Monday, August 09, 2010

BlogHer part 2

BlogHer part 1

Friday, the first official day of the conference, began with breakfast. Perhaps I wasn't the only attendee to complain about the quality of the food in '09, because the BlogHer organizers and the New York Hilton delivered deliciousness at every meal. I piled my plate high with oatmeal, fresh fruit and a muffin and went back to the coffee urns again and again. Because breakfast was sponsored by Tropicana, I also tried their Trop 50 Pomegranate Blueberry juice. Thumbs up on taste and no artificial sweeteners.

Then I hit the Writing Inspiration: Stoke Your Creativity panel expecting to hear about ways to get around blogger's block and fire up my posts from the lazy "here's what we did" to something more interesting and insightful. Instead, the discussion seemed more geared toward fiction and poetry writers and included the well-trod territory of "going for a walk" and "setting aside time to write." I did take a few notes on blog editing, something I do far too little of. If I was to follow those directions after writing this post, I would read this out loud, cut the first and last paragraph and delete all uses of the passive voice.

I ate lunch and exchanged cards with some new-to-me bloggers and headed into the two expo halls to check out the sponsor exhibits and see if it was as icky and over-the-top as last year's swag-fest.

Now it was big. Some of the pavilions, like those for Jimmy Dean/Hillshire Farms and P&G were even more elaborate than last year's. P&G, for example, had a Home Away From Home with separate rooms for health and beauty, laundry, their charitable missions and more. I got my makeup "done" in the beauty studio and they snapped a headshot for me which I liked enough to use here on my blog.
Exterior of the P&G exhibit

Although I threw my business card in a few bowls (hey, who wouldn't want to win a Tempur-Pedic bed?), I skipped most of the exhibitors. I don't use diapers or baby bottles anymore, I'm not in the market for a new car and we never eat frozen dinners. Oh, and the frozen breakfast items from Jimmy Dean? They looked like delicious corn dogs, but they were really gag-worthy sausages wrapped in pancakes. On a stick. Not that I tried them. But I know someone who spat them right back out in front of the sampling staff.
People were eating this. In the middle of the day!

I did pick up some cool stuff, though: a to-go container for cereal and milk from the "Got Milk" people, an Assets (Spanx for less) body shaper, Biotrue contact solution (in a TSA-approved size), a giant White House | Black Market tote and an original Todd Parr drawing of my children courtesy of Stouffer's. I also got pictures of myself with Dora the Explorer and Marmaduke the dog. I snapped the former on my cell phone and sent it off to Josh in the hopes of blowing the girls' minds.

I think the BlogHer organizers were right to place the Expo halls far from the conference sessions. Unlike last year, when a Strawberry Shortcake doll was placed on every chair in one session, swag and sponsor signage were largely absent from the panels. And while some will bemoan the crass commercialism of all of the sponsor involvement, I appreciate them. They keep the conference fees incredibly low--far lower than most business conferences. It also makes sense from a marketing perspective. I mean, how often can a giant corporation step off the supermarket shelves and "come alive" to make a one-to-one connection with a consumer?And not any consumer, a highly connected, highly influential, permanently Googleable consumer.

We also can't forget that, despite all the squealing women, parties and generally summer camp-like atmosphere, BlogHer is a business. They make money by selling ads through their ad network and sponsorships to their conferences.