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Publish365 018: Your Integrity Or Their Brand?

DeWalt is not the company mentioned. Just sayin.

The maker community is a very positive one, in general, and for the most part avoids controversy and other uncomfortable things. Sure they dabble in social and political issues, but even then the engagement is largely positive and driven by a desire to good rather than to scold and chastise those they perceive as doing bad. Makers of all stripes, from the large number I have met and had interactions with mostly just want to deal with, hang out with, and collaborate with good, honest, and respectful people, and luckily for us there are an abundance of them in our space.

Some folks, however, are not so honest, and they slide their dishonesty past you like Mario Lemieux sliding a puck in open ice while breaking away on a goalie.

One of the shadiest and most uncomfortable areas of the community I'm so proud to be a member of is sponsorship. I'm not talking about ads running during YouTube videos or podcasts, or anything that's clearly delineated as such. I'm talking about the sneaky ads and sponsorships. The ones that are casually mentioned once when they begin and never again. The ones that involve the maker decking out their entire workshop in a single brand and telling you how great the company is and how they'd never own anything else right up until the sponsorship ends and they move on to the next brand like they never liked the first one. Not only that, but the first one will be forgotten completely and never mentioned again, while the new one instantly becomes the greatest thing ever and you're basically shamed into wondering how you could ever use the old one. It's a long con, but it is, in fact, a con.

One very popular maker used to talk about a particular brand all the time. She got to the point where she was, at the very least, a shill. The tool label was always visible in every shot to where you could see them clearly, usually in slow mo for dramatic effect and prolonged exposure to the badge on the tool. It wasn't just a circular saw, it was her "BLAHBLAH Circular Saw." And she wasn't the only one doing it; there were a few notable makers using this minor brand of tool and raving about it like it was the greatest thing ever, but then a strange thing happened: like clockwork all the people shilling for this company switched to other brands, and nearly all at once. And, to make things even more obvious, they didn't switch to the same brands, meaning they didn't necessarily want a better something, they just wanted a something that they weren't being paid to use.

I'm seeing it lately with another company, and it feels icky to see. There's a brand of tool that was in more videos than I could count. Again, like clockwork, you would get a slew of videos from this one company near the very end of every quarter. At the end of September, December, March, and June my feed would be lit with people using this one thing to make things. This year? I'm not sure what happened but it's pretty obvious that some of those people got cut from the program and the money dried up because all of them moved on from their free equipment to something a lot less free (for some of them).

I don't hold any grudges against people for taking money from a sponsor. That would be a level of hypocrisy I couldn't handle. I have sponsors on my podcast and have since nearly the beginning. I don't even object to stealth placement of tools. Hell if you can get a free tool then go for yours. But if you're going to accept free stuff, spend a year or two telling us how it's the best thing ever, then immediately change brands when the money dries up, understand that it's your integrity that takes a hit, and not because you're taking money, but because when you tell us it's the best thing since sliced bread and then you don't use it when you're not being paid to, we can all see that you're full of crap.

Sponsors are fine, but they come and go. You only get one integrity credit and you lose it when you behave like this.


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