All That, and a Bag of Chips

This is a “full disclosure” post of sorts. Today’s NY Times ran a piece about bloggers being influenced by Sponsors. I have no sponsors, but I felt it important to be more clear about an experience I had recently. (I’ve also added a disclosure page here and at – I used the template at DisclosurePolicy.Org to do so – quite useful.)

Recently, I visited the Pepsi campuses in Valhalla and Purchase, NY. As I blogged about Pepsi Innovation Day, I was a guest of Bonin Bough, invited by Stephanie Agresta. I know Bonin via work I had done for his former employer, Weber Shandwick, in the past. Stephanie has consulted with me under the Harbrooke Group banner, and I’ve worked for her firm as well (she’s now working at PR Firm Porter Novelli, and I’ve been asked to do work for her there of a confidential nature). I respect both of them as marketing professionals who understand the value of relationships in business.

During the day the group received access to Pepsi executives, received lunch, access to more chips and soda than any human should be allowed, and a chance to, among other things, make our ‘own soda.’  Upon leaving, we were given gift bags that had chips in them from other countries, soda, a small flash drive from Gatorade, and some schwag with the Pepsi logo (a hat and scarf). Maybe $25 worth of stuff. The chips were fun – I did taste tests with my kids to see if they could identify flavors of chips from places like England, Argentina and Japan.
Bottom line, I wanted to disclose this experience from Pepsi. They’ve put up YouTube Videos of the event, and I appear in them, so it is fair to mention this on the blog.

I do believe this visit was useful because it showed me a company the size of Pepsi is interested in hearing from Social Media practitioners face to face. I don’t think they were buying us – quite the opposite – it was a costly day for me in terms of time away from clients. But it was positive in that I got a chance to meet some other blogger/influencer types and get to know them better. I also got a chance to meet Pepsi staff and hear some of their marketing challenges – a great learning experience for me.

I won’t let this experience significantly influence my work. I’m not here shouting that you should buy Pepsi instead of Coke. I strive to maintain my independence as a blogger. I don’t take anything of significant monetary value from anyone for my writing or my various blogs (including my blog). If you happen to think I’m fronting for someone, feel free to let me know.