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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Lunchables Jr.: Save the Pack, Wrap and Stash.

I was chosen by Crowdtap to hold a Lunchables Jr. Playdate, and received the yummy snacks in exchange for my feedback.

I'm sure we all know what Lunchables are. Lunchables Jr. are a treat for the younger set that has all the construction fun of regular Lunchables, with cute names like Teddy Bear Picnic, Ants on a Log, Blueberry Bonanza, and Very Beary Crunch.

The two we tried out were Teddy Bear Picnic and Blueberry Bonanza.

Teddy Bear Picnic has honey flavored Teddy Grahams snacks, dried apple pieces, and a little tub of peanut butter. Blueberry Bonanza has Cheez-Its crackers, blueberry flavored dried apple pieces, and mini Nilla Wafers.

The packaging was very appealing to the little ones. I just held them out, and the kids snatched them up and pulled them open. There was a third guest, age 4, but I was asked not to put her image in my post.

The first thing they did was start nibbling. They got really excited, though, when I told them that for a change of pace, they could play with their food. The dried fruits and crunchy treats are ideal for artwork. My son took this prospect quite seriously.

Together we created (All names chosen by the kids):

Mr. SnackMan.

The Great Snack Caterpillar. He's holding a teddy bear. The kids insisted.

And last but not least..Snack Bot.

They finally got hungry enough that the art was soon gobbled up. My daughter in particular enjoyed the peanut butter, much to the chagrin of the others.

I polled the kids to get their feedback. The consensus was that they loved the cookies and crackers, but the fruit wasn't a big hit. Between the two fruits, the blueberry flavored apple pieces were more popular.  None of them ate very many of the regular dried apples...they said they were too soft and chewy. They really liked the little peanut butter dipping cup in the Teddy Bear Picnic. The thing they mentioned the most, oddly enough, was the package. They thought it was "fun" and liked the way it looked.

My grownup opinion wasn't far off from theirs. I liked the packaging as well...the size and shape is very easy for little fingers to manage. The colors, too...very bright and sunny, perfect for that age group. The crackers and cookies were all classics, and very appealing to kids, and even me. I loved the blueberry flavored apple pieces, but agreed with the kids on the plain ones...while tasty and flavorful, the texture left a bit to be desired. The blueberry ones were a surprise to me, personally...I thought they were dried cranberries, not apples. Very cool. The best part is being able to just grab a healthy snack all ready to go without having to pack it up, wrap it and stash it for later.

All three enjoyed Lunchables Jr. tremendously, and my son begged for more. I am curious to try the other two flavors, so they'll be on my next shopping list. I think they're a great option for both busy on the go moms and a fun treat anytime.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Why You Might Not Be Getting Brand Campaigns: My Thoughts

As you might have noticed, the majority of my posts are reviews for products I get for free via various campaigns.

I take these campaigns very seriously. In my perspective, they're my job, and the companies have every right to have certain expectations, and to either reward or decline depending on whether those expectations are met. I keep a close eye on my conduct on social media, because I feel I'm acting as their representative, even when I'm not "on the clock".

In my opinion, some people consider the items they get in exchange for review or testing to be free gifts, and that they have no responsibility whatsoever to the company that gave them. This is unfortunately perpetuated by a lot of "freebie" sites posting them as such, rather than barter for services rendered.

The behavior of some of the others who also belong to these companies is, frankly, disturbing. The primary issue I see is people complaining about not getting enough campaigns. So I compiled a list of the reasons I've observed that might be the problem.

1. When doing the social sharing, you put out posts that are poorly worded, misspelled, or lacking punctuation. The point of these projects is to be creative and put your own spin on it, and that you are a representative of the brand. How you come across affects the brand, and the company that gave you the campaign. It takes a couple of seconds to check your work. Do it.

WORST EXAMPLE: I've seen a member who consistently misspells the company name in every post she makes, and she's had several campaigns. I fail to see why she wouldn't at least check to make sure that was right.

2. You rant on social media about how the company is unfair, and you never get campaigns. Usually in the kind of awkward prose I mention in Example 1. We're supposedly taught as children that screaming and throwing fits do not get us what they fact, it's the opposite. Logically speaking, if you're spewing rancor in poorly expressed prose, a company certainly does not want you acting as a representative for your brand.

If you feel the process is unfair or biased, take your concerns, in a polite and adult manner, to the proper areas...PRIVATELY. These companies have thousands of people wanting campaigns, and they are hobbled by what the brand wants, factors like region, gender, and age group. No amount of whining, screaming, ranting, or passive-aggressive muttering will change that. It might keep you in your current position of nothing, however. I've dealt with the customer service of several companies, and all were both cordial and helpful, even when I made mistakes or had concerns.

 A.  I saw a woman complaining on the company's Facebook page that not only was she angry about not getting a particular campaign, but the brand would suffer from not having her involved. Beyond arrogant, right?

B. On another company's Facebook page, not only did the woman rant rather nastily to the company, when a well-meaning colleague tried to help, she was told, "STFU, this doesn't concern you." Would ANYONE want this person representing them?

