.
Within minutes, the power of blog creation and a big-ass readership had really shown its muscles. The invited writers let their readers know how terrible the lasagna was and how cruelly they were mislead. Naturally, PR stunts like ConAgra’s are old hat, but the immediate deflation of such scams is distinctly new media era. ConAgra’s stunt was so widely trashed that the company had to cancel the additional four nights it had planned.
It just goes to show that you can lead a blogger to free lasagna, but you can’t make him like it.