Adweek says Golden Valley-based General Mills has rounded up an impressive network of more than 900 bloggers — with 4 out of 5 of them being mothers — to, well, blog about the company’s products.
The MyBlogSpark network (©2009 General Mills, by the way) says its members will get coupons, product samples and other incentives.
General Mills plans to use the network to promote its wide portfolio of products in the food and beverage, beauty, home, electronics, health and automotive categories.
So, what’s the catch?
General Mills can be confident the program will fill blogs with positive reviews. One of the requirements for participation reads: “If you feel you cannot write a positive post regarding the product or service, please contact the MyBlogSpark team before posting any content.”
To be fair, the responsible PR folks say that does not constitute a requirement to write good things, just that they notify the company for feedback purposes.
Say what you want about the thin grey line between blogging and journalism, but having to contact the company before writing anything negative constitutes a chilling effect in my book.
Granted, bloggers are free to purchase and review the products on their own dime and General Mills is free to help manage its message as it sees fit, but this is certainly something to ponder as huge corporations work to extend their influence.