Monday, May 31, 2010

My response to BlogHer's Nestle sponsorship


I'm not attending the main New York conference, which is the subject of the controversy, but my mother and I are attending the October food conference in San Francisco, as we co-author Fab Frugal Food. Information about sponsorship for that event has not, as far as I can find, been released yet, so I thought all the better to make my voice heard NOW (though as a member of BlogHer, I feel I'd have a right to my opinion regardless of conference attendance anyway). So, I sent this missive off to BlogHer today:

Hello,

I'm writing regarding the BlogHer Food 2010 conference, which I'm very much looking forward to attending with my mom and co-blogger, for our joint food blog Fab Frugal Food. It came to my attention today that the main BlogHer conference in New York has Stouffer's - and thus Nestle - as a sponsor. Were I planning to attend this, I would be facing a huge ethical dilemma, as I have boycotted Nestle for years due to their outrageously unethical marketing practices and WHO Code violations. I realize that that it's impossible to please absolutely everyone, but Nestle is absolutely notorious for its flagrant irresponsibility, and is known for being a lightning rod in the blogging community, as we saw with last year's Nestle Family Event debacle (addressed by Annie of PhD in Parenting here).

Some blogging friends who are already registered for the conference still plan to attend despite their misgivings, for many reasons, including the fact that they're already committed to their own ethical, responsible sponsors. Some others may drop out. Whatever their reasons, I can understand their decision either way - but I'm frustrated that they have to wrestle with their principles over this matter in the first place.

I am disappointed in BlogHer for choosing such an unethical company to sponsor their main conference in the first place, when so many of their members specifically reject Nestle advertising themselves and participate in the general Nestle boycott, but I hope it's not too late to have an impact on upcoming conferences, including (and especially, for my own purposes) BlogHer Food. I do understand that it may be too late to drop them from the main conference, but if there is a possibility that they may sponsor BlogHer Food as well, I am asking you to please, please reconsider.

Respectfully,

Anne Tegtmeier
Fab Frugal Foodie

*****

Updated to add Annie of PhD in Parenting's full response to this situation.

6 comments:

  1. The thing I don't understand from BlogHer's perspective is that they are already aware that this particular company is a huge problem for many of their bloggers. It's why they created the ability to opt-out of certain ad campaigns in the first place. I don't shop at Wal-Mart and I won't buy my gas from BP or Exxon/Mobile but even folks who do still think Nestle is the worst, most unethical company on the planet. I'm so angry that they've put so many of us in this position (I also heard from Annie that Butterfinger will be added to the sponsor list soon, too, so no, I don't think they'll reconsider.) I just don't feel like I can be ethical and stick to the standards I've created for MYSELF by attending. I just hope I don't have to lose too much money to stand by my convictions.

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  2. Thank you. I think we've been put in a REALLY unfair position. If BlogHer KNOWS that many of their participants (hello - they're throwing a GREEN event this year!) are boycotters, why in the world would they select this partner?

    I think it's a big 'ol slap in the face to Annie, who's built much of career to vocally boycotting this brand, and she's speaking at this conference. They hired her to do that months ago - probably before they teamed up with Stouffers. It never occurred to anyone that would be a conflict of interest?

    It sucks to be put in this situation, but we're handling it the best way we can.

    And for the record, this is NOTHING like attending an event CALLED "NESTLE FAMILY" FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. People can't be held accountable for things tacked on after the fact - and it's not like Nestle wrote the checks to my Visa bill to pay for my flights and hotel.

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  3. It definitely is a very unfair thing to do. I mean, how could they NOT know this was going to be a problem when Annie of PhD is a speaker, and has done prolific, highly visible work on the Nestle issue? It's boggling. Like I said, I completely understand BOTH decisions (to go or not to go). I know it is not an easy choice.

    And I completely agree that this is totally different than the Nestle Family Event. It pisses me off that there are actually people out there essentially going "HA HA, you criticized me for attending the Nestle Family Event, and now you can't go to BlogHer! Neener neener!" I think there are major differences between the two things, though it certainly doesn't excuse BlogHer.

    I'm updating the post to include PhD in Parenting's response to the sitch.

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  4. Thank you for this post Anne. I'm really angry about all of this.

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  5. Just curious if you ever received a response from BlogHer? I did today and it was what you'd expect. I'm just curious if they have an answer for you about BlogHer Food.

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  6. I DID hear from them, in fact. Your timing was spot-on - I didn't get anything as of this morning, but checked again as soon as I saw your comment, and bingo!

    Should I share it in a post, do you think? Much of it was what you'd expect, but she did address my question about BlogHer Food in particular, and it looks like they will NOT be a sponsor for that. I really, really hope that doesn't change.

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