Thursday, 29 October 2009

Tempted By the Breville

This is the email I fear:

Dear Stan

I first came across your blog when I saw a link to your bingo post, which I loved. What I particularly enjoyed was how you didn’t so much cock a snook at the ignominious stench that is online marketing as ram an indignant thumb into its odious plastic anus, even though you could have used the money. I remember saying to a friend at the time, ‘This chap Stan Cattermole is an inspiration to us all. One thing’s for sure, you’ll never see him selling out his principles for a fistful of shekels or a bag of pelf scratchings.’ Then, a mere matter of weeks later, it happens. You sold your soul. And for what? For a fucking toastie machine. Well, I don’t mean to be harsh, but you’ve let everyone down and frankly, I hope you choke to death on one of your toasties.


No one wants to receive an email like that, so as I stand on the threshold of venality, I steel myself and I wonder, do I dare? Do I dare hawk a peach? Or indeed, anything at all which I have not created myself.

In the couple of weeks since all the fun of the bingo post, I’ve had a couple of other people approach me with offers of blog promotional activity. Whether they came on the back of the bingo post or not, I cannot say. However, as I tend to with all such offers, I replied asking for more details.

One lady, who seems quite nice and is therefore almost certainly in entirely the wrong line of work, so I won’t name her, offered me $60 dollars if I would include a link to one of her clients in an old post. Specifically, she wanted me to add a link to my old Everybody’s Free (To Wear A Paper Bag) post. More specifically, she wanted me to change this:

Wear good clothes. The expression ‘You can’t polish a turd’ is a vicious, pernicious lie. You most certainly can polish a turd. Indeed, it is your duty as a human turd to polish yourself daily, and a fine wardrobe is some of the best turd-polish money can buy.

…to this:

Wear good clothes – the wholesale clothing you own only looks good on the deliciously faux models on the site….

…with the words ‘wholesale clothing’ linked to some online clothes shop. The link would have to stay there for a year.

I didn’t fancy this. Mostly I didn’t fancy it because I’m quite proud of the Paper Bag post and the thought of butchering it for money seemed like the kind of thing that only a real soulless shitbag might do. Particularly for such a paltry sum.

The other one was more interesting. Basically I was offered the opportunity to receive a free gift from an online store and write an honest review of it. Now, although I disdain the kind of duplicitous garbage that bingo-boy was suggesting, I happen to love free gifts. Also, the opportunity to write an ‘honest review’ was appealing. If I didn’t like the product, I could say so, and with as much vitriol as I pleased. Also, the guy who approached me had actually seen my blog and could even string a half- decent sentence together himself. So I checked out the store.

I was allowed to choose something to the value of $70-80. Naturally, most of the stuff I really wanted cost considerably more – for example, there was a leather office chair which cost around $3,000. I really wanted that.

There was also a rug.

My room at the moment is spacious and fine. The only thing that displeases me about it – apart from the smell of stale tobacco smoke – is the carpet, which is cheap and bobbly and timeworn. So when I saw that I could pick up a delightful brightly coloured nine foot by five foot rug within the given price range, my heart soared. I wrote back to Jamie at the promotions company and said I’d love the rug. I told him it would really tie the room together. Which was true. Unfortunately Jamie had made a mistake and wasn’t able to ship my rug from the States to Englandshire. Instead he asked me to choose something from a few UK sites, which weren’t as good. Eventually, however, I found a toastie maker and I thought what the hell.

So here we are.

However, I still have my doubts. Part of me always agreed with Bill Hicks that anyone who advertises anything is bereft of all integrity, just another whore at the capitalist gang bang. But then there’s Stephen Fry – possibly the most universally respected celebrity in the history of celebrity – who apparently makes over a hundred grand a year doing ads and seemingly has no qualms whatsoever about adding his voice to even the most ghastly product. (I'm sure he gives it all to charity. He must. Mustn't he?)

Either way, it’s a weird thing. It’s a dilemma.

I, of course, am no one. I’m just a struggling blogger trying to keep my Johnson hard in a cruel and harsh world, and I happened to have been offered a toasted sandwich maker. All I have to do is link to the cookware site in question in this post and then post an honest review when my bribe gift arrives.

So I’m doing it. And as long as I don’t have to betray myself by being anything less than honest, I think I’ll manage to sleep at night. In fact, if anyone else wants to give me stuff for free and all they want me to do is link and opine, then I’ll do that too. If anyone wants to offer me a rug, for example. Or a $3,000 chair. Or anything really. I love freebies. Is that so wrong?

And remember, I’m not saying you should go and buy anything from anything from the cookware store in question. I really couldn’t give a monkey's. I'd be surprised if you did in fact, because it is frighteningly expensive. But the fact is, I love a nice toastie.

