Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Interest of Disclosure

Above: A snippet from a recent Sephora Beauty Insider email I received recently. (Why oh why oh WHY did I have to move out of Honolulu before this could happen?)


About the FTC regulations asking beauty bloggers to disclose where and how they got products reviewed on their sites...

Let me be up front here by saying this: There are several ways that a product review ends up on Domesticity.
  1. I bought the product myself.
  2. The product was a sample that came from a separate purchase. (This is applicable for things that I get from Sephora, or things I find between the pages of a magazine... but not for the majority of Pinoy retailers that I frequent, since what's usually considered as a "sample size" can be bought for a small pittance at your local store.)
  3. Somebody else bought the product for me.
  4. Somebody else bought the product for themselves, but I ended up cockroaching them from the nearest vanity. (My apologies to my parents, my sister, Scribey, and the makers of fine hotel toiletries throughout the world.)
  5. Somebody else bought the product for their salon and used it on my personage... but then, that would lead to #1, so it just brings everything full circle.
  6. I signed up for the brand's mailing list. (I think I did this with a review of Dove products not too long ago.)
  7. If I didn't buy it, or it didn't come from a separate purchase, then I am either going by a second-hand account or I'm basing my judgement on a swipe I made on my hand. (My apologies to Sephora, Nordstrom, Macy's, Neiman Marcus, and the Aveda salons of Honolulu... you may have lost the biggest sample whore that ever sample-whored in the entire state of Hawaii, but rest assured now that my word is pure gold, and I never lied to you about having a blog!)
I could go on and on, but here's the main point: Not once have I reviewed something, anything, that was given to me by a publicist for the purpose of putting out a non-negative review. Like I've said before, I only use this blog for fun, but have not used it for profit - and never, ever, for the sake of earning freebies.

And sure, there are circumstances where I've come close to a few ethics violations... but I have yet to receive a cease-and-desist letter from anyone, and if I did I'd be the first person to publish the whole thing in verbatim.

Sometimes a picture of a product that I have never tried ends up on my blog. But that's probably because I happened to like the label or the advertising campaign. Again, I would be the first person to tell you if I was contacted by the Powers That Be on the brand side of that product... preferably before I do the review, but I'd tell you too if they contacted me afterwards anyway.

I say this now, too, because I also happen to be friends with a few brand managers from some of the big guns in the personal-care industry here in the Philippines. (Clue: NOT Vicki Belo.) I'm not saying that they shouldn't contact me and ask me to blog about their products - in fact, I actually welcome their input - but that doesn't mean I'm not going to speak up if I find something wrong. Like, say, if they sent me a lotion that turned my skin the color of a legal pad, or if the shampoo they gave me made my hair smell like dirty socks.

And as for free treatments... well, speaking as somebody who has participated in all sorts of PR shenanigans in a former lifetime - like dancing in a fish costume for a government agency, and coming close to getting my teeth bleached for television - I know too well how the game works. Again, not to say that I shouldn't be getting invites for product launches (because, au contraire, I welcome that too... call me, Power Plant Mall!) but I'm also not going to hesitate to show you proof that I was invited to the event, the reasons why I was invited in the first place, and whether or not somebody else paid the bill for me. Then again, I do live in a country where even prominent fashionistas get crap service at expensive salons... and thus have a bigger duty to blow the whistle, in case anything goes wrong.

Long story short: I'm fully compliant.


That said: I'm in the process of considering options for advertising on this blog. I don't want to disclose too many details, except for the fact that I am exploring an option that lets me generate revenue locally. It might change the "profit" angle for a bit here, but I'm hoping that I could do this without compromising the editorial tone for the rest of this blog. Will keep you posted.

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