A Free iPad? There’s the Rub!

Let me tell you about the sad tale of a girl and her iPad…her almost iPad…

A couple months ago I received an email from a very well-respected PR firm that I, quite frankly, had been hoping to work with for some time.  After a few emails and a couple of calls, I learned that the campaign being discussed was for Vicks, a brand that I know, like and trust.  Perfect! The compensation for the work involved turned out to also be very generous, but in the end the requirements included parenting type posts including the recommended uses of Vicks VapoRub.  While I had all kinds of great stories about VapoRub and my grandma as well as how it’s a miracle cure for toe fungus (I’ve heard…my toes are fungus free, thank you), I really didn’t think that I could participate authentically because I had not used VapoRub on my own kids. It was a very tough decision, but I very regretfully declined working on this campaign because the fit just wasn’t there and my time was very limited.  The firm I wanted to work with, the incredibly fair compensation for my time…tough to walk away from.  However, I’m the blogger who is always pointing out that our time is finite as is the space on our blogs.  Every time we say yes to one thing, we are saying no to something else – another client, a topic close to our hearts, our kids, our spouse, heck, our laundry!  So I walked away.

Fast forward a couple of days and I received another email from someone else in the same office offering to send me a fun gift along with some VapoRub samples.  Now let me tell you, I enjoy a gift (please send all gifts to Amy Lu….just kidding), but I had just turned down that awesome blogging opportunity because it was not authentic to what I would write, and it would not be the best content for a client I respected and hoped to work with in the future.  I couldn’t now take the free samples of a product I don’t use on my kid just to get the gift.  Again, I politely declined. I also thought it might look strange that I had walked away from one opportunity and then said, I’m not going to write those posts for you, but sure, send over the goodies.  It’s important to note that the “gift” was offered as a promotional consideration for bloggers acting as brand ambassadors to help Vicks make people aware of the new Vicks Facebook page and application, as in the “promotional consideration was provided by the following sponsors” lingo you hear at the end of Jeopardy, not as in, “here’s a gift for your birthday.”  Either way?  It’s fun to get stuff, right?  But I digress…

Another blogger buddy of mine got the same offer and when we chatted, I let her know my situation and why I had to pass.  But we also talked about how this agency was doing other fun things with bloggers, so why not go ahead and receive the box, make the connections, see where it goes.  It wasn’t a fit for me, but it might be for her because she already uses the product with her kids.

And then she called me to tell me she was sent an iPad.

Let me say that again.

An iPad.



So after I cried for a few minutes (okay, not really, but I would have been justified in crying), I realized that nothing had changed.  I had still stayed true to my goals to manage my time effectively for myself, my family, and my clients, I had stayed true to my voice on this blog by only writing about something that I feel I could write about authentically, and I had hopefully allowed that box to go to someone else who loves the rub, I mean, the VapoRub.  I’ve heard from many that they stock it by the tub full. I’ve also heard more great things about the program including the clever integration of the power of “touch” with VapoRub and the iPad as well as the utilization of the iPad to share information about the product.  All of this just reinforces the fact that this is a smart firm doing fun things with bloggers, and turning in half-hearted work would have been a disservice to us both.

So the moral of the story?  It might be never look a gift horse in the mouth, but I think it’s that doing what feels right usually is right…even if it means walking away…

Leave a Reply


  • Amy, that’s a very respectable decision, I would expect nothing less of you.

    Just out of curiosity, is there any particular reason you don’t use VapoRub?

    For me, it’s just one of those products I feel more comfortable using over pouring cough syrup down my kids throats, which always turns out to be a horrible battle.

    • Amy

      Cat, that’s the funny thing. There’s no reason at all, we just haven’t. We use plenty of other Vicks products. When our kids have colds, we do heavy on the clear fluids, tons of vaporizer/humidifier action, propped up pillows to help with drainage, and Tylenol or Motrin for a fever. I think that when they changed the rules about cold medicine for kids, we stopped using anything instead of finding an alternative. Then for us, we alternate between just complaining a lot and bringing out the big guns, like NyQuil. So in this case, I had no problem with the product, just not enough experience to feel right signing on. AND had they sent me the offer in November, I would have likely said yes because heading into the cold and flu season, I would have had opportunity to try it. Also, phew!, knock on wood. Our kids have been really, really healthy this year!

      • Your so lucky, our kids are still cropping up colds and it’s just about April.

  • VapoRub actually saved me from a few nyquil hangovers this winter. You should try it!

    • Amy

      The ULTIMATE irony in all of this is that after being personally sick free the entire winter, I had a killer sinus infection two weeks ago and totally would have smeared the samples all over my body if that would have helped.

  • Great post. More people should heed this lesson. Doing right by yourself and others leads to greater rewards than an iPad.

  • Amy I love that once you knew what the outcome was, translation DUDE its an IPAD!, you didn’t say yes the second time either. Its a tempting offer that exemplifies how easily distracted people can get from their intuition if they focus on the shiny instead of the substance. Its a great campaign by a very savvy PR firm that never fails to disappoint the bloggers they engage or the clients they represent. An even better example that having core values matters and is what the bigger picture is all about. Thank you!

  • Janet

    Amy, good for you in sticking to your principles. I don’t use the product but my husband does. I wouldn’t have been able to accept the assignment unless my husband could have written about it. 🙂

  • Amy, I bet it was hard to hear about the prize afterwards, but the most important thing is that you were true to your principles. An i-Pad will come eventually 🙂

    Now, about VapoRub I have to say i love it! growing up in Mexico we used it for almost everything 🙂 even for mosquito bites. And now living in America is not the exception, my kids have a jar next to their beds always!

  • this is the first year that we tried VapoRub on my son – who every year gets the same hacking cough/stuffiness. He seemed to like it!

  • Bless your heart. I’m sure in some other way you will receive twofold a blessing for sticking by your goals and principles of your blog 🙂

  • Aw! Too bad you missed out. I have turned down working with companies, too, because of similar reasons. Always good to take the high road. Maybe karma will send you an iPad another way soon!

  • I knew you were crying over the missed iPad, but I didn’t think you’d write about it.

    This is an awesome post because it illustrates exactly what we (as leaders in the community) have been saying for years. Even an awesome deal has a flip side, and you can’t say yes to everything. Staying true to yourself, your interests, and your blog is much more important than a free iPad or even a paycheck.

    And something better is bound to come along. Wait and see.

    • LOL, not real tears, Tara. If I want an iPad, I’ll buy an iPad. We’re an Apple free zone here! But it was definitely an OH MAN! moment!

  • JDaniel4's Mom

    Stopping from the UBP’11! I totally respect doing what you can back up with experience and passing on projects that you can’t. I think pr firms do too.

  • OUCH!! that one hurts and funny enough even while not promoting Vicks your promoting Vicks. I personally have one of those little sample vicks in the cabinet for yrs. I can count on 1 hand how many times I used it. BUT I love the Vicks plug in’s your not rubbing anything on your children but simply putting the powerful vicks medicine into the air and still helps to clear the sinus and makes sleeping easier when you have a cold.

    Cudo’s to you Amy for passing on a project that wasn’t fitting for your family but hugs to you on the sad loss of an Ipad. I would cry too.