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It happened again: Hardware Unboxed receives bribing attempt from LG

Summary

Hardware Unboxed has received bribing attempts from LG CNS (marketing subsidiary from LG), whilst reviewing certain LG monitors. Hardware Unboxed was asked to review the new LG 27GP850, which they made a video about. There were however uncertainties about the embargo date so Hardware Unboxed asked when the embargo would be lifted. LG responded by offering them 'reviewing guidelines' and telling them that if they would not comply with these guidelines, they should not publish the review. They also wanted to control the review through drafts and offered 'compensation' for complying with the guidelines. After (obvious) refusal from Hardware Unboxed, LG then forbids them from publishing.

 

After their (Hardware Unboxed) confrontation with Nvidia, they now also get into an argument with LG. I'm truly disgusted by companies using these kinds of tactics. I'm also quite surprised by the fact that it is LG this time. Haven't they always been quite the decent and reputable company? These kinds of events are disastrous for independent reviewers and consumer safety. Absolutely shameful and dangerous. One of the best things we can do is quickly call out the companies involved.


Retry Post; Since this news has only one source and no written content, it cannot fulfil Tech News guidelines. Therefor it is posted here.

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Interesting... I've seen more and more coverage lately about companies bribing reviewers. Mostly about MSI, but now with LG...

Is it plugged in? Is it turned on? Are you sure? No, really. 

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Posted (edited)

It's sad some marketing or PR manager always ruins it, Nvidia, MSI, and now LG. It really sucks because LG makes good products, interesting that LG wanted to control the review based on the monitor not having a good "faster" response mode. Most monitors aren't very good with the fastest response mode anyway.

Edit- also disappointing LG tried to manipulate the review by telling HW Unboxed to review the monitor with specific settings and not wanting them to compare the 27GP850 with other LG monitors.

Edited by Blademaster91
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It always boggles my mind when companies try stuff like this. I don't think the risk is worth the possible reward

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In most instances, these kind of situations are the result of an inexperienced individual doing the wrong thing rather than an institutional problem with the company.

 

Still, not a good look.

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Maybe we're heading into a marketplace realignment where major consumer product manufacturers like LG etc will be taking steps to re-take the narrative about their products.

Maybe they are getting fed up with Youtubers and influencers riding their coat-tails. Maybe they feel it's no longer a symbiotic relationship.

It wouldn't be about how much money influencers get (It's nothing in this context) but how the narrative vis-a-vis a product or service is being represented.

 

The rude version might be something like, "you know what influencers, we're fed up with this experiment. You can go score outrage-points for the algorithm all you want but these are our products, our investment and from now on our narrative. If you want to play ball then here are our rules. If not, then fuck off, you were never as important as you thought, anyway."  "At the end of the day, after all the touchy-feels BS about consumer awareness and ethics, we consider you to be, in effect, a cheap advertising opportunity for us. When you stop being that, we will re-think how, and even if, we want to do business with you."

 

Presumably they would find polite ways to do this, however.

 

I have no idea if that's a thing, but I wouldn't be shocked. I wouldn't even entirely blame them.

 

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And just in the hopes of padding a monitor review that was probably going to be positive anyway... Totally pointless.

 

It's obvious that whoever tried this has no idea who Hardware Unboxed is. After what HUB has been through with ASRock and Nvidia, it's clear that they aren't interested in changing their "editorial direction" in exchange for anything.

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56 minutes ago, Blademaster91 said:

It's sad some marketing or PR manager always ruins it, Nvidia, MSI, and now LG. It really sucks because LG makes good products, interesting that LG wanted to control the review based on the monitor not having a good "faster" response mode. Most monitors aren't very good with the fastest response mode anyway.

Edit- also disappointing LG tried to manipulate the review by telling HW Unboxed to review the monitor with specific settings and not wanting them to compare the 27GP850 with other LG monitors.

Sounds like free sponsorship rather than a review.

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1 minute ago, Vishera said:

Sounds like free sponsorship rather than a review.

thats really what it always has been, people call it access journalism for a reason

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1 hour ago, Mel0nMan said:

Interesting... I've seen more and more coverage lately about companies bribing reviewers. Mostly about MSI, but now with LG...

Because there are a million wanna-be-tech review YouTubers out there, only a few hold major significance, but there are def others slowly rising to notable levels many of whom will do anything revenue cause this 'YouTube' thing is kinda underpaying for the majority.

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31 minutes ago, Rex Hite said:

Maybe we're heading into a marketplace realignment where major consumer product manufacturers like LG etc will be taking steps to re-take the narrative about their products.

