ASCII by Jason Scott

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What Selling Out Reads Like —

Over two and a half years ago, I wrote a statement on Sockington selling out, where I basically said the following:

“I am not going to sell Socks out.  Period.  Drag your “proposal” or ‘touching base” or “big idea” or “possibility” to your trash icon, or I’ll kindly take the time to do it for you.  The store is closed. It was never open.”

I also felt I had to clarify what “selling out” meant, and what I came up with was:

For me, “Selling Out” for something like Socks comes when the cat or myself are doing things we would never do on our own, and people give us money to convince us to do this. Oh, they may couch it as “paying for your time and effort” or “to help with your maintenance costs”, but it’s taking cash to do something otherwise never happening.

So in that spirit and knowing that, I will inform you I was contacted a month or two ago by a company that wanted me to sell Socks out. Do a promoted tweet, as they call it. As usual, I toy with these guys, so I needled them along and asked how much. $5000/tweet, they said.

Hmm.

Sockington (the actual grey cat) is now (we think) about seven. Penny (the actual orange cat) is now easily ten. Penny and Socks have both seen years of very nice health – no major issues, no overnight visits, you name it. They’re kept on a good diet and kept indoors and exercised and they’re in a rather beautiful home outside of Boston, a place of stairs to climb and rooms to run and general Cat Heaven.

But cats don’t live forever and let me tell you, being involved in the whole Sockington Twitter thing has told me an awful lot about how quickly things go with them. One day they’re purring in your lap and wondering when the next mealtime is, and the next day they’re very, very sadly meowing and you go to the Vet and the Vet suddenly drops in your lap some sort of terrible decision. And that decision is often one that, bluntly, translates to “For three thousand dollars, your cat will live for at least months and probably years, or we can kill it.”

So, call it the years piling on, but I had this rough idea in my head that it might be kind of sweet of Socks and Penny (and Tweetie, the third cat, who needed actual $1500 surgery a year or two ago) to have a couple tweets that ensured that the only decision in a future medical malady was how fast they could get back on their feet. Call it a wavering, a moment of weakness, maybe for some of you a “cold dose of reality”. But what the heck, it wouldn’t hurt to talk to these people.

It took a while, weeks really, but they eventually came back with actual things to sign. And, of course, because everyone in that sort of business is a bait-and-switch scumbag, it suddenly went from “$5000/tweet” to “$2500/two tweets”. And if that sounds awesome, it would be scripted by someone else, specifically to sell a product, a product that had nothing to do with cats.

Subsequently, I could see how this was going to go. With an Non-disclosure agreement attached, and more requirements than I could shake a stick at, it was going to be months of e-mails to get the actual money, money which, again, falls down into the “I sort of have access to that kind of money” level and which, like any such thing done, was a loss of principle and meaning in the name of some hocked-together justification. It’ll heal my cats!!!!!!!!

So while there was this tiny, tiny percentage of me going “hmm”, most of me got sickened by the entire enterprise within a day or two, and as the actual documents piled in, that pretty much settled it. So no, Socks continues to not push house cleaning products on his twitter feed. He continues to be a very strange, very odd little cat.

And as for my little bait-and-switch scumbag marketing guys, who wanted to make a cat tweet about some household product for a few bucks, and were willing to jerk me around for eyeballs? It turns out I don’t do that.

But what I will do is drop all the documents and contracts related to the deal.

So here we go, here’s everything they sent me.

  • W9 (Tax ID Number) request form, which is pretty standard, but still, it’s for a cat tweet.
  • Vendor Diversity form, in case there was a bonus diversity to the Sockington enterprise. like being a historically black college or if Socks lived in a generally downtrodden part of the countryside, just waiting to be lifted out of poverty.
  • Finally, here’s what you probably want to actually read: Sponsored Social Media Agreement 04-27-12 - a word-compatible .doc file of the terms of two Sockington tweets to promote the product in question.

Oh, it’s all in there – the kind of stuff you sign your life away with as “talent” in a promotion, the willingness to get involved in secrecy, in acting like oh, one day Socks decided to start tweeting about some sort of product, in a way unlike himself, and right off to those delicious million eyeballs.

Somewhere down there is this line:

Talent agrees that if Talent commits a material breach of any provision of this Agreement or at any time fails or refuses to fulfill Talent’s obligations hereunder, then Marketer or Agency may terminate this Agreement and Talent will not be entitled to any compensation. Talent further agrees that if Talent should die, or fail to fulfill Talent’s obligations hereunder due to illness, injury or accident so that, in Marketer’s or Agency’s judgment, Talent’s disability will preclude Talent from rendering the Services described above, then Marketer or Agency may terminate this Agreement and Talent will not be entitled to any compensation.

Since I didn’t sign, and I have told you about it, I guess that constitutes a “material pre-breach”, where I’ve already taken a big ol’ dump on the whole prospect of the cat being turned into a mouthpiece for said products. Oh well. I’ll get over it.

