Bloggers and Advertising: Do You Dig It?


You know how when you are an insider, you may have a more skeptical, possibly even skewed and cynical perspective on the subject at hand? As a blogger, and one who has been paid to be a part of campaigns, sponsorships, brand ambassadorships, advertorials, etc, until recently, I hadn't analyzed the full extent of it, and now that the marketing major in me has stirred, here we go:

What is the aim that brands have by using bloggers, and are their truly expectations manageable and measurable?

Furthermore,  who exactly is targeted by using bloggers as part of an ad campaign or sponsorship? The obvious assumption is the readers, however, how do other bloggers feel about the blogger and brand collab on this? I've seen endorsements and ads featuring bloggers that have stretched beyond their blogs, and can be found across a blog network's ads, on big websites, and even in print advertising and magazines (for some examples, see the Lucky Style Collective, Natalie Suarez/Natalie Off Duty ‘s print TRESemmé ad, Christina Caradona/Trop Rouge in a YouTube video and print ads for Tampax; Scott Schuman/The Sartorialist for  The GAP).

Sometimes I think that it is cool that brands are building relationships by using my blogging peers instead of professional models or celebrities, but at other times, the relationship seems a little too mismatched, forced, and transparent that the blogger did it just for the money while the brand didn't really line up with his/her blog-related ideology.

Campaigns featuring bloggers not found on their respective sites adds another dimension to the blogger + ad campaign question (see linked examples above). I'm really curious to learn what people tend to think who see these campaigns, especially if they don't follow blogs, or even that blog in particular.  By removing the blogger from his/her blog in this setting, it certainly evolves the role of said blogger, and with a higher frequency of this occurring, will be shifting a blogger's occupation from a, well, blogger, to something a little harder to nail down: “TV or print personality,” expert, correspondent, ambassador, and perhaps, even a bit of celebrity…

With all this being said and done, is using bloggers an incentive to check out the brand and eventually buy the product? What is really being sold here – the idea/lifestyle that represents a blogger, an expert, or it someone that the customer can identify and relate with; a hybrid between a “real person”  and a “celebrity,” appearing in an ad campaign?

It's true that being a blogger and using them in campaigns definitely has a very cool, “it” factor right now, but are the items that are being measured, like impressions, likes, retweets, or merely just the look of the person driving the exposure that the brands desire? Are the expectations on deliverables reasonable, and a win-win for both parties?

At the end of the day, it's all about revenue, directly or indirectly, and if the numbers aren't what they are projected or expected to be, then I can't imagine these collaborations being much more than a trend.

It's a complicated subject, and within the blogging community, as Jess Estrada pointed out this week in her post, “if you’re in any way making money or working with brands on your blog – yes, you’re a professional blogger,” which means at some point, you will encounter these opportunities, and will be responsible for providing the ascribed value, found on the site and through social media, or elsewhere. As I've discussed in the past, part of the allure of bloggers is planted in the assumption that they are “real,” and “genuine,” so in essence, capitalizing on this, and placing the context in the clearly fictional, desire-invoking world of advertising,  is certainly an intriguing proposition, to say the very least!

How do you feel about seeing bloggers in ad campaigns?

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10 Responses

  1. Ashley

    Julia, this is so wonderful! I actually saw the Christina Caradona/Trop Rouge Tampax ad on Hulu yesterday; I didn’t know who she was, and while I thought she was cute and engaging, I did find myself going, “Well, why is a fashion blogger selling me tampons?” I do think they made an effort to tie it in with the “The only spots I wear are leopard” (cute! clever!), but overall… yes, it felt a bit weirdly designed.

    In this instance I think/question:
    – Who is going to respond to this ad? There will be viewers who do not know who she is – and therefore, will not be swayed one way or another by her presence in the video. It could be her readers, but are they going to necessarily switch to buying Tampax because she was in an ad?
    – What goals does it serve her blog? I will admit- after seeing it, I did look up her site. But that’s because I have a history with fashion blogging. Will the mom who sees this while watching “Revenge” on Hulu go to her site? I find it doubtful.
    – Is the medium true to form? I scrolled through a few pages of her site, and the style she represents in the video actually didn’t seem to entirely match the style she has on her site. (I’m sure others can clarify whether this is true – this is very cursory!) So is she selling an image of herself that may or may not be true to herself? If so – why did the partnership form?

    It’s certainly an interesting case study, and I’m sorry to pick on Christina in my response – she’s the only one I had currently seen, and it was fresh in my mind (as is the finale of “Revenge” ;).

    • Julia Dinardo

      Ashe, Thanks for getting the commenting going, and per usual, raising a bunch of SPOT-ON points! It hard to know the answers to these, but I think it just reinforces how multi-faceted the blog-blogger-ad-and everyone else involved relationship can be; with so many entities involved, it certainly can be complicated to be “brand right” for all parties!

