Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Blogher 2010: The Low Point

I have several posts inside of me about the BlogHer Conference, which in case you don't know, was a big shindig of bloggin' ladies that took place in New York City this past weekend. It was a really great time, so it's odd that I'm starting off by telling you about the low point, where I looked into the abyss of my soul and found tuna staring back at me.

To contextualize this, it's good to know that the conference could be called SwagHer. I didn't really understand the scale of the freebie giveaway situation. I guess I had heard vague tales last year of somebody elbowing a baby in the face to get at a table of free Crocs. She became known as the Croctomom, I believe. As time goes by her infamy grows.

Anyway, I knew there was some kind of marketing "gifting" element to the proceedings, but I had no idea it was such a big deal. There was a big expo area where marketers set up booths and did their thing, trade-show style, making their pitch and giving out goodies, but then there were also these private gifting suite things, a couple of which I visited, a few of which I only heard about, and many more that were super top secret and held in undisclosed locations. I never even got wind of those until after the fact. It all adds up to mountains of swag. And this is not to mention the free stuff the hotel staff put in our rooms when we were out. One day it was a Mr. Potato Head, rock! Hank has loved on that potato head like nine ways since I've been home.

I also got jeggings. JEGG-INGS, people.

They are sort of like pants.

Anyway, none of this was the low point. In fact, the jeggings were one of the higher points, because they inspired me to shout, "JEGGINGS!" anytime the spirit moved me, spontaneously, while strolling the boulevards. I said "JEGGINGS!" kind of a lot, truth be told, much to Keely's chagrin. She does not approve of JEGGINGS! as a word while I maintain that the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary are busy readying its entry into the lexicon.

I can't show you a picture of the JEGGINGS! because I can't put them on until winter. They are like being swallowed by a superheated denim boa constrictor.

No, the low point grew out of the phenomenon described so well by Gretchen today:

If you attend the BlogHer Conference, you will get a big buttload of free shit. Some of it is good shit. Some of it is just shit. But when you're faced with a situation where strangers are handing you massive quantities of free shit, a strange phenomenon occurs. You WANT it. ALL of it. MORE of it. You want those Assets cheap Spanx. You WANT those Zhu-Zhu Pets.
Actually I did want those cheap Spanx and battery-operated hamsters. They were great. But you know how when you're a kid and you're trick-or-treating, you reach a point where you know there is plenty of candy in your plastic pumpkin, and you know you will never even eat it all, but there's that last house on the street just sitting there with its porchlight on, and you just can't stop yourself from hobbling up to the door in your homemade Princess Leia costume and ringing the bell. Because you know that if you ring the bell, they will open the door and give you candy, and you just can't leave that candy there in that house when it could be in your plastic pumpkin.

That's what the BlogHer swag is like.

You just can't leave it there, at first. Because some of it is great. And then you know how when you actually do eat a lot of candy and then you feel a tiny bit disgusted with yourself?

That moment came too.

For me it was in one of the expo spaces, at a booth for purveyor of canned fish. Let's say that the company is called the Pork of the Orchard. Most of the booths involved a little chat, listening to a little sales pitch, and handing over a business card in exchange for some free stuff. The Pork of the Orchard had some whole multi-stage process dreamed up, wherein I fended off a dude who wanted to interview me? Video me? I wasn't sure. Then I handed over my card, then I had to answer a trivia question about the history of the Pork of the Orchard's advertising campaigns, then I spun the prize wheel. By then I already hated myself completely. Then I was given this:

The measuring cup, not the penny. It was so underwhelming that it was like a bracing splash of cold water in the face. I was like, "Oh good grief, what are we doing? The shame! The humanity!"

It holds just one half cup. If you were making, say, a pound cake, you could get a repetitive motion stress injury.

We all had the same reaction. Jenni said, "We are nothing but swag whores. Cheap ones!" And we all felt that we had gone too far somehow. We were chastened, we instantly dubbed it The Low Point, and our tide had turned. We went from naive to jaded to penitent inside five minutes.

The funny part is, what was I hoping to get at the Pork of the Orchard booth? Did I need to have a meaningful interaction with this company, or any interaction at all? Not really. So what was I doing standing there? My plastic pumpkin was already full.

