See Sprint’s dual-sided Samsung Upstage “unboxing” photos…
While LG sent out their “Shine” phone to a few popular Singapore bloggers, Sprint sent out the Samsung “Upstage” phone to the rest of us (I guessed so back in March). Since I’m not currently in New York, my housemate Aaron helped perform the ever geeky “unboxing” photographic ceremony for me, as seen in this photo set.
Just a quickie: Sprint’s Samsung Upstage a uniquely designed cellphone which is ultra-slim and yet has displays on both faces (i.e. no real front nor back). Since Sprint was marketing it as a package, we got six-months of free phone and data services. I heard that this phone maintains a solid EVDO connection, which I could use for virtual presence projects.
Back to the real deal: Having chatted with local bloggers here, there’s something different about the way companies market their goods through bloggers. In the case of Singapore, LG sent out these shiny phones to bloggers “on loan” for three weeks, with a standard letter disclaiming that any damage would be borne by the blogger. Being easily scratched (it’s shiny!), this sounds a little risky to me. I didn’t have a look at the actual letter while I was with MrBrown, but its in contrast to the way I’ve reviewed gadgets in the States.
Having blogged product reviews before, I find that Americans tend to place a lot of faith in bloggers, giving products to bloggers and not making any demands at all. Sometimes this backfires, as in the controversial case of Microsoft & Edelman’s Ferarri laptop giveaway. Some argued that this didn’t work because the “product” was far too expensive (around US$2,200), which appeared more like a bribe to the A-list bloggers (I wouldn’t mind if I could still give an honest review). Others (like me) found the messaging and backtracking of statements more damaging to the credibility of the marketing exercise (i.e. “return it or give it away”?).
Most of the time though, the trust placed with bloggers does get reciprocated. Understanding that it is not up to marketers to control the message, an honest review (whether positive or negative) drives attention. Without this first step, there wouldn’t even be an attitudinal -> behavioral change process. Having asked my readers before, it’s interesting to see how my negative review wouldn’t deter interested buyers, but rather spur interest in “checking it out” for themselves. You might have often heard the saying “don’t trust the critics”, which is in fact not wrong per say, but something that playfully points out the higher order of media…
To explain, Bernard C. Cohen (1963) once said, “[t]he press may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about“. Taking this gist of agenda-setting theory forward, I find that Bernard’s statement still applies to the role that the media today, whether mainstream or otherwise (e.g. blogs).
Granted, there’s really nothing wrong with companies loaning products for review to bloggers, as it’s sometimes common practice for mainstream media as well. However, there’s is an attributional difference which grants a possible advantage to giving away such items to those who run blogs: Persistence.
My take is that unlike most media forms which report in one point in time, blogs are more of a life stream where something that a blogger uses would persistently maintain it’s chronological presence throughout (i.e. not only when it is new). For instance, if I like a particular product and I use it all the time (e.g. my Sony M2 hybrid camera), residuals of its presence would be felt constantly: In my photos on my blog, via EXIF metadata on flickr, in the background when someone photographs me (better than product placement). The utility of a product would be in line with its presence, on me in person and in blog.
In eventuality, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to surmise that the media not longer refers to the blog, but to the blogger him or her self. In other words, we as individuals become the media, where blogs, phone conversations, television appearances, all become media extensions of the original media source. What is media? It’s always been organic anyway.
Aside: Watch how Hill & Knowlton pimps the LG Shine in UK… with the LG Shine Blog and a photo competition! No this isn’t an ad, as I’m wondering if Europeans do it differently too.