Tumblr Wants Fashion Brands to Pay for Blogger Coverage of New York Fashion Week

Fashion industry marketers are up in arms over Tumblr's sponsorship proposals to brands for product placement and branded content on Tumblr blogs for the upcoming New York Fashion Week. These plans would also violate federal rules about disclosure for paid content.

For the second season in a row, Tumblr is sending fashion bloggers who use its platform to cover NYFW [ see our story ]. Tumblr is asking major brands to spend $10K+ for private events with bloggers, $100K+ for "partnered content" -- four bloggers would produce a minimum of 15 posts each for the brand -- and at a price to be determined for product placement on each of the 20 blogs [ see proposals further down ].

Additionally, sponsorships on Tumblr's official NYFW page tumblr.com/tagged/fashion are priced at $150K and $350K for the week. With the 1M impressions Tumblr is claiming, that's a CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) of nearly $70, far more expensive than advertising on the front page of the New York Times website or buying a premium package from Conde Nast, as Mashable reported.

Tumblr is still searching for a business model -- right now the company only sells premium themes for its blogs. But overcharging an influential segment of your audience isn't the answer.

Another issue: Tumblr has no formal contracts with any of the bloggers and they did not know Tumblr was promising their services according to a Betabeat report. LAUNCH has reached out to some of the fashion bloggers attending NYFW for comment and will update with any response.

In addition, Tumblr could be violating Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules regarding paid blogging if the company does not fully disclose that it is charging brands for product placement.  

LAUNCH has asked Tumblr for comment but has not received a response.

Complaints regarding Tumblr's sponsorship proposal started, as Betabeat first reported, with a Tumblr post from Jessica Coghan, director of digital media at fashion PR house Starworks, which represents Ann Taylor, Lacoste and Kate Spade.

"I have also had the pleasure of seeing their sponsorship proposal being shopped around to brands, which I am not supposed to be talking about," Jessica writes. "I will say this… someone is completely out of their goddamn mind."

She continues to write that Tumblr is in desperate need of an analytics dashboard.
"We are all om here managing blogs with the help of Google Analytics, but there is nothing catering to the tumblr only based metrics-reblogs, likes, followers, etc.," Jessica writes. "There is nothing out there to help brands quantify their presence here...A 'reblog' is a powerful tool and there is nothing out there to measure its power. Such a shame."

One fashion designer had less than kind comments about Tumblr Fashion Director Richard Tong, who co-founded two fashion startups before heading to Tumblr in January.

"He is David Karp's [Tumblr founder and CEO] friend and that seems to be his main qualification for this job," the designer told Betabeat. "Now they are trying to have us pay for Tumblr bloggers to come to our shows, which is ridiculous. We would never pay a journalist to come cover us, so why would we pay Tumblr?"

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