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Nestle Blogger Firestorm

by Tiffany in Tidbits

greedy corporation

Did you miss the drama on Twitter? I did. I don’t hang out on Twitter much anymore and I don’t read most of the popular mommy blogs because I have nothing in common with the moms who write them. I may start out reading and then get bored by all the sponsored posts and reviews of processed food. Sadly more and more of these blogs might as well hang a “For Sale” sign on the front page because clearly they are being compiled in PR lists for moms who will sell a favorable opinion to the highest bidder. I say this only because I see so many of the same names on these different campaigns. 

Remember the firestorm that erupted when a group of mom bloggers chose to promote a popular brand of bubble bath? They were promoting a children’s product that has cancer causing chemicals in it. I am not sure what they got in exchange but I hardly think it could be worth it. I wrote about the issue here… Toxic Bubble Bath.

I have done many reviews of companies and products on this blog and often times I get free product but what many people don’t know is that I get around 50-100 emails each day that ask me to review or endorse a company or product of some sort. Some try to lure me with a cash payment or a free trip to “dialogue” about their product. 99% of the time I ignore or flat out refuse their offers. When the only thing I want to tell them in a dialogue is “You Suck!”, somehow I think I would be wasting my time. Sometimes I accept the opportunity to review a product but I make no guarantees it will be favorable and I usually flat out refuse money in compensation. Why? Because my opinion is not for sale and my name is not for them to associate with their company unless I 100% approve of their company and their product. I sure would LOVE to have a free trip to California but I would hate to lend a helping hand to an unethical company and disappoint all the people who read this blog.

Nestle asked a large group of mom bloggers to fly out to California this week for a sponsored event. The moms got a free trip and a free hotel stay.  What they did not antcipate is that MANY moms would be really dissapointed by this. Nestle is a lot more than cookies and coaoa. They also control 40% of the worldwide market for baby formula and some of the attendees are breastfeeding advocates. They also have NUMEROUS unethical marketing tactics and their pushing formula on women in underdeveloped countries is actually resulting in babies dying. Women there believe the hype that formula is better for their babies and they mix it with dirty water, resulting in sick children. They may also not have enough money to keep a steady supply so they use less than the recommended amount of formula and water it down to make it go further… resulting in malnourished children. These women are being spurred to formula feed when clearly breastfeeding is better… but Nestle doesn’t make any money when women choose to breastfeed. The anger against Nestle in regards to this has been boiling since the 1970s with boycotts. It is still goes on today. There is also the issue of slave labor in reference to their other products.

I am not perfect. I don’t expect anyone else to be perfect but.. I don’t know… dying children and slave labor… those don’t seem like oopsie offenses that can be taken lightly by anyone being asked to lend a hand to their marketing campaign.

I hope mom bloggers start to see that we have a responsibilty to the people who read what we have to say. Why would we ever choose to influence them to buy Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Frito Lay, TV Dinners, J& J Bubble Bath, or Nestle no bake cookies and baby formula? What value does that bring to them? NONE. If it has no value to your readers, don’t do it. And in these cases… if it can harm your readers or promote a company that in turn does harm… especially don’t do it.

For more on this issue check out Annie’s Open letter to the attendees of the Nestle Family blogger event and Amy’s post: Did we learn anything from the Nestle Family Twitter-storm?

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

20 Comments on Nestle Blogger Firestorm

  • Casual Friday Every Day

    I missed all of this I guess. I don’t read a wide variety of mom blogs and most that I do read are simply mom bloggers like myself. I rarely ever do a review or get something free from a big company. Not because I couldn’t but because my blog has always been about journaling my life.

    I’d really like to see old school blogging come back into play but as long as PR companies are throwing their free stuff “our” way, I don’t know that it will. I have found the whole thing has cheapened blogging and it’s SO over-saturated now that I don’t rarely pay attention to what the next big company is doing with Mommy bloggers.

    I want to make it clear I’m not throwing stones, because I have in the past reviewed products and probably will in the future… but my price tag {if anyone wants to say that bloggers are for sale} is very high and I’m picky ;)

    And I actually think there is a difference between a blog like yours, where you’re here to educate and recommend things to people {and I assume you get paid for a lot of it with affiliate links – which I find different than promoting something with no income coming in from it} and a general Mom blog that will slave away to write up a review on a free tooth brush they received.

