May 192010

I got an email the other day from a marketing wank working the worst kind of “grass roots” angle that is so popular now among freelance marketing suckups hoping to horn-dog free publicity off the backs of media people like us who are already working WAY TOO HARD to salvage our income during the internet onslaught. Here’s the gist: This particular campaign involved corralling local Atlanta “influencers” with a form letter that read like the following:

“Hollis Gillespie: You are a true Atlanta influencer, and therefore perfect for the [fancy car company] program my agency is starting this week . . . [we have] been hired by [fancy car company] to find 32 key influencers in Atlanta and we would love for you to be one of them . . . In this campaign, you would be given a [fancy car] to drive for a 4 day VIP experience!”

Woohoo! FOUR WHOPPING DAYS in a fancy goddam car! All I had to do in exchange for 4 whopping whoop-di-ass days in a fancy car was blog for free on their site, campaign like hell for them for free, harangue my audience — my especially cultivated, years-in-the-making audience, the people who TRUST me not sell out like a cheap Tijuana whore but to HOLD OUT like a more, let’s say, moderately-priced whore –all I had to do was hand them over to [FANCY CAR COMPANY] for weeks and weeks for fuhREE. And for what? Four days in a nice car with the chance of few grand tossed to my charity?

I declined. I told her to give me the car for a year and then we might have a deal.

Her response is what really pissed me off.

“That’s unfortunate to hear,” she said. “It’d be a great way to reach out to your community in support of a charity.”

For one, I’ve already cultivated my community and it is vast and still growing. She, on the other hand, is trying to horn dog in on my community and snake it for nothing. For two, I’ll raise funds for my charity myself, thank you. Last year I raised way more for the Juvenile Justice Fund than the pittance [fancy car company] was offering to foist in exchange for weeks and weeks and weeks of my indentured blogitude And again, the donation to my charity was only if I won the ridiculous “challenge.” All the nonwinners will have lent [fancy car company] their audiences, their names and their endorsements for what? 4 days in a nice car?  Lord God Almighty.

In the end, [fancy car company] harangued 32 “true Atlanta influencers” to lend their names, their time, their work, their audiences, their carnival-barker shuckstering, and only one of them gets to have the paltry coupla grand tossed to their charity. Who wins here? Not these “true Atlanta influencers,” not the charities but FANCY GODDAM CAR COMPANY!

Seriously, scores of writers are jobless because big corporations cut them loose thinking they can either do it themselves or trick other writers into doing it for free in exchange for “exposure.” Buying into this literally cheapens our profession.