  2. CynthiaCM

    I’m okay with this if the brand has something to do with the blogger’s site. For example, Extra Petite has modelled for LOFT. LOFT has petite sizes, and therefore has clothing that works well for her 5′ even, under 100 lb figure, making her an ideal rep. However, if she were to be in, say, a car commercial, I would find it a bit odd (though I guess it could be spun in a way that she talks about finding cars that work well for smaller people, but anyway)…I find that using bloggers, especially ones who are not model-size can be great for clothing. It makes it easier for more people to decide whether an item might work on them, depending on their figure/body type.


  3. Sharon

    *sighs* I find these type of posts . . . for lack of a better word. . . silly. Hiring Christina Caradona to talk about Tampax is no different than hiring a paid actress or a celebrity. First and foremost, Christina may be a fashion blogger but, she is a woman. So, it makes complete sense for a woman to do a feminine hygiene ad. She is a fashion blogger and she wants to look good and feel comfortable. Even during that time of month. That makes sense to me. No one questions when an “it” celebrity is doing diaper commercials or milk ads or whatever. Why? She is a mother. She might drink milk. I would like to think bloggers are multi-dimensional humans as well.
    Maybe the bloggers goal for herself is to build a portfolio that is bigger than her blog. Oprah isn’t just a talk show host. She is an actress, a CEO, a TV station owner, and a monthly cover girl on her magazine. I talk to bloggers all the time who want to grow beyond their blogs into other areas. A 20 year old “it” blogger may not become a 40 year old “it” blogger. So, explore all options.
    I am one who fully supports and am happy for every blogger who has a chance to make a living through a blog and beyond.

  4. Anastasia

    When I see a blogger featured in campaign instead of a professional model it seems clear to me that the brand strives to get “closer” to the clients, it’s similar to the “girl next door” syndrome. Or in case of top bloggers to use their fame to reach the wider audience, just like with actors or singers. Though if we look at the bloggers who usually work as a model for campaign, what would we see? Brands prefer girls with a very beautiful, 100% model appearance. Let it be Rumi Neely for Forever 21, or Chiara Ferragni with her countless collaborations. So far I haven’t see a lot of other cases…



  5. Maggie A

    I think it works sometimes when brands use bloggers for marketing and promotion. A perfect example is when Biore used a variety of bloggers to promote their new charcoal cleanser, I definitely did purchase it to try it even though the bloggers used appeared to already have flawlessly photoshopped skin. When bloggers like Miss Cardona are used in Tampax commericals, its great to see bloggers I know in those sorts of ads but it doesn’t really do anything for me as far as wanting to purchase the item.

    I’m not against it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

    Be sure to check out my blog.

    Maggie A

  6. Sophie

    I think that professional fashion bloggers should do whatever they feel is right for them; whether that’s representing Tampax or refusing to take part in any ad campaigns at all. However, I don’t think that brands bring themselves any closer to their audience by using bloggers because the only bloggers I have seen in ad campaigns are pretty, skinny and conventionally beautiful and model-esque. If bloggers are going to be used as ‘girl next door’ types then brands should reach out to a wider range of bloggers. That said, the most successful bloggers are the ones that look like models anyway. I think that bloggers shouldn’t sacrifice their integrity just to get their face on a product, but the same goes for celebrities. Anyway, who am I to judge? If a big brand ever approached me I’d probably seize the opportunity.

  7. Lauren

    Dr. Pepper can be viewed as a lifestyle product. It’s simply a beverage. Many Bloggers and Vloggers have a lifestyle element to some degree on the blogs or channels. It’s a way to connect to their audience. Connection, with the internet age, is something that is a growing demand. It’s only natural that advertisers are going to want to meet that demand and capitalize on it.

    Michelle Phan, a beauty Vlogger, did a Dr. Pepper Commercial. I thought it was really cool. In this commercial, she briefly said that she had a beauty YouTube Channel and became very successful that way. What does that have to do with Dr. Pepper? What does Dr. Pepper have to do with her beauty vlog or brand? Well, nothing.

    On the same token, tampons are also a lifestyle product. They’re a hygiene necessity, after all. Dr. Pepper and hygiene products are both something that people consume everyday. So, the companies are selling lifestyle rather than products, which to some degree makes perfect sense.

  8. Jessica

    It’s important to note that most of the girls hired for the types of advertising mentioned are model-turned bloggers, not random fashion bloggers. Natalie Suarez (Natalie off duty) is an agency signed model who started blogging. Brands are choosing to hire model/bloggers for huge campaigns because they are not just booking a professional model, they are booking her personal BRAND. Modeling agencies are quickly jumping on this trend as the big-money jobs for standard models are dwindling. Brands want the model/blogger/singer/yogi/foodie who already creates killer content and has a powerful following. Next Model Management now has a blogger division and IMG rep’s several bloggers as well.