Ann Taylor tried to schmear a bunch of bloggers and almost got busted by the FTC. This is good news because it will force bloggers to shill less and will put lazy PR guys on notice that payola shouldn't be the currency of choice in the blogsphere.
Here are the facts, as reported by Ad Age:
Ann Taylor invited selected bloggers to preview the Summer 2010 Loft collection
They promised those posting articles would be eligible for a "special gift"
The "mystery card drawing" offered gift cards valued from $50 to $500
To cash in bloggers had to submit their posts to the company within 24 hours
There was a sign at the event reminding bloggers that FTC rules require disclosure
Whoever thought this campaign up clearly believes that "pay for play" is the rule in dealing with bloggers. The on-site signage was a CYA move that didn't really fake out the FTC. This is an effort to get right up to the line and exploit bloggers in ways that are impossible... Read more