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Matchstick Marketing For the Loss

May 2nd, 2008 @ 3:20pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

In the summer of 2006 a viral marketing wave blanketed Vancouver. Matchstick, an exciting company out of Toronto, was offering bloggers free stuff as long as they wrote about it, which sounded too good to be true regardless of how questionable their methods were.

- Darren Barefoot: “Matchstick Crosses the Line into Spamming
- Metblogs Vancouver: “Where We All Start Pimpin’ for the Man

Initially John was contacted about getting a free Nokia 6682 and although I had my concerns and doubts, everything worked out wonderfully and he still uses the phone today, and I had mine up until I got the iPhone.

Samsung T10After such a pleasant “no strings attached” experience that first time, that we blogged about and promoted, when I was contacted about the Samsung T10 campaign last fall I was fully on board. My T10 arrived with all the bells and whistles, I wrote a blog post, posted notes to Facebook and told my blogging friends about it even getting Keira hooked up with the mp3 player as well.

Fast forward a few months and I was contacted by two separate Matchstick representatives about the Dove Chocolate campaign. Having had such a positive experience on the two previous promotions I was on board and even blogged about it in advance (on my site and WetCoastWomen). I know several bloggers who signed up because of these posts and received some delicious chocolate. Unfortunately I wasn’t called back about the promo and never received any Dove.

This week I had another email from Matchstick, this time about a portable iPod charger. I thought this was perfect, right up my alley and I would definitely review it for my blog. I had a great talk with the helpful rep from the company over the phone although only a few hours after confirming my shipping address I received an email:

“Due to the fact that you’ve participated in a Matchstick program within the last 12 months. Once we enter into the fall of 2008, we would be more then happy to include you in a new Matchstick program.”

Now this isn’t a matter of “I can’t get free stuff anymore,” because if I really wanted a portable iPod charger, I would probably just head over to Future Shop and buy one myself. The fact that I was emailed, given the survey, had the interview and was approved stings a bit as well but that’s not even the kicker. What gets me is that over the six months I have been emailed by varying Matchstick representatives a total of four times, and other bloggers have emailed me about Matchstick’s promotions at least a dozen times.

I would simply like to ask that if I am on a “disqualified” list, that I not be emailed, called or contacted in any way by this firm. I feel like a real sucker for writing about the Dove campaign (after being emailed and filling out the survey – not once told I didn’t qualify) because I gave them a lot of promotion to thousands of readers across the country meanwhile little did I know, I was ineligible.

disk mode

I’ve defended Matchstick since 2006 (even mentioning them in my panel at Massive Tech Show) and I have to say that in the last few months they really blew it with me. I know there may be some people who just milk the free stuff, but given the readership of my blog and that it’s an Apple iPod accessory they’re wanting to promote, I know it’s definitely their loss (and their client’s loss) not mine.

- Miss604: Vancouver Girl’s Guide to the iPhone
- Miss604: Mac vs PC series
- Miss604: iPod Lightning Bolt Message Help
- Miss604: iPod Disk Mode

If you would like to know about this latest campaign, please talk to me offline as I refuse promote the product publicly due to Matchstick’s policy and their handling of this situation.

I have no plans on dealing with them again in the future, unless my inbox gets inevitably spammed by their team about promotions in which I cannot participate.

Update: After reading email communications between one of the account reps at Matchstick and me, I received a phone call from the Senior Accounts Manager at Matchstick. Here are a few items of note:

- They were truly concerned about my experience and wanted to get my feedback on their processes.

- Just to clarify, the campaign this month would have been for a competing product of the Samsung T10 I already received so that was another conflict. Usually bloggers can participate in two campaigns a year.

- If you do fill out a survey for a campaign this does not mean you are getting the product. They will review your answers and contact you based on the results to ask a few more questions then confirm if you will get the product or not.

- They are aware of the benefits of having a steady database or pool of bloggers with which they have had successful campaigns.

Matchstick read all the comments on this blog post and already has plans to smooth out some of their communication kinks. I appreciate that they took the time to call me back and address my concerns. If they’re willing listen to the voice of the bloggers – or “influencers” as they call them – and take our advice to heart, I’ll certainly be willing to give them another chance. We’ll just have to wait and see if the phone rings (and how many times).

No, I was not paid off to write this and I did get permission from the company to post this update ;-)

Current contests on Miss604.com

17 comments

  1. Darren says:

    I guess they’re technically the competition (though they do far more consumer products than us), but they’ve clearly got some serious record-keeping issues.

    After that debacle two years ago, I was assured (by the CEO, no less) that I wouldn’t be contacted by them again. And, of course, last week they me pitched again for a Zune.

    And that’s a silly policy, anyway. I mean, one a year? A wider number would be, like, six. This is advantageous in two ways–it doesn’t force Matchstick to do more work and seek out less influential blogs, and it enables them to build lasting relationships with bloggers.

    Of course, in my case, it’s always a different person spamming me from Matchstick, so the whole ‘relations’ thing may not be important to them.

