Stouffer’s Sponsors BlogHer 2010. Will They Be Judged?

We were called “shills”.  We were verbally attacked and blocked on Twitter. Our recap posts were riddled with trolls and haters.


Because we attended a Nestle event in Los Angeles.

For the most part, it didn’t matter what our opinions actually were, because in the eyes of the haters and some boycotters, just being at the event made us guilty.  We had the opportunity to question the Nestle USA CEO with the boycotter’s questions, which seemed like the perfect opportunity to bridge the people with the company, but it still wasn’t good enough.  We were  judged and done so quite harshly.

Some of us were even interviewed by the LA Times regarding the Twitter bullying we experienced, and even that went down the toilet.

To put it mildly, I am annoyed and hurt with the treatment we received, still.  I feared that writing this post would open a whole new can of worms and potentially conjure up old issues, but questions must be asked.

Do Nestle boycotters have a problem with Stouffer’s, a Nestle Family brand, sponsoring BlogHer 2010?

For the record, I support Nestle products AND BlogHer.  I am no way offended that one is supporting the other, and I will eat the Stouffer’s lunch at the conference if there is one.  I do not want BlogHer to be attacked for its sponsors and I do not want to ignite drama.  I am simply making a point.

If we were judged for simply being at the Nestle event in LA, will all BlogHer attendees be judged as Nestle supporters as well?

Why or why not?

Does the fact that Nestle provided our travel and accommodations to the event make us any different from BlogHer 2010 attendees who pay to attend a conference that has Stouffer’s as a sponsor?

I do not have a problem with boycotters in general.  Boycott all day long if you’d like, it’s your prerogative, but don’t attack those who disagree.  Have your opinion and express it, but don’t be ugly.  I know there are Nestle boycotters attending BlogHer this year, yet I haven’t heard a lick about this issue. Believe me, I hope it stays that way.

Saying that, I am still trying to figure out why the 18 of us were singled out. Countless other bloggers are often sent to events sponsored by large brands, and most large brands have boycott groups for one reason or another, like Nestle.  We were treated unfairly, and I suppose that comes with the territory of blogging and having a presence online, but I still wonder why we received the biggest backlash.  We were 18 moms and dads, looking to connect and learn more about a brand.  Plain and simple.

Honestly, if it weren’t for my loyal friends and followers support, I wouldn’t have handled it as maturely as I did.  I am grateful for that.

Dying to hear your thoughts.


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Amy Bellgardt

AMY BELLGARDT is a wife and mom of two boys, as well as founder and lead blogger at Mom Spark. Amy also manages Mom Spark Media, a social media marketing firm, as well as a thriving essential oil business.

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138 Responses to “Stouffer’s Sponsors BlogHer 2010. Will They Be Judged?”

  1. #
    oh amanda — May 24, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    oh my. oh my.


  2. #
    Melanie @ Mel, A Dramatic Mommy — May 24, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Someone is always going to find a way to be the Debbie Downer. It’s impossible to make everyone happy. If the only way a person can get their 15 minutes of fame is by slamming someone or something, unfortunately they’ll take that road rather the the high one.


  3. #
    Kellyology — May 24, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I never understand half the drama on Twitter whether it’s negative or supportive drama. I never have. I try to stay out of both. I have enough of the drama dealing with the sibling rivalry of my kids.


    • Mom Spark replied: — May 24th, 2010 @ 4:36 pm

      @Kellyology, I am always the last person to know about internet drama because I honestly don’t pay attention. I’m too busy. I don’t try to start drama, either. In the case of Nestle, I was pulled into it.


  4. #
    ConsumerQueen — May 24, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    I am my own person and I won’t let others tell me what I can and can’t buy. Thats rediculous. Anyone who attacks anyone is no better than the cause they are trying to rally against right? If not worse LOL I love Stouffers and Nestle products. They are a staple in my house. No I was not invited to this event so I’m not just saying that. Seriously? Their lasagna is the best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  5. #
    Shan @ Last Shreds Of Sanity — May 24, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    I have a problem with the bullying as well. Ok so you don’t like the business practices of a particular company? Then EDUCATE people about it. DO NOT call them baby killers because they didn’t know something. Try to start a dialogue about it with the supporters of the boycotted company AND the company themselves.

    When you spew hate, no matter what , you will be seen as a crackpot. Act intelligently and civilly, and you points will be heard.

