Thursday, June 21

Seeing Green Over Nikon: Eric Eggertson

Eric Eggertson calls it envy. Mark Rose called it a big payoff. Jordan Behan, who pens Tell Ten Friends (a good blog too) agrees that it is polarizing bloggers, but opted to post his thoughts as a comment.

Never has a digital camera been blamed for so many things or been called so many names. So much so that one might think the "D" in the Nikon D80 stands for Darth Vader. Although the people of Picturetown USA only received free D40s, you would think neighboring towns would form a Rebel Alliance to strike down the Imperial Empire seeded by Nikon.

At least that is what you would think the way some bloggers talk about the 50 long-term loaners (with the option to buy at a discount after one year) that Nikon passed out as part of a blogger outreach campaign. Some think it is important enough of a discussion that CustomScoop's PR Blog Jots even noted Eggertson's and my brief discussion (though reading Eggertson's reply to my inquiry, one might think it was a debate). CustomScoop even asked who might be right, which is humorous to me because I hadn't taken a real position other than to point out there is no ethical breach in blogger outreach unless the loaner is conditional on positive reviews (it is not).

Really, for me, the whole discussion is much ado about nothing. Or, if it is something, then that something is the propensity for bloggers to sometimes make something out of nothing. Eggertson, whose blog I actually like, drives this point home by suggesting the Nikon campaign was designed to create envy in other people ...

"There are giveaways every day on radio stations, in newspapers and elsewhere. And the suppliers of the prizes get more than a product mention in return. Their product is positioned as something that, under other circumstances, you might have received. They are objects of envy."

No, the best blog posts don't always come from comments. Giveaways are not designed to make people envious and jealous (though that might be an unintended side effect). They are and always have been something much simpler: the human equivalent of a Skinner Box.

A Skinner Box, which is a laboratory apparatus used in the experimental analysis of studying behavior, is designed to reward the behavior of an animal (most likely a mouse or a rat) until instrumental conditioning occurs and the animal repeats the actions even without the reward. In humans, it works even better because we don't need to receive a reward; we can simply imagine one, which is why so many people play McDonald's Monopoly.

The Nikon blogger outreach program doesn't really make the cut in being a true giveaway because there is nothing you can do to get the reward. Well, maybe, as Eggerston went on to mention, "I’ve had my eye on the Nikon digital SLRs for years, since I have a few thousand dollars worth of Nikon lenses.'

Ho hum. Cameras don't create envy (or jealously for that matter), people do. Both are emotions: jealousy being the fear of losing something to another person (which clearly does not apply here) and envy is the pain or frustration caused by another person having something that one does not have oneself. Over a camera?

You know, having worked on a few campaigns that have put envy into play, the goal was never to create envy in other people as much as it was to make consumers who could afford the product think that their purchase would create envy in other people. That makes a lot more sense because there would be no point in Nikon trying to create "blogger envy" in an outreach campaign.

No Iago, envy only resides in people who succumb to it. But then again, I'm more inclined to celebrate other people's wins than fret over them or attempt to make them feel less credible just because they happened to have better Flickr photo files or whatever arbitrary measure was applied in deciding which blogger was invited to participate. That's right. Good for them.

As I said before, other than MWW CEO Michael Kempner saying that some bloggers were complaining about the campaign because they did not get a camera (a tactic that surely would produce the opposite of what a blogger outreach program is intended to do, er, I hope), the controversy over the Nikon camera campaign is much ado about nothing. Case closed.



kystorms on 6/21/07, 12:34 PM said...

Some thing near to this was played out late last year, when Microsoft gave away laptops loaded with Vista - read about it on Scobleizer in Dec 06. Many were also upset that some got and others felt they should have been included... actually had MS asking for the Laptops back I do believe.
I sure would love that camera though, cameras are a weakness I have :-) great post Rich!

Rich on 6/21/07, 1:29 PM said...

Thanks Lisa,

Yes, I read a little about the laptop fiasco. It reminded me of a Clark County Commission meeting a few years ago when one of the commissioners deduced that no other district should get a park unless all districts had an equal number of parks (never mind population differences and land availability). The infinite wisdom of commission was to all but ban building parks (for a little while anyway).