  2. Duane Storey says:

    I got contacted a few weeks ago and told they liked my content and would give me something. Of course, after I filled out their crud I was denied for some reason. So, next time I’m not putting in the effort.

  3. Last year with the Samsung MP3 player they contacted me again and I turned them down since I’m happy with my iPods and am Mac only anyway so I couldn’t be bothered dealing with it. Then they contacted me again. And again. And again.

    Like you I had stood up for them, my post was about Darren’s complaints about them spamming him. Yet after they kept calling and emailing I’ve fallen into agreement with his original position, especially after they started spamming our comments last year.

    http://vancouver.metblogs.com/2007/11/29/matchstick-please-stop-the-spam/

  4. Raul says:

    I was also contacted (I don’t know why I didn’t remember to chat about this over lunch!) about the Zune. Haven’t heard back from them yet. But I’m totally with Darren and Duane and Jeffery and you – this is not the way to go.

    I’ll let you know if they contact me again. It’s funny how even though they mentioned that they wanted to see influential bloggers talk about them, we are, but we’re not satisfied with their performance. :-(

  5. Tyler Ingram says:

    I did the Samsung T10 and haven’t heard from them since. Not much of a PR company if they aren’t willing to keep you on to promote products for other companies. Especially when you have a large readership.

    I did have another PR company get in touch with me and they will be sending me some things to try out. I also do reviews for Futurelooks.com which I really enjoy.

    Too bad Matchstick isn’t into giving repeat business to good clients. Oh well…

  6. colleen says:

    i’ll be blogging about this tomorrow on http://www.buzznetworker.com. I have about 50K unique views a month there. I was turned down for a matchstick campaign because i don’t eat chocolate every damn day. i’m sorry, i’m trying to be HEALTHY. just sayin.

  7. [...] don’t do it for money, nor for work. I do it for myself, and for the fun of it. However, with the recent Matchstick debacle/discussion, clearly written by Miss604, my ego was (albeit for a brief moment) very much stroked. I was called “influential [...]

  8. They also need to tell people right away if they don’t qualify.
    I was contacted seperately about the Dove one and did their little survey and then nothing…bit annoying.

  9. [...] – Chris Brogan touches on a topic we’ll be covering on our panel at Convergence 2008. After my experience with Matchstick (and those pitching me multiple times a day via my lovely contact form) I’m feeling pretty [...]

  10. [...] to ‘Influencers’, as it terms them, has certainly earned Matchstick its share of ups and downs. On the one hand, everyone likes free stuff, but on the other, I started this blog purely as a [...]

  11. [...] my mouth shut anyway, so here I am, doing so. Dale raised a cautionary yellow flag, passing along this link from Miss 604, but to my thinking people emailing me monthly or so, offering me free stuff, is something [...]

  12. Tim Kuesker says:

    Let me see if I get this…you’re ranting because you feel entitled to receive another freebie from matchstick, but they won’t give yo uone this time, oohhh boo hooo poor you. By your own admission, they already gave you a Samsung T10 MP3 Player, and Nokia 6682….guess you’re looking for another freebie to sell on eBay and earn some $$$…cheapskate.

  13. Miss604 says:

    Hi Tim,

    Since the email you supplied in the comment form was invalid I’ll post my reply here instead of sending you a private note.

    On Wed, Jul 2, 2008 at 3:33 AM,
    Author : Tim Kuesker (IP: 69.196.135.161 , 69-196-135-161.dsl.teksavvy.com)

    Thanks for the note Tim,

    Please feel free to browse the archives of my site and read about my past experiences with Matchstick and how I used each product sent my way. I did end up receiving product from them after this debacle and I gave it away at two seperate public events (with hundreds of other bloggers) because I did not feel it would be right to keep it. I never thought of creating an eBay account, mind you Craigslist would be easier don’t you think?

    My concerns were with Matchstick’s practices, their methods of spamming bloggers, and their obvious disorganization behind the scenes. Feel free to watch this video that also explains my position: http://www.viddler.com/explore/Miss604/videos/10/

    Thank you for the concern,

    Rebecca

  14. Jennifer McIntosh says:

    I also qualified for the Dove chocolate and have not received it yet. It has been over a month!!!

  15. Vanessa says:

    So in the end, you ended up participating in the 3rd promotional campaign even though you went over the 2/year limit? Oh man, if there’s a 2/year quota, I’ve already used one of my Matchstick promotions helping them out with their O.B. Tampons campaign!!!! Should have waited for chocolate instead? :)

  16. [...] I’m reminded of my panel on Blogger Relations from Convergence 2008… and also of my Matchstick FTL post (although they’ve been very good to me lately). Overlay actually now hosts social media [...]

  17. Kym says:

    I found your post because I googled “matchstick marketing” after they emailed me about holding a contest on my blog for “harajuku lovers” perfume set. I knew they were just emailing this en masse because in the email it said “i think the videos you’ve posted are great” but ummmm, i’ve never posted any videos or vlogged before. hmmmm….

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