Did Coca Cola buy links?

Janeth over at WPW pointed to a post that seems to indicate that may be the case.

Last Thursday (July 3rd), Coca Cola Brazil launched the drink i9 – Hidrotonico, the Brazilian version of Powerade. As a part of the i9 marketing strategy in blogs & social media, Coca Cola handpicked 9 prominent bloggers, custom made their homepage and gifted them a fancy USB mini fridge with the new product to be tested – a reason to blog about.

The above quote is taken from the Trend Spotting Blog

Advertising or link buying?

Well if you take the “Googly” perspective on this, I think it’s safe to say the bloggers were “paid” for their participation and at least one of them linked directly without tagging the link “nofollow”. That seems meet their criteria for ling “buying/selling”. If you remember, towards the end of 2007, Google got rather aggressive when it came to “paid links” and dinged those who chose not to comply with their “request” on how to handle them.

There are those that will say there is no such thing as “bad” publicity. However, I see this as a “sticky wicket” for both Coca Cola and the “compensated” bloggers that’s yet to unfold. True, Coke has generated a buzz about their product launch and the hand picked bloggers have already received quite a bit of attention from the blogosphere. But will it come back to haunt them? Will there be a reputation backlash for both?


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