Enjoy the glimpse into how bad it can get.

And I’ll pet Sockington for you.


Categorised as: jason his own self

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35 Comments

  1. pinguino says:

    you know that if something happened to your cats, and you needed some help, the internet would be there for them. definitely don’t ever, ever need to put them to work to cover potential medical bills. when tendency’s mochicat got sick, anyone who’s ever crashed on her couch and petted the cat pitched in to save his life. socks and penny have lots of friends.

    • Scott Craig says:

      This is very true. We will all come to their rescue if and when the time is needed.

      • Pam Minch says:

        So true. Socks Army is there for Socks, Penny and Tweetie at the drop of a hat. You’ve channeled some great, entertaining content about the cats via the internet, and the people who’ve enjoyed those tweets over the years would be glad to help if an emergency situation ever arose.

        • Suldog says:

          Hell, I’ve never read you before, and I’m a dog to boot, but I’d pitch in. Relax, forget the scumbags, and give the kitties a skritch behind the ears for me.

  2. Scott Craig says:

    I understand where you are coming from, however; I also think of all the good the three kitties could do, if for nothing else, help other less fortunate cats in shelters and such. They could use their celebrity status to raise funds to help other cats in dire need.

    • Jason Scott says:

      Over the years (the @sockington account has been tweeting for 5 years, believe it or not), money and awareness have been raised for a large variety of charities and endeavors. While it’s not likely to have been for more than a few thousand, it’s definitely happened. As for inspiring rescues, my rough estimate is that Sockington and Sockelganger (the other account) have saved well over a hundred cats directly, based on mail I’ve been sent about people going out and adopting after loving the stories of Socks and Tweetie and the rest.

  3. Above poster is right. If Sockington and friends can’t get at least a dollar from each follower for something as understandably important as medical treatment, then maybe we don’t deserve the wonderful dose of humor you, errr, Sockington, provides.

  4. Dee D. says:

    But, (@Scott) Socks Army is already raising money for cats in need, I thought? And yep – When Penny, Socks or Tweety need anything, I expect the net will be there. I know I’ll chip in! :)

  5. Ghosty Kips says:

    All you have to do is say “Socks is sick, it’ll cost whatever, and we need a hand”, and you know damn well we’d each send a little and it would be enough. We probably wouldn’t mind if Socks promoted a cat-related item that was actually very good for cats and all that … and a cat health fund is a good idea (we have one). I’m very clad you didn’t make Socks tweet about cleanser or whatever. Gaa.

  6. bvac says:

    “Stockington”

    • Rubes says:

      Seriously, the very first freaking word they filled in on the form is incorrect. And it’s the Talent’s name. Supreme fail.

  7. Annalisa says:

    I sure don’t miss working for lawyers.

  8. Arallyn says:

    I’ve never emailed you directly (I was always under the impression that Tweetie had actual psychic powers that could be transmitted to other members of the household), but I know that our nub-tailed ginger derp-manx was accepted as a new ward largely thanks to me legitimately asking my partner “What would Sockington want?” In the days after his mum passed, there was serious doubt about whether or not we’d be able to afford or would even want to take on another cat, especially one that reminded us both so much of her…

    But as much as I have no doubt that he would have had no problem finding a home due to his unique appearance, I know that we’ve known him for years, and he knows us, and he’s happier than an annoying, meowing-at-4-am clam (because I’m convinced clams don’t know happiness) here with us. And Sockington was the turning point in our conversation.

    The Internets would have every cent of any need Sockington or family had covered, I’m positive…so long as it doesn’t have to deal with questionable non-Sockington-esque advert tweets. ._.

  9. Bruce says:

    In microscale, this is an example of what celebrities actually do for their primary job, frighteningly enough. The book Celebrity Inc is a too-far-over-the-tedious-line description of this sort of thing writ large over modern celebrities.

  10. Great Fan of the Sockster says:

    A. Good decision – amazing how those life lessons leave a funky aftertaste!

    B. If your cats ever need saving, social media will be there for them – remember how the world freaked when Socks went missing?

    Love to the furries,
    T

  11. finkit77 says:

    integrity… it’s what’s for dinner. thank goodness!!

  12. uebergeek says:

    “Talent represents and warrants that Talent is twenty-one years old or older….”

    Is that in cat years or human years?

  13. Witchblade says:

    Love the pics.
    It’s all true :)

  14. John H. says:

    I’m just writing to say how much I approve of all of this, from not selling out to copies of the documents involved to pictures of Penny and Socks.

  15. baljemmett says:

    “(a) [Sockington]’s statements will reflect [Sockington]’s honest views and experience with Marketer’s products and services ([Sockington] agrees, if necessary, to furnish appropriate testimonial affidavits);”

    That sounds like a good trick, even for human talent…

  16. Sarah says:

    I’ve been following Sockington for years, he is the reason i signed up for an account, but wasn’t quite aware of Penny and Tweetie. Do they tweet as well? How can I find them?

