Top Chef PR Vs Foodie Blogs Over Spoiler

Here is a likely case of a PR person getting a blog to remove a post, though after Google had indexed it.

According to Google News, foodie blog Chow published this two hours ago: “Last Monday, I spoke with Shannon Sturcken of FerenComm, the PR firm that represents the new Bravo TV show Top Chef Masters. I told her I knew who won the …” Click through to the post and you get:

chowhound.jpg

A quick Google search reveals that the text above isn’t from Chowhound originally, but from The Yummy Letter, who kept the post up, which fully explains that there’s more at stake than the egos of a few superchefs. The spoiler itself is still in the archives of Yummy Letter’s 18,000 circ e-newsletter.

The rest of the text of the blog post is after the jump:


I told her I knew who won the competition and had published it last week in the Yummy letter’s SCOOP, which reaches almost 18,000 folks via email. It carried a spoiler alert.

If you do NOT want to know who wins the whole thing, do NOT go to the archives.

Sturcken explained that all the participants signed a contract that stipulates that it will cost them $1 million if they reveal the outcome.

She then said she wouldn’t ask me my source and I said, that’s good, because I won’t reveal my source.

FYI: I am protected by the California Reporters’ Shield law and something called the First Amendment.

She asked me why would I write about the winner.

I told her because I am in the news business and it is news.

She concluded that the Yummy letter’s SCOOP was cheating people out of their experience.

The next installment was a call from the PR person, who actually reps the master chef who won.

She suggested that we might want to remove the news from our archives because the show was for charity: each chef’s charity benefits from their win (the show is set up in rounds), with the top prize of $100,000 going to the Top Chef Master winner.

And, more importantly, no one would watch if they knew the outcome. But, I thought, the money is in the bank for the charities, so no one loses a dime.

What this whole brouhaha is really about is Bravo’s business and advertising revenue, and here’s why from James Hibberd’s June 11 Live Feed blog:

Bravo’s Top Chef Masters got off to a soft start Wednesday night, drawing about half the rating as the most recent premiere of the network’s original hit Top Chef.

Hibberd’s blog goes on to say:

Hubert KellerMasters” opened to 1.4 million viewers and a 0.7 adults 18 to 49 rating. Its 11 p.m. encore garnered an additional 600,000 viewers.

As opposed to this, from February 2009, according to Hibberd:

Wednesday’s Top Chef season five closer (3.7 million, 2.1 adults 18 to 49 and a 6 share) became the show’s second-highest-rated episode ever, growing 11% over the finale last year. The episode fell just 1-10th of a point behind Season 2’s record high, but was easily the most-watched episode in recent years. (Overall, season five ranks as the highest-rated season of the show yet.)

And then there’s this from Advertising Age by Andrew Hampp:

Bravo is cooking up a high-end special based on its Top Chef franchise… The cream-of-the-crop approach has translated to the show’s sponsors as well.

Longtime sponsor Toyota Motor Co. has upgraded its involvement to focus on Lexus, which will provide the winners of each of the nine qualifying rounds with $10,000 for the charities of their choice, totaling $90,000 in donations. New this year is Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Stella Artois, which will sponsor weekly on-air tune-in spots and billboards…

The individual challenges on Top Chef Masters will also be put through Bravo’s rigorous “brand filter” for integrations and product placements. In recent seasons they’ve included everyone from Diet Dr. Pepper to Butterball to Quaker Oats, amid occasional fan backlash.

Wouldn’t it be funny if Bravo subpoenaed me to spill the beans? I, of course, would refuse and they’d send me to the pokey, where I would go on a hunger strike, come out incredibly slim, marry a millionaire old dude, and retire in Barcelona.