08 September 2011

ConAgra Kerfuffle

You hear about the latest blogger / PR fiasco? It was in yesterday's Times, headlined Bloggers Don’t Follow the Script, to ConAgra’s Chagrin, among other places. Basically, Marie Callendar's PR agency invited a bunch of food bloggers to a talk and a dinner with a chef, and instead of chef-made food, they served up some frozen lasagne. Oh, and there were hidden cameras.

It reminded me a little of the time that I was invited to a cooking class/cocktail party with Cat Cora - there was mention made of a "secret ingredient" but not until we got there did we know that the secret ingredient was margarine. Yuck. At least Cat Cora was cooking with it, not that the food was any good. But she gets brownie points for making the best of it - instead of serving up frozen lasagne and pretending it was homemade.

Here's the thing. If the PR agency had been up front about the frozen lasagne, would anyone have accepted the invitation? I doubt it. They were trying for the bait and switch, dangling a four course meal and a celebrity chef in front of bloggers who, from the accounts I've seen, don't eat frozen food, avoid food additives they can't pronounce, read labels and know how to cook.

I've said it before: eat real food, people. If we don't buy the overly processed food in the frozen section of the supermarket, they'll stop making it. Right? Sigh. It's a sad battle to be fighting.


Imperatrix said...

"Monetizing" a blog is ridiculous. And honestly, that something like this makes the "news" paper is also ridiculous.

... In fact, *everything* in the world is ridiculous!

She Curmudgeon said...

It sounds like they set themselves up for failure.

I don't know if the PR agency did any research about the bloggers they invited or thought-- hubristically so-- that the bloggers would change their minds because they were "just" consumers and would be wowed and amused by the bait and switch rather than pissed by the misleading circumstances under which they were brought there.

Blogs have been around long enough that any PR agency worth its salt ought to know that there's a significant camp within bloggers that does consider itself more journalistic than just "oh hai internet, here's my opinion."

Pulling this kind of stunt is just going to backfire.

And I loved the way the ethics quotesperson shaded the "yeah, they fucked up."

Bibliomama said...


flutter said...

I thought that article was beyond fascinating

Angela said...

Ha! Teach them a lesson!!

But for every PR flop event, there are so many blogger events that really exceed expectations. My most recent examples are the Dove cruise at BlogHer and a Nordstrom Rack tweetup in our area.

Giving bloggers drinks, appetizers, and $75 to spend in a store before it opens to the public is DEFINITELY the way to do it.

shrink on the couch said...

What a crock. And I don't mean the pot kind.

We're big "real food" eaters here. But then there's Ramen. Two of my kids are Ramen fanatics. And I can't seem to give it up either.

leanne said...

I've been reading about this mess. And I just can't get over the fact that the PR agency thought that the bloggers they picked would at all be interested. I just keep shaking my head at that part.

And seconding your yuck on margarine.