  17. Tom W says:

    As others have written, ask for help for Socks or Penny or Tweetie, and you’ll get it. Socks deserves whatever dignity his life as a spokescat for gluttony, laziness, and self-admiration will allow. Relax and be principled. I pay for all sorts of crap less important than that. -tw

  18. Anne says:

    See, this is why I have loved the Sockington enterprise for lo these many years. It’s not the pithy things he says so much as the wonderful spirit behind him, his fellow housecats, and his people. Thank you.

    And let me add to the voices that say if you ever needed money, you’ve got it.

  19. Rhonda says:

    So glad you made the right ( and only ) choice . Love reading your stories and seeing the photos !

  20. Lark says:

    Plus: THEY SPELLED HIS NAME WRONG. As if there weren’t enough warning signs already. Fascinating to read this and I’m with everybody above — if Socks or Penny or Tweetie ever need help, I’d be happy to provide some. It would be a privilege after all the laughs they have provided me over the years.

  21. Midnight Fostercat says:

    “What would Sockington do?” has been my staff1′s mantra since she first discovered Twitter. It has inspired her to donate to our local no-kill shelter, rescue and pay vet bills for a stray kitten attacked by a neighbor’s dog, and (unfortunately) adopt more fostercats when the pound had a 2-for-1 sale. She (and we, of course) are relieved that Socks’ integrity is still intact, and that you are giving him extra pats and ear skritches.

  22. Anna says:

    Hear, hear, on the helping out bits … I had to convince Spook and Precious NOT to send kibble. You guys do an awesome job, thanks for the integrity and entertainment.

  23. Melrose says:

    I love you, Fatty, and you, too, Food-Lady. You are awesome and I understand completely the temptation that having financial security for your cats’ illnesses would bring, and respect the hell out of your decision in light of it.
    I’m pretty sure the socks army would hold the dears in good stead, should the unthinkable occur. In fact, if you don’t let me know if you ever need financial help for their care, I’ll be upset. I don’t have much, but I will help out if I can.

  24. mjfrombuffalo says:

    @bronxzoocobra on Twitter seems to have taken the bait.

    http://twitter.com/#!/BronxZoosCobra/statuses/202111513396379649

  25. Martha Foster says:

    Ever since the People magazine article I have followed Socks, Penny and Tweetie. I have donated to the non-profit organization in California as a direct result of Fatty’s intervening on their behalf. Fatty and Food Lady and the cats have “done it right” so far. Good job. You are following your gut instinct and so far I think you’ve done a marvelous job. I had a very sick cat for over 4 years until a month ago when I had to put him down 5 days short of his 17th birthday. I was able to pay for his expenses. I agree with everyone else…we…Socks’ friends and family will help if the cats need it. What goes around…comes around. You have done and you do good works. You will reap what you sow…if needed.

  26. Leslie says:

    don’t ever sell Socks down the river. You know Socks Army and their human staff will be there for the little guy and PennyCat and Tweetie (erstwhile Son O’Socks). But your principles are gone forever when you make that first sale……..

  27. Benny says:

    The forms they sent you are pretty standard. I’m a freelance designer and I sign contracts like these all the time — the other ones (W-9, etc.) are actually legal forms. If they are to pay you for your talent in the promotion, they have to legally account for that for tax reasons. It’s not so appalling.

    Finally, why the phobia with “selling out”? If there’s something I do for fun, and people enjoy it enough to want to pay me to promote the things they like to do, it seems like a healthy and friendly exchange. It’s not like the people at Corporation X (in your case, the people at Glad) are all evil and schemey. And if some are, avoid doing business with those types of people. But certainly, the people at Glad who discovered you and ultimately engaged you to promote their product(s) are obviously fans. It’s not like some shadowy executive on the 400th floor of a dark building is plotting to exploit you and your cat, make millions off of you, and kick you to the gutter…. in reality, a marketing exec, or one of his/her interns probably found your persona entertaining and thought your cat would be a cute mascot for their product.

    Further, usually companies don’t draw up a contract and send you a W-9 unless you’ve already had several promising conversations with them. So you probably led them on, as if you wanted to move forward with the sponsorship; didn’t you?

    If anything, YOU are actually “selling out” by using this whole thing as a media stunt for yourself. To show how much integrity you have, or how humble you are… or whatever. It’s kind of pathetic really.

    P.S. The contract they sent you protects YOU against them as well — you didn’t touch on that. And the W-9 is actually meant to be sent BY the laborer (you) TO the client (them) to account for taxes. The only purpose of the form is to log an Employee Identification Number. In this case, YOU are the employee, and they are the employer. Them sending you the W-9 was a favor to you, so you didn’t have to hunt for the form yourself.