Thing is, the display industry is still very much 'shrouded' . There are only a handful of competent reviewers out their and most normies dont even know they exist or that reviews for such products exist at all.

At the forefront of the display industry are the manufacturers advertised specs. Thats all most people see, and they are incredibly misleading and missing tonns of info.

 

These manufacturers (Displays) dont need to re-take the narrative, they still own it big time.

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I wonder if anyone said yes to their bribe?

REFRESH BEFORE RESPOND, I EDITED MY POST

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29 minutes ago, Vishera said:

Sounds like free sponsorship rather than a review.

I agree it does, I'd have to guess a lot of people that get monitors in for review do more of a free sponsorship just reading off manufacturer specs and telling you it's great for gaming, instead of an actual review. As mentioned there aren't many reviewers than go in depth with displays, like I wonder how upset companies are at Rtings because they're one of the most objective tech reviewers.

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7 minutes ago, Blademaster91 said:

Rtings

I love Rtings! - They are the only ones i trust with headphone reviews.

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1 hour ago, Rex Hite said:

"At the end of the day, after all the touchy-feels BS about consumer awareness and ethics, we consider you to be, in effect, a cheap advertising opportunity for us. When you stop being that, we will re-think how, and even if, we want to do business with you."

I mean, isn't that basically what every company views influencers, reviewers etc. to be when they send them free products to review?

 

I'm generally not a big fan of reviewers getting free samples, because it creates the incentive to be more lenient in order to secure and maintain access, because any of those companies can just not provide you with free review units in the future if they don't agree with your coverage. And it's a reasonable stance to take, I too would be hesitant to give people critical of my products access to them only for reviewers to shit all over them. Especially if I knew my product wasn't the best things since sliced bread (note: not aimed at LG or anyone in particular here), so only sycophants or bribed people would tout them.

 

Now I know tech isn't cheap and without these free samples (even if these outfits have to return them afterwards, since they're still technically owned by the companies that send them out) many websites, influencers and YouTube creators wouldn't be able to cover the more expensive products out there. But let's face it, reviews of those products aren't for the benefit of a majority of consumers anyway exactly because the price point simply doesn't match whatever the buying public can actually afford.

 

I'd have way more confidence in a product review if I knew it was purchased by whoever is reviewing it, because then they have demonstrable independence from the manufacturer and a vested interest in making sure that their review reflects reality to maintain credibility. And I get that someone like Linus or Steve from GN would come out and say that to them it makes no sense to take bribes because if that kind of information would get to their audience, their credibility would suffer. That's true, but even the act of getting something for free that allows you to conduct your job colors your perception somewhat unconsciously and if you want to continue having access to future products from the same manufacturer, you have to represent some kind of tangible benefit to that manufacturer. Otherwise, why would they send you, for example, a GPU in the future to tear apart when they could just give it to some smaller channel that's starting to grow, who maybe isn't business savvy enough to understand that they're being used as a marketing vector. 

 

Yeah, buying it would mean less coverage for the really expensive stuff, but as demonstrated, that's also not what the majority of people are going to end up buying, so fewer clickbait "reviews" of tech that cost and arm and a leg in favor of stuff most people can actually buy is more beneficial. Even for something like the LTT videos, when they constantly make content around these incredibly expensive products it just ends up being exhausting. I understand that this kind of content keeps people rubbernecking towards you if your videos are about ever more expensive stuff. But their usefulness as a source of information for my buying habits diminish over time so I tend to view their content less and less as a source of information and more as meaningless entertainment. If that's what they want to be, cool, but then they could just can the reviews altogether.

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So hwu cant release the review?

and why would he want to, excpect to call them out i guess.

reviewing is not illegal, yet.

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1 hour ago, SolarNova said:

In most instances, these kind of situations are the result of an inexperienced individual doing the wrong thing rather than an institutional problem with the company.

It is exactly this reason that i despise sales targets.

 

"if you don't get x amount of y, you're getting a write up/warning"

 

So the employee just starts trying to force as many people into doing y regardless of their own feeling about it just so they don't get punished.

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15 minutes ago, Avocado Diaboli said:

I'd have way more confidence in a product review if I knew it was purchased by whoever is reviewing it, because then they have demonstrable independence from the manufacturer and a vested interest in making sure that their review reflects reality to maintain credibility.

This is one of the reasons I really like HUB. They actually do go out and buy products to review. Steve bought several Intel locked parts and a bunch of low-mid range B560 motherboards because the companies aren't interested in sending review samples for those products. But, viewers want to know, because those products are more affordable. So, they just went out and bought them to test. (Also, turns out a lot of B560 boards are pretty bad, which might explain why they aren't getting sampled...)