    I think the Mom blogs that get it right have a beautiful balance of blogging and occasionally getting a really cool piece of something to use and then talk about on their blog if they so choose. One such person comes to mind {steph} when I think about someone who has managed to find a good balance of being a true Mom blogger/writer with a splash of enjoying gifts from companies with the hopes that she’ll blog about them.

    As with anything, I do believe this will have its time. I’ve already seen Mom blogs remove their review blogs/sections and back off doing reviews. I’m seeing a shift in the community, but there will always be that portion that just finds it a rush to be courted by big companies that want to send you something free, or send you somewhere on their dime.


  • andiscandis

    I studied Nestle in business school and haven’t felt good about them ever since. Actually, the biggest lesson I learned (while getting my Master’s in Marketing) is that marketing is evil. Question all advertisement, especially when it isn’t obviously an advertisement.

  • Marghanita

    I am equally fed up with the constant bombardment of there no escape! I for one do not use adsense or any other form of paid advertising, the big guns take up enough of our space online and offline.


    ‘Connecting Kids to Nature’

  • So, what’s your opinion on all this? LOL. :-)

    I don’t think it’s contradictory for a breastfeeding advocate to support a company that makes formula (there are many reasons to give a baby formula and everyone has to make their own decisions)…but I also avoid Nestle in particular, because of the incidences with their formula in developing countries.

    But back to the big issue that you’re bringing up here and what mommy bloggers allowing to happen with your blogs…I find it upsetting too. And not for my usual vocal reasons of moms giving up the opportunity to earn a good living with their blogs.

    I really feel that this is a big hit to the power of the woman/mom as an influential consumer. Both the companies and the moms know moms have a very important voice when it comes to consumer matters. So companies are trying to shape that voice and moms are letting them. If the voice of a mom can be bought, then it’s power is lost.

  • I agree with you. I assure you that my blog has no advertising at all. Mostly just us and a few mama tips. Come and visit some time.
    I love your blog, thanks for the great info!

  • greenfession

    Hey, we just started – our site where you can confess your environmental transgressions and learn what you can do to change!

    We thought it would be a fun way to get people to talk about their efforts, and more importantly, for people to comment and provide solutions.

    So yeah, we’re just trying to spread the word and get some links back to our site! We do have a few ads on the site, but they’re simply to pay for the website script and hosting :)

    Thank you! Let’s make a change!

  • I’ve been living under a rock, I haven’t heard about this. But I guess it does not concern me because I ALWAYS research the company and products I review and giveaway, no chemicals or ‘greenwashing’ on my blog. At least that is how I try to do it and it is working well so far. I just don’t deal with any big names in the business – especially food and chemical conglomerates. Thanks for the post, a good reminder! Love your blog by the way!

  • AMEN sister!

    There’s always a price to pay for fun on someone else’s tab!

    You are right, people better wake up and appreciate the fact that there is an audience on the other end….the problem is, you and I might find Kraft M&C gross, or Nestle unethical but there are a lot of others that don’t (or don’t bother to research).

    I only hear of this from you since I’m laying low with the baby these days so I’ outta the loop :)

    Thanks for speaking your mind

  • Amanda

    I have been called “obsessed” just because I am trying to keep my family healthy. When you know something is wrong, why is it “creating hysteria” to call it out and flag it as a problem? The way I see it, the more you get attacked for something, the more it shows that you are absolutely right about your concerns. The companies who make billions selling us cheap and unsafe products sure don’t want us protective mothers in their way! They hire PR people just to denigrate our natural instincts and protect their profits, in any way possible.
    You get the most flak when you are over the target.
    Thank you for speaking out and thank you for your integrity.

  • Tiffany,

    I was so lost in all of this until I started reading the streams, the posts and doing some research of my own and I’m shocked at how defensive and rude some of the mom bloggers are being. Instead of realizing that they have a responsibility and could be asking questions, helping to bring light to issues and make a difference while they are on this free trip they are being mean and rude – similar to what happened with the J&J/Toxic baby campaign.