Anyway, that’s it. I know some of you will think nothing of it, but I’m sure some of you will shake your heads and think less of me. I guess the reason I’ve made such a meal of this post is that I kind of agree with both schools of thought. I'm between a rock and a hard place. Between the Breville and the deep blue sea.

So what do you reckon? Unscrupulous opportunistic cynical whore? Or thoroughly decent chap with a pile of debt and a yen for hot cheese and curried beans?

Please be nice.

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Andy said...

How could I condemn you when you use phrases like "ram an indignant thumb into its odious plastic anus"?

Enjoy the toasties. Me, I love mature cheddar and pickle. Ooooooooooo......

La Bête said...

Oh, bless you, Andy. Now I can sleep.

Anonymous said...

so long as you're honest that you're pimping product, and you can write the bad with the good? don't think it's a big deal.

man's gotta eat. mmm.... toasties...

recommend trying the "Elvis": Peanut Butter & Banana. Elvis used bacon fat instead of butter, and reportedly ate a dozen sandwiches at a time... we'll want pictures of this, of course...

lilianavonk said...

Mistah Stan, I think you should ram an indignant thumb--or even better, a contemptuous middle finger--in the direction of anyone who would write that sort of email, cos clearly this would be the sort of person completely oblivious to the exigencies of modern life...and thus someone whose opinions should not remotely concern you.

And thus as you've already said--far more eloquently--Shakespeare got to get paid, son. You got da skills dat pay da bills, so sod anyone who thinks highfalutin scruples are affordable in this day and age, eh?

PurestGreen said...

I will always think you're super, unless you start selling skin care products, which I think are made from evil.

Grated mature cheddar (Isle of Mull is nice), very finely chopped leeks on sourdough bread. Trust me.

Anonymous said...

"Between the Breville and the deep blue sea."

Worth it for that alone.

Anonymous said...

Bonjour La Bête,
Why choose between black or white when there is an infinite range of colors in between.
Make money with your blog if you can, without becoming a dishonest bastard.
Every weakness will be forgiven if it's well written.
But what about this toaster ?
Do you have it yet ? Is it any good ?
Uncle Did

Antipo Déesse said...

Advertise and be damned! Monetize the hatemail too!

I will have to send you a jar of my luscious Carrot, Ginger and Almond chutney to go with a hard cheese toastie.

Jimbobthomas said...

Thank you Andy,

I now have a coffee flavoured nasal cavity and a semi-submerged keyboard as a result of your cookware link.

It burns, it burns...!

La Bête said...

Thank you all for your kind words. A splendid start to the day. It feels like Friday somehow, but it's not. Must be the fact that I'm not working tomorrow. Woo hoo! But for now, I gotta rush for I am late....

Did, no, I had to link to their site in this post, then they're going to send it. I'm excited.

Antipo, that chutney sounds fab.

Bye all!

Larry Teabag said...

I think you're ahead of the curve here, marketing types have told me that self-loathing advertising is the next big thing.

It'll certainly liven up day time tv, anyway. Imagine: Kerry Katona laying bare her soul, pleading for understanding and weeping that iceland isn't that evil really, as she exposes the scars of years of failed boob-jobs. I can't wait.

Anonymous said...

Sold your soul for a toastie maker!? That's a bit dramatic, isn't it? Choke on a toastie? So much bile... so much anger... so much judgement... I'd have whored myself for a mere slice of brie!

I think you should set your sights higher, though, than a crappy little toastie maker. You're just not trying hard enough. How about a Gaggia espresso maker, or a Dyson for your rug? And the rug? Make sure it's Persian and handmade - c'mon!

You write so magnificently - the best I've read in a long time – I'd forgive you anything. And I bet you can make even the Japanese business reports read like prose. You are fast-becoming my favourite current writer.

You forgot George Clooney and the crap coffee ads, Jennifer Aniston and the credit card ads, Kim Cattrall and the Lipton tea ads, the Beckhams (now they whore about in style).

I'd like a ham toastie, please. Not allowed cheese.

janetyjanet said...

check your morals at the door and milk them for all they're worth baby!

ps. cheese & banana - I know, I know, but try it, it's gooooood

Beleaguered Squirrel said...

We live under capitalism. Which means we need money to survive. Which means we're all fucked already. Simply by trying to make a living out of writing you are already selling your soul to the devil, so you may as well go the whole hog.

But never mind all that. I too need a toastie maker, and spent a bit of time online trying to find one a few months ago. All I found was some kind of sandwich grill thing, which I bought in the absence of anything else, thinking surely it would do the job... and it so doesn't. It's very annoying. It doesn't seal the edges, so all the fillings leak out. Particularly cheese.