    It’s REALLY annoying to me when those people act so superior and enlightened, when all they are really doing is bullying.

    Ok that’s MY 2 cents and I wasn’t even at the conference. But myself and another friend got labeled as racists AND baby killers for tweeting out about Oompa Loompas during the Nestle fiasco. Yes, you read that right. We were trying to bring some levity to it in our own twisted sense of humor ways and got bitch slapped for it. BECAUSE WE WERE NOT AS ENLIGHTENED as the elitists.

    THAT was a fun night.

    And I am sure that BlogHer ’10 will have protests. It’s what they do. There is a reason that organizations such as PETA are considered terrorist groups. They can’t act in a civil manner to get their points heard. AND they BULLY. THAT shows maturity, eh?

    I wish all who will have to deal with this luck at BlogHer’10. You’ll need it.

    Now excuse me while I go eat my Stouffer’s Mac N’ Cheese. I’m hungry. And it’s damn tasty. :P


  6. #
    Sky — May 24, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    There are people out there who always get off on name calling and making others feel bad. And you know, I feel sorry for those people. What a sad, sad way to live.

    I think that there is always a time and a place to protest, stand up for what you believe in and practice what you preach…but it must be done respectfully.

    I’ve had the opportunity to work with Nestle through my blog and have nothing but positive things to say, what an awesome group of people! I use there products (always have and always will).

    Just roll with it and most importantly, keep on keepin’ on!


  7. #
    Amanda — May 24, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Not everyone has the same experience with a product or brand. Everyone is entitled to their views, but have a dialogue about them, don’t just try to cram them down people’s throats because you think your way is the right way and the only way.


  8. #
    Donna — May 24, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Hmmm, wonder if any of those people will be at BlogHer that were against the whole Nestle thing??? Things that make you go HMMMMM…..


  9. #
    Condo Blues — May 24, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Oh Honey! There WAS sponsor drama last year! There were many bloggers who were “offended” yes they used the word “offended” that Company X or Y was going to be a sponsor because they didn’t like the company because of X, Y, and Z. To be completely truthful there were some companies that sponsored the event I personally didn’t like either. But I wasn’t “offended” about their right to exist. Now if they changed their ways or formulas that would not give me a rash, I might tolerate their existence a little better though :)

    There were also bloggers who were offended that they got items like toys or children products in the conference swag bag because they weren’t parent bloggers or weren’t a mom (like myself. My kid is a dog.) even when the conference set up swag recycling for those people who ended up with swag that wasn’t a good fit for them. (For the record, I kept a few toys because I have a toy box for nieces and nephews. The rest I donated to Toys for Tots.) Were there sponsors there that didn’t fit me or my blog audience? Absolutely. However there were many I didn’t think were a fit at all that I’ve actually purchased their products with my own money after the conference was over.

    For every person I encountered who was mad or offended about a sponsor there was another who loved that sponsor to pieces. In other words, there were some very upset people who forgot that BlogHer is a conference for women bloggers who blog on a WIDE RANGE of subjects. That being the case there will be a WIDE RANGE of sponsors trying to reach those niche markets. Some you may like and some you may not.

    Speaking of sponsors I didn’t like, last year I had a very interesting and polite conversation with a rep from a company who’s product I didn’t like and I think was valuable to both of us. I never would have had such a productive chat if I opened with,”Your product stinks because it gave me a bleeding rash as a child and my family never, EVER uses your product and it should be stricken from the Earth!” The product hasn’t been changed and I still don’t use it. But I appreciate at least being able to have a civil conversation with someone about it with either of us being “offended.”


  10. #
    Sara at Saving For Someday — May 25, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Thank you for posting this and sharing your insight. The interesting thing about this whole Nestle brouhaha is that it is so old, dating back to 1977. Yet, every year a new group gloms on to this old news and recycles it and continues to spew the same hate and nastiness. If the number of people who are boycotting truly voted with their dollars Nestle would be out of business. But, they don’t. Instead they drink their hatorade and expect everyone else to do the same like they’re Jim Jones and this is Ghanna.

    If they want to boycott Nestle, they shouldn’t go to BlogHer. Instead, though they will try and use it as a platform for themselves. They’ll secretly take the swag all the while saying something completely different.

    Respect and discourse go much further than hate and vitriol. Sadly, it is a reflection of our society and what takes place in the mainstream media. The negativity on TV gives people permission to do the same in their everyday life.