Of course that did not stop me, the next day, from chasing down a lady for some Weebles.

More to come, dolls.


Michele said...

I too have learned the swag lesson the hard way. It's not pretty. But, once learned you will not make the same mistake twice. What I learned after 1 or possibly 2 library conferences; never take every book you are offered because the airlines will charge you a boatload of cash to get that crappy bibliography of fish entrails home. Which you will promptly throw away because it is crap.

Jenni said...

Oh, god, I'm filled with shame at the memory. And it wasn't even a full cup measuring up. It was half a stinking cup!

I think I have to shower now.

Ash said...

I can't even fathom the amount of junk mail you all are about to receive. Hope cheapo Pork of the Orchard at least sends you some good coupons.

Wait, did you say Weebles? Are they bringing Weebles back?!

Kelly said...

So glad you're back!! Can't wait to hear about the rest =)

Jane said...

So, thanks to you, I just found out what jeggings are. I kinda want some.

It sounds like you had a great time!

Jenni said...

Oh, and PS, don't listen to Becky. She looks dayum hot in those jeggings.

Sara said...

No way on earth will I ever ever be able to pull off a Jegging. And I'm ok with that.

The measuring cup is definitely a disappointment, but I love the life lesson you have illustrated through it. The photo of it next to the penny for scale really nailed it home, too. lmao!
Like getting granny mints or those tiny dumdum lollies for Halloween.

Keely said...

It was a whole BOX of Weebles, mind. Let us not mention the post-it notes I got after answering THREE questions regarding tuna. I took them to work, where I feel shame every day anyway.

"superheated denim boa constrictor" just about made me pee myself. BlogHer has clearly inspired you :)

Beth said...

I bought a pair of jeggings last year, and I've only worn them about 3 times. I kind of look like a sausage in them. If my tunic is long enough and my Uggs high enough, I can barely pull it off.

I almost did a spit take on the pound cake bit. Awesome.

Now look what you've done: I want swag! I can't wait to go to BlogHer next year to learn life lessons about greed. And maybe get some a 1/2 cup measure.

gretchen said...

I can't believe you quoted me. I'm so flattered! Damn you are funny. That's all I have to say. And...I still want me some Jeggings.

Amy said...

So, so funny. Swag fever is a powerful force. I love that they made so HARD to get that measuring cup, too! Spinning a wheel?? Awesome.

Jeggings are big here. Haven't tried them though, because unlike you I didn't get the leeeegggs in the family. ;)

Casey said...

I hadn't heard of your swaggy low point until now but I'm almost ashamed to know you. Ok, I'm lying. My huge box of swag was delivered today and my kids have been fighting over the toys all afternoon.

Glad we got to hang....

Elizabeth said...

My shoulders are shaking reading this post. Weebles? Those things that wobble and don't fall down? Damn -- I think my kids are too old for them.

Carrie said...

I'm proud to say that I turned down the opportunity to spin the wheel, but I am less proud to say that I actually tried to sign up to be interviewed and was turned away. Because they said they might show the interview on Lifetime, and also because I figure any practice being on camera is good practice for when I get an opportunity to go on tv and pimp the hell out of myself.

The Stiletto Mom said...

Dude, I had so much swag I had to ship it back in TWO BOXES. Got it home, looked at it, realized I was a total swag whore and threw half of it away. I didn't, however, receive a nifty Chicken of the Sea measuring cup...I knew I should have gone this year!

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Wow. It sounds like an estate sale where people trample each other to put a red sold sign on something. ; )

But hey, the best things in life are free-ish. You did the right thing, Beck, going for whatever was behind curtain #3.

And thanks for including the penny -- it adds so much context.

Jenny, the Bloggess said...

Last year I had so much swag it was embarrassing. This year I came home with about 5 things. Didn't even pick up the blogher swag bag. It's like that one time when you eat too much pizza and you throw up and then you can't eat pizza again. That's how swag is for me. It's also why for the first time ever we gave away no swag at the People's Party. And you know what? No one cared. Yeehaw.

Also, my word captcha is "explo". Seems fitting for this post.