Ann Taylor Offers Bloggers Gift Cards In Exchange For Coverage

Brand marketers and agencies: you can’t pay bloggers or offer them free stuff in exchange for posts. You should know this by now.

Apparently some brands don’t. We were drawn to the latest obvious infringement of the new FTC disclosure guidelines via stories from the LA Times, Jezebel and Women’s Wear Daily, pointing to an event by Ann Taylor in which the invite included the following copy:

Come take a sneak peak at LOFT’s summer 2010 collection before anyone else! Bloggers who attend will receive a special gift, and those who post coverage from the event will be entered in a mystery gift card drawing where you can win up to $500 at LOFT!

It gets better:

Please note all bloggers must post coverage from our event to their blog within 24 hours in order to be eligible. Links to post must be sent to [address], along with the code on the back of your gift card distributed to you at the event. You will be notified of your gift card amount by February 2. Gift card amounts will vary from $10 to $500.

Apparently the deal worked, as Jezebel points to a bunch of favorable stories from the event, many of which fail to disclose the gift card “drawing.”