The Swag Report

Those loyal readers who can boast personal acquaintance with raincoaster know that if there’s one thing I’m all about, besides Squid, it’s Swag.

I swear, I only worked at Starbucks for seven years because they kept giving me t-shirts! Sometimes I lie awake at night, thinking about all the t-shirts I’ve missed in the last decade…I mean, blogging for a living is all very well, but The Manolo is not handing out the Giuseppi Zanottis right and left, however much we might hope and pray, and so we, the humble blogslaves, take what we can get.

Which, apparently, includes a Zune.

Well, haven’t I said repeatedly that I’d never pay Microsoft another dime of my money? Yes. Yes, I have. And I’m not, but I AM getting their stuff for free which, after the hell they put me through with Windows ME, is only right and just.

Here’s what I got in an email last week:

Hi What’s up?

I stumbled upon your site today and thought you would be great for a promotion that I’m working on for Matchstick, a word of mouth marketing company.

Basically what Matchstick does is put products in the hands of people that are most apt to talk about them, especially online.

The item in question for our current campaign is an high profile mp3 player that has just launched in Canada. You can take the screening survey here,, and pass it on if you have other friends in the blog community, specifically in Canada (we are based out of Toronto).

If you qualify, you will be receiving the device,


Jesse Ship

FYI BC bloggers: it’s a Zune. And they want to give it to you for free, provided you tell everyone on god’s green Earth that they did. And you know me: I can’t keep 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 I’m willing to live with.

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.

It looks like Rebecca isn’t nearly as used to asking for special exceptions as I am. I totally don’t qualify for this one, but I simply said, “I’m too old for this promotion, but my demographic is not, they are perfect for it” and POOF, I was in.

Story of my life, really. I’m not what you’re looking for, but I can connect you with them, so put out for me.

Step Two was not so cool; in fact, I’m not cool with it at all.

UPDATE: see comments on this post for the company’s response.

I was told I’d be contacted by a separate company which tracks conversations about products and I’d just need to tell them who I talked to and what I said and then they could track that buzz across the buzziverse, which sounded like an impossible proposition but whatever, not my business model, is it? So I dutifully signed in to tell them about the people I’d forwarded the notice to and saw my first problem:

There is no log out button that I can see. Ev-ar.

As a part-time security blogger, this does not take me to my happy place and I felt no compunction whatsoever rooting around until I found the right code. For the record, the sign out is

Not only that, but when I said I’d talked to Bob and Ted and Carol and Alice the next screen demanded the email addresses for all of those people, so the company could contact them and track THOSE conversations. Now, last I recall signing people up for a mailing list without their permission is a violation of the Criminal Code of Canada’s anti-stalker provisions. And this does not take me to my happy place, so I left that blank.

I’m fully aware this throws not just a monkeywrench but an entire gorillawrench into their business model, but that is really not my problem, is it? Maybe this will get me bounced from the program and maybe it won’t, but I’m not giving out the contact deets for people. If that’s what they want, I’ll confine the conversation to my blog, where (thanks to I don’t have access to the IPs of my readers in the first place.

So: the swag report is, maybe I’m in, maybe I’m out. But now you’re both equipped to apply and forewarned. Bookmark that signout link!


14 thoughts on “The Swag Report

  1. Interesting to read about your experience with Matchstick. They actually contacted me on Friday about the Zune as well and I politely asked them not to email me during my “period of disqualification” – that’s just cruel :-P.

    I received an apologetic phone call a few minutes later.

    I don’t think they’re *trying* to do things the wrong way, I mean approaching bloggers with swag so they can do promotion is awesome. I just think they haven’t worked out their process yet and it’s just too bad they’re turning so many people off along the way.

  2. Agreed 100%. But after your post they really should have tuned up their record-keeping. I mean, all it takes is a good database, right?

    Now the Chatthreads thing worries me. I shall keep a beady eye on them. Don’t mind sharing what I’ve done and said, but I will not go ratting out my friends to anybody, much less signing them up to be contacted.

  3. Hi raincoaster,

    This is Walter Carl, Founder and Chief Research Officer at ChatThreads. I noticed your comments about ChatThreads and wanted to respond as you raised important concerns.

    First, to make it easier to sign out of our site we will add a logout button. This should be taken care of today.

    Second, one of our goals is to understand how word of mouth travels from person to person across a variety of channels, like face-to-face, over the phone, on blogs, etc. Because not all of these leave a “digital trail” we invite people to tell us about the conversations they have and invite the people with whom they talk to do the same. There are a number of ways to invite the people you talk with (your conversational partners) — the most frequent are via e-mail through our site, through sending an email with a special link from your own e-mail account, by passing along a “conversation card” (that includes a URL and special code).

    Please note that if you choose to provide an email address of one of your conversational partners through our site we only send them a one-time e-mail invitation. We do not add them to a mailing list and we do not share their e-mail address with third parties unless that person gives us permission to do so. If you think there is a way we can make this more clear on our site I would love to hear about it.

    Privacy and trust are important to us, especially since we rely on people providing us with information about the conversations they have.

    Thanks again for your comments as it helps us improve our service. If you would like to continue this discussion I’ll look out for comments here. But also please feel free to contact me directly via email as well.



  4. Of course, if they were arming spambots with e-mail addresses, you could just enter “Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada” or some other such ridiculous made-up name, with some fictional address such as

  5. Thanks, Walter. Your clarifications help a great deal; terms of service and user agreements are all very well, but they’re hard to wade through, and this post helps me understand how Chatthreads works. As does your focus on providing answers and evolving the product. That does indeed make me feel a lot better about the whole process, especially the logout button.

    As does Metro’s suggestion.

  6. Pingback: Expensive Qeen « Archies Archive

  7. My pleasure! As I mentioned before please feel free to contact me if you have additional feedback or any questions.



  8. too old for a promotion? how old does one have to be to not enjoy being able to listen to music? that whole age thing is ludicrous. yes, kids buy them, but my 16 gig (now 24 with added memory) sansa says that middle aged women like them too. i’ve seen people of all ages with mp3 players including senior citizens doing their “let’s not get another heart attack” walks.

  9. Well then, apply! I dunno how they’re doing on the Prairies, but they gave me the impression that outside of Toronto they needed all the help they could get.

  10. Well, I got a call today from a lovely guy at matchsticks who further screened me…and my Zune is on its merry way. So, RC is right, don’t worry too much about the age thing — like I pointed out, my friends range in age from 21 to 62, so yeah, age is an indicator, but not that crucial (I’m 40). Being in Canada is the key on this one.

    And I’m heartened to see the rather rapid response by Walter of Chatthreads…here’s an organization that is paying attention to their ’employees’. (Really, what on earth do you call someone who is volunteering to do the work that your organization gets paid to do?)

    Anyway, rain, I’ll link to this post when I blog on this today, ’cause you’ve covered a lot of the bases/concerns.

  11. Yes, I noticed the logout button is already in place and they’ve changed the wording to clarify how they contact the people whose email addresses you give out. That’s very good to see. I’m impressed with them.

  12. This is really interesting.
    I just recently got solicited by Matchstick as well….but this is the first time I’ve read about their past campaigns and other people’s experiences with them.

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