So. I am jealous.

Rose said...

I think as long as you're alright with what you are doing, then whatever goes. At the end of the day, you have to answer to yourself.
Enjoy your toasties!

Misssy M said...

I'd rather read a review of something which is witty and intelligent than read a blog packed full of links to other folk's articles, YouTube links and other stuff they had no hand in producing. Blogging is dying on its arse because of that kind of crap.

I also enjoyed the correspondent's letter though, too-come to think of it. But there you are.

My point is- do what you want, but for god's sake do it your way. Then I'm happy.

AndrewM said...

Why not rename your site 'Which Toasted Sandwich Maker'.

Can you afford to go to the pub now?

Mike Booth said...

Hicks also said, regarding doing ads, that "if you're a struggling actor or whatever, I'll look the other way..." - so I think you're safe.

And he also had the advantage of not living long enough to sell out. He probably would have done. The only person I can think of who never has is Bill Watterson. Even Noam Chomsky did that Budweiser commercial.

I look forward to your report on the sandwich machine.

Anonymous said...

Hey, you gotta eat! And that sandwich looks yummy.

Maria in Oregon

Miss Mohair Walks Abroad said...

I'm not too sure what I think Stan. I will have to keep pondering.

Tinned spag with cheese is surprisingly yummy in a toastie. And I'd like some of that Carrot, Ginger and Almond chutney please Antipo.

Nick Tann said...

I was speaking to a fellow musician this week about this kind of thing. He told me that a producer had wanted to use one of his songs. It was just a one off, he would retain all of his writers rights but this producer wanted him to play to a click track. The producer would pay all the studio fees and cover all production costs and they would be sure to make a tidy sum as this producer fellow is quite well connected.
He refused saying that to play to a click track would sap the soul out of the tune.
I couldn't believe this bloke. He's not a full time muso, he has a day job like me. He could always record the song his way at a later date, his way I told him. Who the fuck would care except him?
He could take his wife and daughter away for a nice little holiday with the proceeds, they wouldn't care.

Do we all lead such noble and pious lives?
Do we all eat organic fair trade food? Do we all make our own energy? We give vast amounts of money to charity and run soup kitchens for neglected kittens in our spare time do we?
No, we just do our bit the best we can, so why deny ourselves?

I say take the money, who fucking cares?

I fucking hate toasties though.......

Nicky said...

Some people seem to think that e-mail was real, which made me smile even more. Hey, it's all good material, who really has a soul anymore anyway?

Anonymous said...

Quite frankly, B, this is bloody outrageous. And I'm not sure I can forgive it. Not sure at all.

I mean, really, what is this gibberish;

...And remember, I’m not saying you should go and by anything from anything from the...

I wish I knew how to put that 'by' in bold, but I don't.

As for the advertising stuff, people talk such juvenile poppycock, don't they?

Nick T, tell me where your friend lives, so that I can go around there and give him a great big bloody boot up the backside.

I'm sure Stephen Fry earns a lot more than a hundred grand per year from advertising insurance and tea etc. But who the hell gives a flying foxtrot?

We all need insurance. Somebody's got to do the voice over. And if anyone now starts whining about out of work actors, then I think I'm going to have to burst into a rage and suffer a mild coronary.

John Peel, just about one of the loveliest (and painfully liberal) of men used to earn a handsome sum from tv voice-overs (toilet roll, rather than insurance). His only concern was that the product was safe, hippie friendly, made from lovely stuff, non-fascist etc. Which seems fair enough. And he turned down a lot more work than he accepted (as I'm sure does Fry).

If these guys say no, then Griff Rhys Jones will say yes.

If it's an inoffensive item and a company is stupid enough to pay you to advertise it, then take the money and say thanks very much.

I'm surprised (though grateful) that none of your posters have started sobbing yet about Iggy Pop selling out.

Bloody cry babies.


Beleaguered Squirrel said...

And another thing. That bloody Iggy Pop. Fucking sell-out.

Swineshead said...

I thought you were a copywriter by trade? That's commercial writing, isn't it?

I wouldn't worry about it. Take the money and eat toasties till you shit!

lilianavonk said...

While I am once again left shaking my head in horrified disbelief at the British concept of nutrition, I'm much more inclined to forgive you for selling your soul for a toastie maker than I am David Morrissey for doing that McDonald's commercial.

I mean, you win on style alone there, m'dear. ;)

Michael said...

Dan said...

I've had the same dilema myself, and posted a blog post about it which in turn set a very small section of the internet alight for a couple of days.

My conclusion is I'm going to stop doing it. I think. But I'm still not really sure.

My advice is do it once and see how dirty you feel.