Bloggers; have you ever been bullied by a brand?

Last week the SA importer for an international brand threatened to sue me for a lukewarm product review. They wanted me to remove the review and make some kind of big deal apology otherwise they were going to sue me for loss of income as well for ‘reputational damage to the brand’ plus their legal costs. How dare I call their products expensive?! Or say that I thought it only worked ‘a tad’…


Fortunately, they backed off and agreed to a ‘truce’ after I took my dilemma to twitter where it created a nice, fat flurry of outrage. People couldn’t believe a brand would stoop to such petty bullying tactics or that they seriously thought they had a legal leg to stand on. I mean, come on now… I was merely expressing my opinion, which I’m entitled to, on my personal blog.

Anyway, I feel it’s important to tell you what happened if only to serve as a lesson to other brands. Misguided attempts to censor how you’re perceived can result in ten times as much negative press.

Anyway, now that that’s all water under the bridge, there are few things I’d like to get off my chest…

#1 I won’t tolerate bullies. But I think you’ve gathered that.

#2 PR people! Please explain to your clients that when you give their products to bloggers for a review, they’re in no way entitled to a good one. Bloggers aren’t like magazines. Our hands aren’t tied in regards to what we write due to the fear of pissing off advertisers. There’s a chance we won’t like every product you send us, but it’s a risk worth taking because a good blog review can carry more weight than those in print. While people tend to spot things in mags, they go online to see what ‘real people’ are saying before deciding whether it might be worth their hard-earned cash. Thus, approaching honest, unpaid bloggers can be a bit hit and miss, but when you do ‘strike gold’ with an unbiased, honest blogger, it’s definitely worth having taken the risk.

#3 I’m often asked what I do when I receive a crappy product that I don’t want to endorse so let me put it out there once and for all: If I come to the conclusion that it’s utter irredeemable kak, I’ll tell the PR person just that. I’ll say ‘I can write this review, but it won’t be pretty’ and then give them the option of scrapping it. Nine times out of ten they’ll suggest I rather leave it unwritten and I’m okay with this. Life’s too short to give publicity to crappy products. Also, my credibility is my best asset. I write for you my readers, not PR companies. I never want to damage the trust you’ve placed in me by endorsing something I know to be rubbish. Still, I want to make it clear that this is just me. There are plenty of other bloggers out there who are very happy to whore out everything they’re given for fear off pissing off the PR person or brand and never being given anything else again.

Now in saying all that, you should know that 90% of the PR companies I deal with are very cool in regards to accepting negative feedback. I often criiinge when I fire off a mail saying I don’t want to help promote something, but more often than not the PR person on the receiving end totally ‘gets it’ and it improves our relationship going forward.

So ja… here’s a big thank you to all of you who supported me via twitter and e-mail the other day; there are too many of you to thank individually, but I appreciated the krag I got from each and every one of you. Oh! And for the record, the PR company attached to aforementioned bullying brand’s importer is one of the nicest I get to work with. Please do not tar them with the same brush.

Now tell me, how do you all feel about all of this? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments section, especially if you’re a fellow blogger. Have you ever had a brand attempt to intimidate you for expressing an opinion? And how do you feel about bullying brands? Let’s talk about it…

Love, love


Update: Due to my truce with the brand’s importer, I’m not approving comments that reveal the brands’ name in the comments section. Just so you know know…

20 thoughts on “Bloggers; have you ever been bullied by a brand?

  1. You handled the incident with pure class, and most importantly did not resort to ugliness or bitterness in your response (unlike some prominent bloggers). Your honesty is refreshing and this is such a great example for everyone on how to deal with corporate bullying, online or otherwise.

  2. Well said. Fuck ’em.

    Life is too short for crap products, poor service and arseholes. While we’re at it, life is too short to deal with people who phone out of the blue when an email/SMS will do. Life is also too short to be nagged or made to feel bad for not being able to RSVP to 20 invites to bullshit launches and events on a daily basis. No reply should be default for ‘can’t come.’ 90% of PR people should also be aware that blogs like LipGloss can’t fill up her car with free laniards or cheap deodorant giveaways.

    Lotsa love,

    Seth Rotherham

    1. Oh Seth, if I could reach through the screen and hug you I would. For the record, the back seat of my car is filled up with free laniards and cheap-ass branded deodorant… ;-P X x x

  3. Please tell me which company this was as I don’t want to support brands or people that have attitude problems & treat people with disrespect!

    1. I’d love nothing more but because of our truce I’m going to bite my tongue. If they come after me again, however, I’ll feel nothing to shout it from the rooftops. After all, I’ll need to raise money to pay for all their ‘loss of income’. They wanted me to extract that from my reader base and multiply that amount by five years. Sjoe!

  4. I have the utmost respect for you and your blog – I know this is one blog to visit for honesty and integrity! I love your attitude towards this sorta stuff because it takes balls to stand up to people – having said that when I say attitude, I don’t at all mean a bad attitude, its an awesome one who many can learn from.
    Keep up the good work Leigh

  5. Good for you! Don’t take their shit… Their product IS expensive and I personally wouldn’t use it. I’m glad you didn’t back down. I read your blog for your opinion of a product, not for some paid response! xo

  6. “Straight talk breaks no friendship” – its applies to all relationships most importantly in business. I loved how you handle the situation Leigh, glad its over now. Looking forward to reading more of your great reviews. Keep up the good work, I love your blog

  7. Well handled Leigh! I admire your honesty and respect for your followers. No brand should ever result to bulliying! Keep up the good work coz we love you for it!

  8. Hey, if that’s what they’re after – there are plenty of online publications and bloggers who will be more than willing to churn out all the press releases they’re fed. Also, when I just started blogging I took on a company about a claim they made. They are 100 times bigger than the company in question here, and even though I did it in what was in retrospect a very impolite way, they were very cool about and never once tried to shut me up. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

    Say no to churnalism!

  9. Well done & well written. I only look for honesty & respect what you’ve done. Somehow it’s easier to bully when you have a big budget behind you… Even though good manners gets better results!

    1. Thanks Renate. I know I came across like I was being very brave, but to be perfectly honest I was absolutely petrified. I’m just glad this whole thing is over and looking forward to a new week.

  10. You did the right thing. There are no grounds for them being able to sue you for defamation or damages – they would have to prove the financial loss, and that it was due to your blogpost. I received a defamation claim two years ago, and am still waiting for the next step…!

    I don’t know why the nice PR consultant you write about still represents the brand? To have a client pay only per positive review is unethical. She deserves what she gets from them by not having fired them!


  11. Dear Leigh
    Well done on standing your ground. As a PR, one of my main jobs it to educate my clients on what is acceptable and what is not. If you want to ensure that you control everything that is written about your brand, take out an advert. The joy about PR is that you can obtain wonderful results if your product or service lives up to your promise. If it doesn’t, it’s not the bloggers problem, but the clients to fix or improve upon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s