    If they took the trip that does not mean they have to promote the company in a good light or that they can’t listen to the other side and use their so called power to create good change. It really depends on how they look at it but instead of listenting, hearing reason and being a good person they are defending Nestle – for airfare and a hotel? How low is that?

    Moms really have to look at the brand, the history, the opportunity for good to come of things and postive change to happen and ethics. Common sense ethics. It seems many of these moms that we keep seeing (same faces) are having egos pumped up and believing they the companies instead of thinking for themselves.

    Thanks for sharing your opinion.

    • Sommer I agree that the trip doesn’t mean they have to promote the company in a good light but I would be very surprised if they did anything but that. The fact that it is the same faces over and over shows me that they are expected to do X and Y in order to ensure more of these trips and opportunities. Aka they did a bang up job for this company hence they are the perfect invitee to this event or promotion etc. These PR companies are smart.. they are picking bloggers they know will do what they are expected to do…. Walmart Moms, Frito Lay Moms, J&J Moms, Hanes Moms, Disney Moms, Nestle “Family”, etc. Let’s see if one does step up and take Nestle to task.

  • Very true. I get invited on trips and I’ve taken a few with NO expectations and I feel as though I ask questions, think of my readers first, I’m not bought and that I do it with integrity and ethics. I hope that this changes a few things and that someone steps up. When the J&J thing happened I was told that some moms did question but bought the J&J lines of crap and went with it verses standing up to them. That is what makes me sad. I’d like to see the influence do good things not just give PR.

  • I appreciate you gently, yet honestly you write. It is important for people to know what is behind many of the products they buy and how many businesses will go to any means to sell their product. Nestle is not a good guy and our family will not purchase products that they produce.

  • grrrl123

    good for you. I love to read your blog, and of course I don’t agree with you all the time, I agree most of the time. I like that you are straightforward in your opinions and not biased by the kickbacks. I know I’m getting your true opinion, and that’s why I read. Stay strong, and true to your ethics! You have people who support you and your opinions.

  • Well put! I have never even joined Twitter, but I did hear about the snafu via Facebook. Nestle Sucks! (But that’s hardly news. LOL)

    I guess that is one of the reasons I like your blog. I am interested in most of the products you review as they all match up to your blog’s theme of green and natural living.

  • Kate

    Totally agree! Thanks so much for caring and being true to yourself. Hopefully sites like yours inspire more people to do the right thing. There is too much selling out across the board in America. Selling out hurts everyone.

  • Wow, I feel very small in this whole blogging universe. I have never had any one offer to pay me anything or ask me to review anything. I write my blog to get facts out where I feel there is fallacy. I do book and DVD reviews on my own so women have an idea of good books and what they offer. I am a natural mom for over 28 years (when my first was born). I also have been a midwife and childbirth educator. My last is now 15. I heard about Nestle back in the 80’s and am really surprised they are still up to their same tricks. A bit scary that all of us speaking out for so long has had no impact on them and they are still up to the same BS. Some days I get so frustrated with humans making money at other human’s expense. I just don’t get it. Thanks for all your energy in keeping it real.

  • Beth

    You are not alone in recognizing this problem. The FTC is working on legislation that could fine bloggers up to $11,000 for not disclosing the fact that they have received rewards and other incentives for reviewing products.

  • kimmy d

    Yay, yay, YAY for you! Nestle is one of the most corporations out there, in my opinion. And as a proud lactivist, I would never promote a formula company in the first place. As far as not accepting advertising and “selling out”_ I applaud that. I agree that if I find a product I like, I will tell my mom friends about it because it is something I believe in or want to support- like cloth diapers or Luna pads. If I do “promote” them, it is going to be because I want my friends to have the benefit of these products, and because I feel like these are the kind of products that should be shared and have the opportunity to reach others. I don’t expect free products or money for my support. You are doing a service to other natural moms by reviewing products, thanks for putting your time and energy into it. I’m guessing it is a labor of love…

  • Carrie at NaturalMomsTalkRadio

    Hmm, guess I missed this too. I also avoid Nestle products and have for years because of their immoral business practices.

    I also do product reviews but like many here I am very selective. I have NO problem telling someone that their product is no good and I can’t recommend it to my audience. I refuse far more than I do.