  11. #
    pickel — May 25, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    I still don’t understand the drama over Nestle last year but I love Stouffers products.


  12. #
    Haley — May 26, 2010 at 12:50 am

    I think all the bullying that went on after the Nestle Trip was pathetic, uncalled for, and unfair.

    You make an excellent point when you say that while boycotters should be allowed their opinion, they don’t need to be nasty when expressing it to others.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about why Mom Bloggers are not taken as seriously as other mainstream influential groups and I believe incidents like the one you discuss here may be a contributing factor.

    How can we be taken seriously as a group of professional individuals, when so often that level of professionalism vanishes because of a difference in opinion?

    I for one have no problem with BlogHer or Stouffer’s and will eat at their meal if they provide one during the conference.


  13. #
    jennyonthespot — May 27, 2010 at 1:45 am

    I saw stuff going on (via Twitter), but decided not to give it weight. I have seen too many of these types-of-things go wonky. Highly frustrating. I am amazed educated folks can’t see much of these things for what they have come to be: mob mentality. Not productive… historically proven over and over again.

    As a blogger who has hoped to closely align with a brand, and now will be… these stories make me nervous. Before i said, “Yes” I weighed the “what if” about the displeased consumers who might lie in wait. I decided to say yes to a program/business I am excited about. It doesn’t mean there won’t be *something* that comes up. I hope nothing does. It is just sad that we have come to this point… where one expects and weighs the likelihood of such disappointing behavior from one’s peer group.

    A well, written post…


  14. #
    Mike Brady — May 29, 2010 at 8:24 am

    Baby Milk Action, which promotes the Nestle boycott in the UK, became aware of this Twitter storm because of the traffic to our sites from people posting links to Twitter and blogs on the topic.

    People were trying to raise the awareness of those attending and taking up the offer to put questions. Some people did criticise those who attended for doing so and that was neither helpful nor fair. However, on my reading of the Tweets, most people were taking the opportunity of the #nestlefamily hashtag to raise awareness of Nestlé’s appalling corporate behaviour.

    A phenomena that I have noticed is that those who somehow feel they are compromised by an association with Nestlé then defend the company and attack its critics without actually engaging with the central issue of Nestlé’s baby milk marketing practices and the role the boycott plays in holding it to account.

    I joined the discussion on Twitter and offered to take part in a Tweet debate with Nestlé – this was not taken up. Nestlé runs from scrutiny on this issue. For example, yesterday Nestlé held its Creating Shared Value Forum in London and invited people to submit questions to the panel and to an online discussion – no comments that challenged Nestlé’s portrayal of itself appeared.

    Wherever Nestlé appears there is an opportunity to raise its malpractice and that includes this forthcoming event, so I for one hope that Nestlé is thoroughly embarrassed for showing its face while continuing to violate the international standards for the marketing of breastmilk substitutes.

    Its current strategy is to tell parents and health workers that its formula ‘protects’ babies when it know they are more likely to become ill than breastfed babies and, in conditions of poverty, more likely to die. Baby Milk Action has raised this directly with Nestlé, including at the shareholder meeting last month and it defends this shameful practice, which it says it has rolled out in 120 countries.

    The only way it seems we will stop this is by shaming the company and that includes picketing events where it is a sponsor. Such tactics have worked in the past to stop specific cases of malpractice.


  15. #
    Annie @ PhD in Parenting — May 29, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    I will be attending and speaking at BlogHer. That is a decision I made (and had to make) before I knew who the sponsors would be. I assume you knew that Nestle was sponsoring the Nestle Family event before you agreed to go there?

    In any case, I will not attend any events at BlogHer that are specifically sponsored by Stouffer’s and I also will not stay quiet on my blog, on your blog, on twitter or at BlogHer about my feelings with regards to Stouffer’s.

    I appreciate your post because last time I checked the list of sponsors Stouffer’s wasn’t on it yet. Now that they are, I will be getting more details and deciding exactly what to write and how to act.

    Smiling and saying “Yay Stouffer’s” will certainly not be the option I’ll choose.


    • Mom Spark replied: — May 29th, 2010 @ 10:38 pm

      @Annie @ PhD in Parenting, “I assume you knew that Nestle was sponsoring the Nestle Family event before you agreed to go there?” Is that a trick question? Yes, I was a Nestle consumer.


