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A Look At Free Reviewer Swag 144

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the something-to-think-about dept.
chicl3t writes "It used to be that the lagniappes that came along with hardware for review were things like USB drives — makes sense, one 128MB drive for a 100MB presentation. But...iPod nanos? As in more than one? That's another story entirely. It's damn nice swag, of course, but at what point is it too much? A DailyTech writer talks about his experiences with swag."
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A Look At Free Reviewer Swag

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  • Re:Great News! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by networkBoy (774728) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @10:10AM (#21148265) Homepage Journal
    I think your sig said it ;)

    When I was more active in the Xbox scene I would receive hardware (modchips) to review. Never sent any of them back, but usually that's because they didn't work so well when I was done with them. Only had one vendor ask for it back, specifically to do Failure Analysis. They asked if I wanted a replacement and I turned them down. To be fair though I first tested the things as a normal user would use them, then as an extreme modder may use them, then as an idiot would use them (plugged in backwards). That usually did them in (though one did my box in instead...). I suppose plugging in an SLI PCIe backwards would be difficult.

    -nB
  • by John Hasler (414242) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @10:22AM (#21148313) Homepage
    > It's damn nice swag, of course, but at what point is it too much? A DailyTech writer
    > talks about his experiences with swag.

    If you are a reviewer nothing is too much. If you are a consumer anything at all is a bribe.
  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @10:48AM (#21148469) Homepage

    On another note, isn't this comparable to the free gifts that pharmacutical companies give doctors on their conferences.

    Yes. It is. One of the interesting things coming out of some recent research [annals.org] is that even cheap trinkets (pens with blinky lights, post-it notes, etc.) subtly influence prescribing behavior. The drug companies know it. They've studied it extensively and will continue to do this sort of advertising as long as humanely possible. Unfortunately, as a species, we're pretty easy to influence, even if we think we know better and are above it all.

    (Goes back to reading Slashdot).

  • by AikonMGB (1013995) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @10:58AM (#21148529) Homepage

    English is my first language and I consider myself to be relatively well-spoken; I still didn't know what a lagniappe was.

    Aikon-

  • by tshetter (854143) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @01:05PM (#21149347)
    Those little trinkets arent half of it, not even close.

    My mother works in a semi-small doctors office. They have 4 docs one is cardio the other neuro, and two might be a more general practitioner doc. Dont know the specifics. About 12 more support staff as well.

    They have Pharm Reps (Drug Reps) they came in atleast twice per week. They give little presentations on new drugs, but also new tools, devices.

    Every time they come, they dont bring just pens, note pads and posters.

    No, no no....

    They cater lunch for the whole office...at an extreme level. The pick up enough food for 75 people!

    Luches from Carrabbas, Smokey Bones, Texas Cattle Company, etc.

    Then all the staff eat lunch like kings, and then bring home enough for dinner that night plus leftovers.

    So, dont think its just $10 worth of office supplies, or some thing. its $1000+ Every day for every Rep.

    Yea, Ill eat their food all day. But it makes me wonder how many billions get spent on PR, ads, and Reps. How much could have gone into progams for uninsured?
  • by Cathoderoytube (1088737) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @01:10PM (#21149373)
    The idea is game sales correlate directly to game reviews. It's in the companies best interests to bribe the hell out of the reviewers. The best example of this was with the PC Gamer review of Doom 3. They got a lot of negative feedback from their review of the game, so they felt it necessary in the next issue to print an article defending why they gave Doom 3 such a great review. They said things like 'People expect games these days to be able to cure cancer while riding a unicycle wearing high heels and juggling'. So that's their justification for giving Doom 3 a good review? Because people expect too much out of games? I think it had largely to do with the sales of Doom 3 and the numerous full page ads id software took out in the magazine. In my opinion games journalism is probably the most dishonest and cooked form of journalism there is. Mind you, taking shameless bribes goes with a lot of other reviewing jobs.
  • by gamer4Life (803857) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @01:34PM (#21149547)
    I think that's a bigger form of swag - actual money, disguised as an indirect business deal.

