“Do they think that I look like I need this? Do they think I have such low self-esteem or that I think appearance is so important that I’d subject myself to the pain?” writes blogger Beatrice Birkeldh.
Her comments come after she received an invitation from Q-Med, an Uppsala-based biotech company which specializes in implants for “aesthetic and medical” uses, featuring two of the company’s more popular products for wrinkle-removal and breast augmentation.
“You can try Restylane and Macrolane for a year if you write about the treatments and products regularly in your blog for a year,” Q-Med wrote to Birkeldh in an email published on her blog.
Birkeldh told the Upsala Nya Tidning (UNT) that she knew of several other popular Swedish bloggers, all of them young women, who received similar offers from Q-Med.
While some bloggers had reactions similar to Birkeldh, others took the company up on the invitation.
Another model and blogger went so far as to post a YouTube clip on her blog showing her on an operating table getting Restylane injected into her upper lip.
The 25-year-old blogger doesn’t see the problem with the fact that Q-Med sponsored the treatment or that she failed to mention the company’s support of the procedure in her blog.
“What’s free is good. My readers are interested in stuff like this and if Q-Med invites me to test their products for free, it doesn’t matter,” she told UNT.
But the editor-in-chief of Finest.se, the website on which the 25-year-old’s blog is published, said the practice of bloggers accepting free offers from companies without telling readers was unacceptable.
“We plan to write to our bloggers and say that they’re not allowed to take offers like these; it damages credibility,” said Finest.se’s Alexander Erwik to the Dagens Media newspaper.
In the wake of the controversy, Q-Med has condemned the offer, which originated with the company’s own marketing department and was sent to 15 different bloggers.
“These offers aren’t something we support. The email to these bloggers was not a well-thought through initiative,” said Q-Med marketing director Tommy Gullbo to UNT.
“I’m not sure how this happened but this isn’t a normal way for us to market our products…It won’t happen again.”