Fashion website Couturing has claimed its bloggers were “banned” from using Lenovo tablets at Melbourne Fashion Festival yesterday because Samsung is a sponsor. The Festival disputes the claims.
Jess and Stef Dadon
The fashion website has been using the tablet devices as part of an activation which followed bloggers attending the festival, an activation supported by tech brand Lenovo, which was not a sponsor of the event. The Festival is sponsored by Samsung.
Mumbrella understands the dispute broke out yesterday when bloggers Jess and Stef Dadon of How Two Live attended the National Graduate Showcase for the activation.
The duo are ambassadors for the showcase, which they were also covering on behalf of Couturing. As ambassadors Mumbrella understands that organisers offered the pair Samsung devices and asked not to be filmed using a rival tablet in footage for the website.
Lisa Teh, editor-in-chief of Couturing.com, told Mumbrella: “We have been more than transparent with the festival organisers to work with them on this activation. We have had numerous meetings to make sure that we were working together.
“The PR knew we were coming last night to film and with whom and we actually had various verbal and email correspondence with them about the activation on Wednesday this week, and the issue of us not being able to film the girls with the Tablet last night was not brought up once,” said Teh.
“Seeing that they waited to tell us when we had shot half the segment, and turn our film crew away prior to the runway was extremely disappointing.”
Couturing.com then tweeted they had been “banned” from using the device, with the tweet since being retweeted more than 200 times.
A major challenge for sponsored events is to avoid guerilla marketing stunts where rival brands try to muscle in without paying the organisers.
A statement from VAMFF denied bloggers or media had been banned and reports of particular products being banned were also untrue:
“The Festival can confirm that no accredited bloggers or media have been banned or had their accreditation revoked from attending the events and reporting on the shows.
“Reports of particular products being banned from use at the event are incorrect.
“The Festival has always been known for supporting the blogger community and growth of online with a focussed digital strategy.”
Mumbrella understands VAMFF had concerns with Couturing.com’s coverage of the event, due to a belief the editorial on the site was using guerrilla marketing techniques to insert Lenovo’s brand into the Samsung sponsored event.
“We can’t assume that this wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t ambassadors. They tried to block us yesterday on misunderstood T&C’s (which we had our lawyer review, who claimed we were not in breach). Yesterday was just their newest tactic to have this activation blocked,” said Teh in an email to Mumbrella.
Couturing.com have argued the “ban” was a a result of their campaign being more “successful than Samsung’s campaign”.
“Our campaign supported by Lenovo has been more successful than Samsung’s campaign that’s why Samsung has had issues. Samsung originally promoted the #VAMFF hashtag a few days earlier in the week then stopped when our social media noise eclipsed theirs,” said Teh.
“From our reports, branded mentions of Lenovo on the #VAMFF hashtag were 5.3x the amount of Samsung. We can definitely understand why we’ve received so much push-back, our stories are making too much noise.”
Emma Lo Russo, CEO of Digivizer, Lenovo ANZ’s social web analytics company, told Mumbrella in a statement: “This may be a world first where a single technology brand, the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2, has been called out and banned from an event for being too successful. No other brand was similarly maltreated.
“It seems a shame that the great work done by Couturing and its team of bloggers in shining a light on what’s wonderful in Australian fashion should now be at the centre of a storm in a social tea cup. Let’s not forget that individuals choose their media sources, their brands and their content. Anyone thinking otherwise is surely misguided.”
Couturing.com had been filming bloggers attending the festival and editing the content overnight before posting it online the next morning.
“At the end of the day, we are all here to do the same thing, promote the designers. It’s just a shame that they stopped us from doing that last night when we are one of the site’s which has given the festival the most coverage and our activation was creating much needed buzz and hype for festival,” said Teh.