Product Placement on Blogs, An Ethical Dilemma?

BlogHer Original Post

What happens when a cookbook publisher offers to give 25 food bloggers a free copy of a soon-to-be-released cookbook if they agree to post about the book on their blogs? For me, at least, it created a bit of an ethical dilemma.

In a fairly brilliant bit of online marketing, publishers of a new cookbook called Kitchen Sense worked with Sara of I Like to Cook and Cath of A Blithe Palate to arrange an event where 25 food bloggers were given a free cookbook and asked to post about what they made. The event was organized through a great site called Weekend Cookbook Challenge.

I was one of 25 food bloggers from all over the world who was invited to participate, and at first I didn't see any problem with it, since we didn't have to promise to give the cookbook a positive review, and I post recipes and spotlight the cookbook they come from all the time on my blog. When we were asked to write about what we made without posting the recipe (just a miscommunication, not changing the rules after the fact), I wondered if I had done the right thing. I solved the dilemma for myself by stating in my cookbook spotlight post that I had received the book free, and making it completely clear to my blog readers that I would have sent the book back and not written about it if I hadn't liked the book. Since I honestly thought it was a wonderful book, I didn't feel any conflict in spotlighting it for my readers. I don't know if any other food bloggers had the feelings I did, or if they just were glad to be part of the fun of trying a new cookbook. What do you think about this kind of product placement on blogs?

The other part of this story is the amazing variety of things that food bloggers cooked when they tried the book. You can read the roundup of entries from Cookbook Spotlight at Cookbook Spotlight at Weekend Cookbook Challenge and Cookbook Spotlight at A Blithe Palate. And since I wasn't the only food blogger who really liked this book (and many were brutally honest about saying that they were initially turned off by the lack of photos in the book) this may have turned out to be a win for everyone.

Contributing Editor Kalyn Denny also blogs at Kalyn's Kitchen.

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