But what should you do?  
Support your colleagues and the company by sharing, retweeting and commenting. Show up to company events like Twitter parties and actively participate. Make sure any activities the company requires is up to date. Number one: When you do get a campaign, do it up right. Which leads me to the third issue.

3. When you do get a campaign, you slack off and do the bare minimum, or you don't take care with the activities. In most cases, it's not quantity, it's quality. You can whip right through a list of activities in five minutes, sure. But the idea is that you're trying to drum up interest in the brand. If you don't think it through, take your time and do your best, you might not get another campaign. Yes, you did all the requirements, but poorly and without any real effort. Less is often more in these situations...most companies prefer you do a few things very well than everything poorly.

WORST EXAMPLE: I've seen people posting images to fulfill a challenge that they stole off of Google images. Not just once. MANY times.

4. You don't follow the rules. Two ways this can hurt you. First, the company often gives you lots of leeway, but there can be certain activities they want done a certain way. Read your instructions, and do it right. You don't know better than them what should be done, no matter what your experience or skill set is. Second, there are rules with each company that require certain phrases in postings when you are acting as a brand ambassador. THEY ARE LEGALLY REQUIRED. It's not just to torture you. If you consistently forget, you might move down the ranks. I know, we all goof...I've done it. The occasional mistake won't hurt you. In my experience, the company just lets you know it needs to be redone. But if you blow it off, it'll hurt you.

WORST EXAMPLE: I've seen many posts that didn't do what the brand requested at all, but it was still submitted. They then complained about it on social media as if it was the company's fault when it was rejected.

5. You're coming off as greedy or desperate. If you don't get a campaign, congratulate the ones who do. If you get one, don't beg for another one. If you attend a Twitter or Facebook event, don't beg for prizes, be sociable. If you win, say thank you. If you don't congratulate the winners. There's nothing wrong with saying, "Oh, cool, what a great campaign," or even "I love it!", but avoid things like "I wish I'd gotten that one", "Why didn't I get that one", or "Please give me that one". It's okay to compliment the brand, like "My son loves Transformers", or "We always drink TruMoo and love it!", and it might even make you a more attractive candidate. Being polite never hurt anyone.

WORST EXAMPLE: So many. To sum it up, people can really get nasty when free stuff is involved.

This is my personal opinion, based on my observations and what has always seemed to work for me. Comments, questions and differing opinions are welcome.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Puffs Fresh Faces: Totally Your Momma's Boogie Wipes

I was chosen by the awesome folks at P&G to try out their newest thing, Puffs Fresh Faces.

I've used and LOVED Boogie Wipes, as I have two young ones, aged 1 and 4. This is the version for the Mommies, who also want that fresh feeling and gentle cleansing. Through an agreement with Little Busy Bodies Inc., the group of moms who developed the saline based goodness that keeps my babies' faces clean, Puffs Fresh Faces was born.

Yes, a group of moms leading the way. Isn't that fabulous? But I'm getting off topic. If you want to read more, check out this article.

On topic again...So what are Puffs Fresh Faces for?

If you're not familiar with Boogie Wipes, they're a saline based wipe that comes in yummy scents that are PERFECT for "saving the sleeve". Not only do they easily remove the crustiest of boogies, they're gentle and soothing, and help keep away sore, red nose issues. I love the Great Grape scent smells so good, I can get a good wipe in before they realize what it is. (.: They're also available in Fresh, Menthol (to help with stuffy noses), and Unscented.

That's what Puffs Fresh Faces are, only I feel they're more for pampering than keeping your clothes free of crusties. Along with the saline, they're infused with aloe and Vitamin E, and they smell FANTABULOUS.

The Fresh scent is a light floral, with a slight fruity note. It really perked me up.

The Light Lavender is lovely. It has a scent like natural lavender, and is subtle and fresh. This one was my evening treat.

Finally, my savior from my seasonal allergies: The Vicks Scent. It's strong enough to open your stuffy nose up, but not harsh or irritating. It worked fabulously on my congestion, and helped me feel comforted, besides.

I used them for many things: cleansing, soothing my irritated nose, and just freshening up. They worked well for removing makeup. The best was using the Fresh scent during the day. It was wonderful for a quick cleanup after a workout, and made my errands much more comfortable, despite the heat and humidity of a Virginia summer. Something about that scent just made me feel more alert.

The wipes are a nice size. The thickness is good, too...not so flimsy they fall apart, not so heavy that they tug.

 The packaging is a nice size to carry with you , and fun, too. You peel back the label and there's a pop top, like on baby wipes. It keeps them nice and neat and moist, ready for the next use. I like the design of the packaging...the colors really match the scents.

All in all, I think it's a new and interesting product, and I'm curious to see if there's any more scents planned. So now in addition to my usual stash of Boogie Wipes, Mommy is going to have her Puffs Fresh Faces to keep her feeling fabulous. Thank you, P&G and Little Busy Bodies Inc.!

Time for a Light Lavender relaxation moment...

I received products in exchange for my review. My opinions are my own, and are truthfully stated.