Sunday, March 22, 2015

No red boxes for me :-(

Back in January, I received an interesting e-mail from a marketing company:

I’ve just come across your blog,, and am contacting you to see if you’d be interested in working with our client, Hornby, on a product review?

We’d love to send you one of their products for you to try. All we ask for in return is a post on your blog featuring the product and a link to the Hornby site.

How does that sound?

If you’re interested in collaborating with them on this, please have a quick browse on their site and let me know what kind of product you’d like us to send you.
This all sounded interesting. After a little asking around, it turned out that I wasn't alone, a couple of other bloggers had received the same offer. It seemed that Hornby had decided to dip a toe into more unusual forms of marketing - bypassing the traditional magazines and trying for some traction in social media.
I replied that I'd be delighted to join in. While I don't really need any more toy train stuff, it seemed a cheap way to bag a few specific blog projects.
After a little discussion, I put my request in for:

  • R9643 - Derelict Cottage No. 1 (Unpainted) £11.85
  • R9755 - Utility Warehouse - Low Relief £14.99
  • R8991 - Water Works Building £21.99
  • R8952 - SkaleLighting Bulbs x 4 £6.15
  • R8947 - SkaleLighting Power Strip £7.75
  • R6631 - RailRoad Breakdown Crane £19.99
  • R3283 - RailRoad Bagnall Shunter Locomotive £29.99
Total cost at RRP £112.71
This wasn't quite what they were expecting. I think that most people asked for a big loco, but I decided that this selection would fit in more with the ethos of this blog. Also, I really fancy one of those Bagnalls to play with.
Anyway, all was agreed and I waited. In the meantime, over on Albion Yard there was a very detailed K1 review so I knew models were being dished out.
Chasing up the offer, it seems that having been agreed, the pause button had been hit on the whole project.
To quote the marketing company handling the whole thing, "I can confirm that they do want to put this on hold for now, however, I will hopefully be in touch in the near future to pick this up with you."
So, no new toys for me then. I should have asked for a big chuff-chuff.
Seriously though, I'm not worried about the lack of goodies. There is more than enough stuff sitting around awaiting my attention and if I get bored of that, then I have several boxes of kits and projects for my own entertainment.
Maybe if I was a newbie blogger then I'd be a lot more disappointed. After all, it's exciting to be given things for review - I remember the excitement when it first happened to me.
It's a shame that the project wasn't carried though too as it would be interesting to see what the results were. Obviously if you can't afford to send models to magazines where they will garner many thousands of readers the it makes sense that you can't send it to bloggers who might only give you a few hundred.
Mind you, perhaps it's better for mainstream model railway companies to leave the blogasphere alone. Long term readers may remember the projects sent my way by Idealo - who no longer have a model railways category!


Paul B. said...

I did wonder about this new strategy of sending models to bloggers to review, as bloggers are (hopefully) more likely to give a 'warts and all' appraisel of a new product than a magazine. After all most magazine reviewers usually just flesh out 'it looks nice and runs well'.
Not only that but blogs would I'm sure have a smaller readership than the 'big four' mags.

Dodgy Geezer said...

The big concern for any readers is whether the offer of free kit would modify the opinions of the appraiser. It can be a bit of a slippery slope.

The aim of the marketer is to get influential people talking about the product. The people who commission magazine articles will read social media blogs, and persuading them that 'X' is the latest fashion can require quite small amounts of work. Then you sit back and let the magazine do your 'heavy lifting' advertising...

Phil Parker said...

There are lots of problems with sending stuff to bloggers.

For a start, you will find people who believe "Blue box good. Red Box bad." and vice versa. These are often the people on forums moaning that magazine reviews are biased, when they mean "not biased in the way I want."

Get past this and it's true, for many people being provided with free toys will be the cause of a glowing review whatever is in the box. Again, this is something the mags don't generally suffer from as they get free toys from everyone.

Ideally, you punt the product to someone who knows a lot abou t the prototype, they say something nice and being recognised as the expert in the field, add kudos to the model. Problem is, people who live for a single protoype (they exist) will probably take the opporunity to show off by picking faults.

Finally, blogs will provide much less coverage. You might get a viral review but the chances unless it's a rant, are tiny.

It's an interesting and brave experiment but I can see that it's also one that you'd drop as soon as budgets are tight.