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July 10, 2008

Corporate Sponsorship and the Moms Road Trip: full disclosure

Button Truthfully, I don't remember how it all started, only that it happened in a matter of weeks, not months. The founders of the Silicon Valley Moms Group and some folks from Six Apart were kicking around ideas about how to get more readers to our sites. The Six Apart folks were telling us about search engine optimization and the like, and we were trying to get excited, but it's hard to get excited about SEO. What we at Silicon Valley Moms Group are more interested in is getting content up that people want to read. A few days later, we hit on the idea of a road trip, probably because we have bloggers all over the country, we'd been organizing get togethers for our bloggers to take place on Blogher, so thoughts of moms coming from far-off places to San Francisco were buzzing around in our heads.

Once this idea was on the table, we couldn't even think about search engine optimization anymore (we know, we really have to deal with that at some point). We were envisioning a caravan of cars, carrying flags, driving across the country, picking up bloggers along the way. And since we know GM has been doing a lot of outreach to bloggers, we thought maybe GM would lend us a fleet of cars.

Then we got realistic (perhaps after filling our cars up with $4.60 a gallon Silicon Valley gas). A road trip across the country was going to be expensive. Yes, there's that gas, there's also hotels and food. So we downsized to one car (which GM indeed provided; GM later took on many of the other expenses) and rounded up a few additional sponsors to help cover the rest of the costs. Six Apart stepped in to help promote the event across the blogosphere. The fact that we were able to get any corporations to buy into this crazy idea at such a late date was amazing.

We put together a small group of drivers (feeling horribly guilty that we couldn't include everyone; moms hate playing favorites). We're still making hotel and restaurant reservations.

We don't do product reviews on our blogs. So what you won't see blogged from this road trip is detailed information or opinions about the gear our sponsors have provided to make the trip happen. Instead, we've asked our bloggers to simply chronicle their experiences, the good, the bad, the funny, the plain weird. They can mention our sponsors, but they don't have to. For example, we had a question from one of our bloggers today: can she just say, "I got in the car," or does she have to say, "I got in the Chevy." We told her car is fine. We will have our sponsors logos displayed prominently--we are grateful to them for funding this adventure. Does this make it an advertorial? I don't think so, but I have a feeling that'll be debated heavily in the comments below. And that's fine.

Because this road trip is a mad experiment. We're hoping for a great read (and a made-for-TV movie, perhaps?). We're hoping for adventures, but nothing illegal or too dangerous. We're hoping for lots of humor and a little conflict (but not too much). We're hoping our sponsors like seeing their logos on the screen so they'll fund it again next year.

But truthfully, we don't know what will happen.

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Comments

Mel

I don't think anything is wrong with showing appreciation to your sponsors, but if it is in an uncomfortable or fake way then skip it. Everyday we are advertising depending on what we are wearing, the shopping bags we carry, the products we use. That's just ife! I think it is awesome that these people are helping make your cross country journey that much more fun. I am so excited to follow along with you!!

Dawn

I think that this is a great example of companies understanding and working within the new realities of marketing. We are over marketed as a culture and we are burnt out by product placements, etc. Letting people use products and talk about them honestly is a huge breakthrough. I have huge respect for the sponsors of this trip for "getting it." And if it means a heck of a lot of fun for you all and fun reading for us, then extra yay!

Carrie

I am jealous! Can't wait to read all about it.

veep veep

I don't think its advertorial at all.

If for the first 10 minutes a new mama who joins the car is all "I can't believe there is even a Hybrid Tahoe", "driving along in our Tahoemobile" and "Vroom Vroom Vroom goes our Tahoe-y" she is clearly excited!

If someone reading/watching has a problem then they are just jelly they aren't along for the ride. Plain and simple. You are all in for an exciting trip.

What you ladies are doing is something fun and you needed sponsors to make it all happen. So everyone watching should just watch/read and enjoy.

I certainly will be. :)

Micki LeSueur

I actually think this is great. We all need/buy different products and anyone interested in sponsoring you would have the type of product I would generally be in the market for. I'd rather see 'em in real action with real people then some artsy abstract commercial! Now about that hybrid Tahoe...

annie sal

What a way to travel, and hang with your girlfriends, and try out some new products all at the same time...I can't wait to hear all about it! I sure hope someone is using a video camera and documenting all this because it has the makings of a TV movie/Lifetime kind of movie...perfect. I'm sure there will be some moments and memories to always remember. Most of all, this is your "girls just wanna have fun" week, so enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

Francis

Thank you very good and a healthy writing. I will definitely keep track of posts and the occasional visit. Looking forward to reading your next post.

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