Lifestyle Blogging WTF

Adam & Eve Would Prefer You Not Disclose Their Sponsored Post

Alex, of the blog “Classy As F***”, recently posted about the weird disclosure ethics of sex toy company Adam & Eve. It seems they wanted to purchase a sponsored post from Alex – but once her post went up the company had some issues with her (legally required) disclosure:

[A]s it turns out, Adam & Eve aren’t so into having me disclose that it was a sponsored post. I was told (only after it was up) that I was only allowed to say it was a guest post or that it was done “in association with.” Basically, it sounds like they wanted to pass it off as a regular old guest post…

It appears Alex wasn’t the only blogger Adam & Eve tried to drag into their shady tactics. A GOMIer in the forum related their experience with the company, which sounds eerily similar:

They emailed me asking if they could write a guest post about their product, which was pretty relevant to my content and the types of things I write about. They said they’d offer me $100. I had never done anything like this but I figured sure, why the hell not. They wrote it, I published it, and at the bottom I included a note that said I was compensated in exchange for letting them publish the post. They said they needed me to remove that, and I explained that it was required through FTC guidelines (it is, right?) to be transparent about stuff like that. They were basically like “yea, ok, that’s cute and all but you have to take the post down now. We don’t want people to think we’re paying bloggers to publish content about our products. But we will still pay you if you just take it down.” So I got paid $100 to not publish a blog post by them.

Is this a common practice for sponsored posts now? Or is this just one company trying to get one past bloggers who may not know that if they are paid to post something, they MUST disclose it?

  1. avatar Ashe

    Is this a common practice for sponsored posts now? Or is this just one company trying to get one past bloggers who may not know that if they are paid to post something, they MUST disclose it?

    I’ve had several companies (fashion) try to do similar things to me. Often the companies are based out of the UK or Europe, where they don’t have FTC issues to contend with. Often they are from the US and they’re trying to get around the word “sponsored” in the post. I generally explain the legality of what I have to do, and let them know that if it’s a problem, they can find another blog to work with.

    • I have learned that before we get into details, I tell brands about FTC regulations and how I will mention it. And lately a lot of brands aren’t cool with it and decline. I seem to be receiving more and more shady offers from relatively legit brands, and I wonder if it’s because there’s so many blogs these days and run by those who don’t know all the legal issues and brands are taking advantage of it.

      • avatar Ashe

        “I have learned that before we get into details, I tell brands about FTC regulations and how I will mention it. And lately a lot of brands aren’t cool with it and decline.”
        Yes! This. Absolutely. I usually say, “These are my rates, this is what I’m obligated to legally disclose, and these terms are non-negotiable.” As a result, I’ve probably had 5-6 sponsored posts in the course of 6 years, but I’m okay with that.

        It’s always the legit brands that give me pause. I had one from a UK retailer who is super popular amongst the fashion set, and I think a lot of it has to do with them contracting out SEO & online marketing companies (instead of someone internal) to boost their presence… sometimes I wonder if the brand’s reps actually know what is being asked, and that it’s unethical and illegal in the states.

        It’s really just a hot pile of mess.

        • avatar Liv

          Yeah… it was a UK company. They don’t have to follow US laws. Not shady, just not something they need to think about.

  2. avatar FattyMagoo

    I’m glad you picked this up for the front page. It’s completely ridiculous for a company to do this. It’s bad enough when bloggers try to get around it on their own, but for a company to ask them to do it? Ugh.

    • I’m starting to wonder if some bloggers think disclosure isn’t required because companies make requests like this. As in, “well the companies would know the law, and if they don’t require it I guess I don’t either”.

  3. Ugh. Shady, shady business. It really does make me wonder as well if other companies are pulling the same shenanigans and bloggers just aren’t talking/writing about it and passing the posts off as non-compensated content.

    I have to keep an even more skeptical eye on what I read.

    • It may answer some of the “why don’t they ever SAY this is sponsored?” questions we have with some bloggers. Maybe they’re being told not to disclose by the companies, and don’t really realize it’s a legal must.