As for the camera, I'm sure a lot of people would love that one (it seems awfully big for my tastes). But I think there is a giant leap between wanting something and begrudging others of having it.

I have three cameras (I think I said too before, but I have a film one two): my old but reliable Nikon N50 (film); a Fujifilm 2800Z (which is great outdoors, not so great inside with low light; though my son likes it); and a new Sony Cybershot W50 (a gift) that met my "travel light" requirements. I'm happy with that. :)


kystorms on 6/21/07, 3:00 PM said...

Sony has great cameras, I have the DSC-S90 that my son gave me before he left for overseas and its great! I do want to switch up to a nice Mavica, I used one some time ago and the pictures came out amazing. I have never tried a real "film" camera, may have to do that some day as well :-)

Rich on 6/21/07, 4:22 PM said...

I'm pretty impressed with the Sony too.

And your comment is very funny. My son asked us yesterday ... what's a record player? Ha, I said, you'll likely never know.

Eric Eggertson on 6/23/07, 8:30 AM said...

Case closed, or propped open slightly by your post?

Maybe desire would have been a better word for me to use.

I guess I've never really thought of envy as being so bad. I can be envious of a friend's freedom to jet off for a winter vacation in Tuscany without wanting to take anything away from that person.

I tend to respond to the giveaway phenomenon selectively. If I think a contest will get me on someone's junk mail list, I'll resist unless the prize is just too good to pass up.

Our local liquour store always has a half-dozen giveaways going -golf umbrellas, baseball caps, coolers, barbecues, etc. I've been known to fill in my name and address sometimes, but only when it's something I wouldn't immediately sell on eBay. If the desire ain't there, I don't want more crap in my life.

Rich on 6/23/07, 9:44 AM said...

Hey Eric,

Thanks for addition, especially because I hope it shows why I like your blog and insights in general.

While I might be closing the case on Nikon Blogger Outreach Program (at least for me), I think there could be more discussion on the greater giveaway topic that you've forwarded. It's very good.

Yes, I think desire would have been the perfect word, especially as it pertains to picture quality that those bloggers might produce (or not). If the pictures look great, and people attribute the greatness to the camera (and not the people). If that happens, then Nikon stands a chance to shift consumer behavior to purchase this camera as opposed to other cameras.

As for giveaways in general, you present several interesting concepts that could be talked about in depth, especially in that you represent a sophisticated contest entrant. The opposite are those, I suppose, who enter everything and pack rat their various wins (and those that win and sell it on Ebay).

Or those who are like me. Generally, I avoid them, a side effect of once writing for entertainment magazines in Las Vegas and then owning/managing a trade publication for concierges. I received so many teasers, offers, contest promoters, and invitations that I just started ignoring them all. (The trade pub has been long sold and I still get them from time to time.)

So, that said, I think a breakdown of giveaway participants and the psychology behind it is very deep. I mean, isn't that the fear of companies who partner with radio station remotes? Are we getting consumers or giveaway groupies?

All my best,

Eric Eggertson on 6/26/07, 6:51 AM said...

Definitely an interesting area to pursue.

I'm the same about ignoring things, but it's banner ads that I won't touch. Before I had my PC super secure, I became paranoid about clicking on the wrong ad and having some bit of code lurking on my computer.

I'm no longer afraid of that happening so much, but the habit is ingrained. If someone's paying per click, they'll rarely pay for me, even though I see the ads, and often am affected by the message.

Rich on 6/26/07, 12:59 PM said...

I agree Eric. While never paranoid about it, I'm more inclined to make a mental note and visit direct another time, assuming it interests me, which most of them do not.

It speaks volumes about how click throughs are not necessarily the answer for online advertising payments. Though, I guess for some people, it really works.

Anonymous said...

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Rich on 11/29/07, 4:09 PM said...


Really, you might want to consider what spam comments say about you. I loved the other spam comment that praised the sister post at recruiting bloggers for it's perfect timing at providing insight into cameras.

What a laugh. Maybe worth a post.


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