The Antonopoulos Group paid a group of bloggers and media people $500 each to "host" free dinners this week in exchange for enthusiastic social media boosterism. The guests: other bloggers and media people, who duly gathered at Kyo, Bevo, Méchant Boeuf, Modavie, Suite 701, Taverne Gaspar, Verses and Vieux-Port Steakhouse, all in Old Montreal, to wine, dine and tweet.
Most did as they were told (witness #HappeningGourmand) with nary a reference to the fact that the events were ipso facto paid promotions for a lone restaurant group.
This is the email the company's PR envoy, 1 Milk 2 Sugars, sent to the handpicked group of blogger/media personality hosts in advance of the event.
To celebrate the 8th edition of Montreal’s Happening Gourmand festival, we’re organizing intimate dinners of 10 and we’d love to have you host at [name of restaurant]! The 8 dinners will all take place simultaneously on Tuesday, January 13th with the possibility of everyone congregating together at the end for a drink to toast the night and the festival.
As the [name of restaurant] [host], you would invite a list of 10 guests (we will provide you the list and the digital invitation) and preside over the meal, prompting conversations regarding the restaurant and the festival and posting you and your guests’ experience on social media. As compensation for your time and engagement, we’d be happy to offer you $500.
Please see our invitation below and here’s the HG website for some more info about the festival: http://happeninggourmand.com/about/
Other than the "we'd be happy to offer you $500" part, notice that 1 Milk 2 Sugars writes that it will provide the list of blogger guests it expects the compensated "hosts" to invite.
Watch one of the compensated hosts, Karolina Jez, discuss #HappeningGourmand on Breakfast Television here as if she were a neutral party.