  4. avatar Amaryllis

    I suspect this happens a lot, which is why I get pissed about less than transparent sponsored posts. I don’t have all the money in the world to throw around. If someone really, honestly liked a product, I’m more inclined to buy it, if their reasons align with my feelings on things. (For example, with my joint problems, I really value things like “doesn’t weight much” and “easy to use”.) To find out they just published a press release as their own work, well, thanks for wasting my time.

  5. avatar Jealous Looser

    hmm, i had a post but i think it disappeared?

    anyway. any time I’ve worked with a company, they’ve sent me the blurb to put at the bottom about it being sponsored or what I received. I can’t believe that company was trying to take advantage of bloggers and their readers like that.

  6. avatar SweetAndSour

    I tried to click on the link to the forum, are the forums down?

  7. avatar Amaryllis

    “weight much”

    so fat, so illiterate.

  8. avatar Eyelash Sweater

    That’s cute. I’ll stick with the Land of the Babes.

    • avatar urkiddinme

      I ‘m only commenting because I saw your screen name on the front page of GOMI and loved the Spongebob reference.

      • avatar Eyelash Sweater

        Omg I love that you got the reference.

        • avatar urkiddinme

          It is one of my favorite episodes. Right up there with Smitty Werbenmanjensen. Which I have used as a screen name myself.

  9. avatar Sarah

    Companies try to pull stuff like this because it’s against Google’s guidelines to provide money — or products — in exchange for links. As you all know, lots of companies break this rule, but at the end of the day, they COULD get penalized.

    Shady? Yes.

  10. avatar New Year New You

    Disclosure schmisclosure. When has the FTC ever chased anyone up for not disclosing a sponsored post. When has the FTC given a fuck what bloggers actually do, beyond the empty words.

    Nevermind all that, where do we get free sex toys to review?

    • avatar Running Errands at My Desk

      Yes the FTC has gone after companies who violate their guidelines. We have a few clients who take that sort of risk with their affiliate blogger program and don’t mind straddling the line on occasion. Not sure Adam & Eve got the right legal advice though. The fines could be high and the FTC usually requires compliance going forward, which could mean thousands in legal fees– not to mention the bad publicity.

      • avatar New Year New You

        Let’s not pretend this is serious in the grand scheme of life. Big company, > little fine > big fucking deal. Revise post.> big fucking deal. Still cheaper than paying for an ad, even with a fine.


        Ain’t no-one killing puppies or going to jail here.

        I mean let’s start making doctors disclose kickbacks instead.

        • avatar harrumph

          Yeah…kind of agree.

        • avatar Running Errands at My Desk

          You’re absolutely right; that’s a risk some companies are willing to take; that they are too small for the FTC to care about. Truth be told the FTC does not go after everyone. But they go after many companies, big or small, who they think violate the guidelines in a way that harms consumers. This is what the FTC does. You may not hear of all of these cases but they actually enforce that stuff. It’s like we tell clients: while there may only be 10% chance you’ll get investigated, are you ready to deal with the fines, legal fees and bad PR if you are one of the unlucky ones? It’s definitely more than a slap on the wrist. A one-off violation is usually no big deal; but systematically paying bloggers and requesting they don’t disclose the sponsorship may give an FTC investigator some pause. It sometimes takes just one disgruntled blogger or consumer…

        • avatar Libby

          So the grand scheme of life doesn’t include sex? Do you know how much PHE/ pay for sponsored results? Do you know that PHE sells toxic sex toys? Do you care?

  11. avatar Alex

    Well now I’m pissed- they didn’t pay me after I took it down ;-P They said they could only process payment if I left it up sans disclosure. They must be getting tired of wasting money on ethical bloggers.

    • Yeesh. I guess we now know where we won’t be buying our adult toys from.

    • avatar Alex

      After this post went up, the marketing company did write to apologize and pay for my time, which was nice of ‘em. Still not allowing the word “sponsored” but I imagine their hands are tied by Adam & Eve. Silly.

  12. avatar Tanie Go To Wanie

    I read a post recently about Google & sponsored posts that was really interesting

    • avatar Rosie

      Thanks for linking to my post, really glad you liked it :)

  13. avatar AQNR

    Everyone I know from the podcast world has had trouble with them. I don’t buy from them because the name skeeves me, but I wouldn’t have knowing what I do about how they treat podcasters, and this shit doesn’t surprise me either.

    Fuck you, Adam and Eve.

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