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1 hour ago, SolarNova said:

In most instances, these kind of situations are the result of an inexperienced individual doing the wrong thing rather than an institutional problem with the company.

 

Still, not a good look.

 

2 hours ago, Blademaster91 said:

It's sad some marketing or PR manager always ruins it, Nvidia, MSI, and now LG. It really sucks because LG makes good products, interesting that LG wanted to control the review based on the monitor not having a good "faster" response mode. Most monitors aren't very good with the fastest response mode anyway.

Edit- also disappointing LG tried to manipulate the review by telling HW Unboxed to review the monitor with specific settings and not wanting them to compare the 27GP850 with other LG monitors.

According to the video it was CCed to multiple employees, so there was oversight. This is an issue with the entire department rather than one person going rogue.

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17 minutes ago, Mark Kaine said:

So hwu cant release the review?

and why would he want to, excpect to call them out i guess.

reviewing is not illegal, yet.

There could be an NDA with terms that came along with pre-released delivery of the item.  Worse, they could be cut off from future pre-release access.  This is coveted because when everyone else had days or weeks to test an item and have their video ready for the reveal date (Much like how the 3080 Ti and 3070 Ti reviews all dropped the day before it went on sale) you're left waiting until you can buy it at retail.  You also then have to buy hardware out of pocket when many others get it for free.  So you're at a funding and time disadvantage in a highly competitive landscape of tech tubers.  ...And the OEMs know damn well they have this power and some are not shy to use it.

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To me it would be fascinating if companies like LG and NVIDA etc deliberately "salt" the influencer and reviewer ground with worlds like 'bribery' because it creates a mood of distrust and suspicion against the reviewers, and so harms their value. The big companies can take the hit, especially since the loudest complaints will come from the same influencers and reviewers that are being discredited!

 

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2 hours ago, Jester Tracker said:

Retry Post; Since this news has only one source and no written content, it cannot fulfil Tech News guidelines. Therefor it is posted here.

It could've fit the Tech News section, it happens that sources are only videos, when that happens, simply post de video as the source, try to "quote" the host when possible and don't forget your "personal input".

If you want to make sure it follows guidelines and you're unsure if it is, simply report your own thread and ask for guideline reviews and see what we (moderators) will tell you and if edits are needed 😉

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2 minutes ago, Rex Hite said:

To me it would be fascinating if companies like LG and NVIDA etc deliberately "salt" the influencer and reviewer ground with worlds like 'bribery' because it creates a mood of distrust and suspicion against the reviewers, and so harms their value. The big companies can take the hit, especially since the loudest complaints will come from the same influencers and reviewers that are being discredited!

 

But whose mind is it going to change in their favor? If someone trusts reviewers, then those people are going to get mad at the company, which is bad. If someone distrusts reviewers, then those people are just going to take it as confirmation that reviewers probably take bribes all the time, and simply continue to distrust them. If someone is on the fence about it, though, then all it does is serve as an opportunity to educate that person about how the industry works. Tim explained the extent to which reviewers are independent of influence, including pointing out that to take a bribe without disclosing that the review was sponsored would be straight up illegal, which is something that most people probably don't know.

 

If I had no clue how the review process worked, and I click on that video, I think it would give me more confidence in reviewers, not less.

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3 hours ago, Jester Tracker said:

they should not publish the review.

Words are powerful and was this the case with LG? I have not watched the video but the wording you used gives the impression he could publish a review but they wanted obviously to give feedback even if its to give themselves a better outlook. Reviewers need to be careful either way, being very critical and using strong wording against a company can burn bridges and lead to fewer or no more reviewable products sent. This may or may not be the case as I do not watch this channel. Reviewers should be fair to both the customer and the product itself. They need to be truthful 100% but also know when to use personal/professional criticisms wording correctly.

 

example: This product sucks and nobody should buy this ever and the company should be ashamed. VS There are multiple flaws for this specific product being released and I believe that there are better options on the market right now and here is an example. 

 

I am generally with the reviewer as I believe they should have the freedom to criticize and talk about products without fear of their livelyhood. But the fact is there are many channels and they could easily find another user who would more favorably review their product. Wish some places even going with companies just to get the clicks giving into the demands. 

 

Note this is all based on your post as I am currently at work and will try to watch the video later. I also would like to bring up this is one side to the argument and would like to see what LG has to say in defense though I doubt they would publish anything very public unless something like this blows up. 

 

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