    I'll bet the people in charge of certain magazines or blogs have enormous incentive to put the products of their sponsor companies in a positive light - or at least in a non-negative light.

    At the same time you have to wonder if they'll spin the product of a competitor to their sponsor's product in a negative light.

    For instance, I remember back in the day, Microsoft products would get reviewed much more favourably than WordPerfect or Lotus 1-2-3 or any other competitor based on subjective criteria such as "ease-of-use". Of course, Microsoft was the heaviest advertiser in magazines such as PC Magazine, and you wonder if their executives talked and made an agreement of money for good reviews.

    At CNet, many of their reviewers have written books about Microsoft products, gathering information from people close to Microsoft - how they can maintain an unbiased opinion on any review with a Microsoft gadget is beyond me.

    There are many blogs where the PS3 gets bashed over anything, from calling it a George Foreman grill, to bashing Sony's "evilness", to it's lack of backwards compatibility to it's price. However, the XBox 360, a product by Microsoft, doesn't get bashed nearly as much over it's failure rate, Microsoft's "evilness", overcharging for non-standard components and online play, it's non-backwards compatibility, and so on... - not surprisingly, Microsoft does a lot more advertising on these sites than Sony.

    My point is, bribes go much further in the tech review/news industry than swag...
  • by Original Replica (908688) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @02:17PM (#21149893) Journal
    I read an article some time ago by a doctor discussing the fully sponsored "educational conferences" that drug companies have at tropical resorts. He had for a long time refused to even attend one of these free vacations, on ethical grounds. Eventually one of his colleagues convinced him to go on one. There were two or three, one hour information sessions that did in fact give the doctor a thorough understanding of this new wonder drug. The rest of the week he enjoyed the tropics with his wife. When he returned he was sendt a large number of samples of the drug. Even though he was fully aware of how he had been influenced and was ideologically against the bribery aspects of the junket, he found himself handing out samples and writing prescriptions for the new drug, because he had samples to give and knowledge about the drug. The doctor readily admits that he never would have written those prescriptions if he had not gone on the junket. Sorry but I cannot find the link to the original article.

    But to illustrate how bad the advert/bribery has gotten in medicine:

    >The drug companies spend about a third of their revenues on marketing ("selling and administration"). About $8,000 to $12,000 yearly is spent on marketing toward each individual doc per year total. There is one drug rep for every 4.7 office-based physicians. Residents are obviously more prone to influence: "residents in a psychiatry program in Toronto Attended up to 70 lunches that had been sponsored by drug companies and received 75 promotional items over the course of one year," notes David Blumenthal, MD, MPP in a special policy report in the New England Journal of Medicine. (351;18, 1887, 10/28/04).
    http://doctormental.blogspot.com/2004/11/doctors-and-drug-companies.html [blogspot.com]
  • Like this is new??? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @02:54PM (#21150241) Homepage
    I remember a compiler comparison in Info world. The text of the review did not match the score card. I spoke with the author and found out that the scorecard he submitted was different from what was published. The scores apparently were based on the amount of advertising purchased by the compiler vendor. While doing some writing for the DPMA and BCS, I got a little swag (along the lines of free software). I did attend a few presentations with nice meals for the press.

    It didn't effect my reviews or commentary. I still slammed the companies I got freebies from.
  • by NIckGorton (974753) on Sunday October 28, 2007 @04:05PM (#21150869)
    Um... fuck research. They wouldn't spend it if it didn't work. So I refuse entirely to take any swag except for samples. I feel like the samples is a deal with the devil, but if I can circumvent the intent of the drug rep some, its not so bad(E.G. give all the advair diskus inhalers to supply my single patient without insurance and with severe asthma rather than the 'free starter' for multiple people that leads to further rxs for the drug companies.)

    Its still a big risk... now I know how much easier it is to get an asthmatic to take advair than cheaper albuterol plus QVAR. So I am probably more likely to rx in the future because of that knowledge. But that is a moral choice I pay for my patient.

    Other than that, I don't eat a cookie, take a plastic pancreas, or write with a Viagra pen. I don't even like to look at the time on a Tequin clock.
    Nick

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