Monday, October 13, 2014

Checking the mailbag: Hanes, their way

Sometimes it seems people have a bit too much time on their hands:

Back in July of 2010 I wrote a post where with my usual light-hearted tone I took to rhetorical task the "lay-flat collar" on Hanes t-shirts, noting grammatically it should be "lie-flat" but I conceded how that didn't play as well from a marketing standpoint. I don't recall that getting any more significant response than any other post.

Then a couple weeks ago I received an email from someone identifying himself as "Ryan" and as a "partner with Hanes." He complimented the content in a single sentence that gave no specifics about what was good—"Great piece of content, by the way!" (Yep, with an exclamation point and everything.).

Then he got to the reason he wrote. He asked if I could add a link to the official Hanes website (and included the hyperlink to to help my readers access their site. He followed that with some sentences conceding he knew some editors might have issue with that, so it was offered as a request and not a demand.

I hate to burst the bubble of this Ryan by revealing he likely was the first visitor to that post in four years, and whether I threw a link to Hanes or not wouldn't be directing any more traffic to their site. It's not that I, as an editor, have qualms about linking to corporate sites. I have done that before. However, modifying a four-year-old post seems rather pointless, especially when it was at least somewhat critical of the company's branding (which causes me to question how closely this Ryan actually read it).

Had he said the company would be willing to send me a coupon for a free pack of t-shirts or something to sweeten the deal that might make a difference. Having never made a cent off the blahg I wouldn't have qualms about "selling out" if I was getting a tiny bit of compensation for being a tiny bit of a corporate shill. I do have at least some integrity here, but if you're asking me to do something that is of benefit to your company you could offer some modest enticement without insulting me, but I suspect that was not done out of concern it would. (I do wear t-shirts so it wouldn't go to waste.) I'm not fishing for that—as already noted, I'm not going to do it, simply out of it not being worth anyone's time (also, I believe my readers are smart enough to use the internet to find an obviously-named corporate website if they are so inclined)—but it seemed like what I may have expected in such a plea.

What intrigues me, assuming this email was sincere and was part of some media consultancy being hired by Hanes to help promote themselves online, is that they would bother getting out to my Podunk neighborhood on the internet. I suppose I should be moderately flattered they bothered with my site at all, but mostly I am fascinated that anyone has the time to be scraping that deeply on the web, and if the company may be that desperate I suppose I see why they wouldn't be in a position to give away a few t-shirts.

And with that I guarantee no representative of any company will ever contact me again.

Maybe I should have just hinted I would have been okay with boxer shorts.

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