      • Annie @ PhD In Parenting replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 2:30 am

        @Mom Spark,

        Not intended to be a trick question. I was just trying to point out that I didn’t sign up to attend and speak at the Stouffer’s BlogHer event. I found out afterward that Stouffer’s is sponsoring and will now have to find a way to deal with it.

    • Dagmar Bleasdale replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 1:35 am

      @Annie @ PhD in Parenting,

      I am going to BlogHer for one day, I got my ticket months ago. Stouffer’s being sponsors wouldn’t have made me not go, but as an avid breastfeeding supporter and someone who wants to get away from eating commercial food like Stouffer’s, I’m certainly not going to attend any events related to Stouffer’s.

      Just because I don’t like Stouffer’s or Nestle doesn’t mean I can’t like going to BlogHer.

      Dagmar’s momsense


    • Toni replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 2:03 pm

      @Annie @ PhD in Parenting,

      UMMM isn’t the WHOLE BLOGHER sponsored by Stouffer’s. In that case I assume you will not be attending then correct??


      • Toni replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 2:07 pm

        to add, if they aren’t conference sponsors overall the fact they are sponsoring part of the conference would make them a supporter of Blogher in general and you gave so many of us a hard time for being involved with Nestle (and it’s brands) and now you are too even if indirectly. Seems a bit hypocritical but that’s just my opinion. I shall quiet down now

  16. #
    Candace — May 29, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    I keep hearing that bloggers were bullied. I watched that twitter stream very carefully and of dozens of people involved, I saw maybe two on each “side” get ugly. And every time I ask for evidence that bloggers were bullied, I get the answer that the person making the claim doesn’t have the time to look back through the tweets.

    I am sorry you or anyone else felt bullied. But I am not sorry for questioning Nestle’s corporate practices or the decision-making process of someone who chooses to ally him or herself with one of the single worst corporate citizens. I am different from a number of the others involved in that I am generally more libertarian, more corporate-friendly, etc. But I still draw a line in some places. Asking about where I draw that line and why is not bullying me.

    For example, I support Medela, and I’ve taken some criticism from my peers about this. However, I have never thought of even their more heated debate with me as “bullying”. I really think that word is getting tossed around too much.

    As to Stouffers, this is news to me.

    This issue did come up (attending a conference where one of the sponsors is a brand a person does not feel comfortable with).

    I would not be comfortable with Stouffers using my image or content. If I found out that they were, for example, setting up a branded microsite with all #BlogHer10 hashtags, I would most likely not use that hashtag and encourage other like-minded people to use a different hashtag.

    I would not be comfortable doing anything that might be seen as an endorsement of Stouffers or attending a Stouffers event or promoting Stouffers to my community.

    As of now, with very limited information, I do not think I would boycott the event unless it meant that I was in some way endorsing all sponsors.

    However, I am disappointed to hear that BlogHer feels that this is a good event sponsor.


    • Mom Spark replied: — May 29th, 2010 @ 10:36 pm

      @Candace, By bullying, I mean bullying, no exaggeration. Name-calling, “I can no longer follow you”, you are pathetic, you are a zombie, shill and so on. If I saw a @reply to me with behavior like this, I immediately blocked that person. I had no desire to take a screenshot and save for later. At no point was I trying to convince anyone to see my side of things. The problem wasn’t the Nestle issue as much as how the message was carried out.

      For the record- not all boycotters behaved this way and I appreciated that, regardless of our different views.


      • Candace replied: — May 29th, 2010 @ 11:07 pm

        @Mom Spark, on the rare occasion I saw someone doing this with the #NestleFamily hashtag, I called them out on it. Just like I called out the people making jokes about child labor. If someone sent you messages like that without the hashtag, and it was someone I don’t follow, obviously I would miss it. I’m sorry that people treated you that way. There is no reason that a difference in opinion or perspective has to degenerate into nasty name-calling. In watching the hashtag, this is not what I saw…but obviously some of you became targets for abuse outside of the hashtag. If I had seen it, I would have said something.

        As I would hope you would have if you saw anyone making child labor and slavery jokes.

        I believe that protesting Nestle is important, as is questioning how bloggers can engage with brands. And I am frustrated with what I do see as a naivete about how effective “working within the system” could be with companies that have shown time and time again that they will only do a superficial image-re-vamp and then continue business as usual.

        But I do not believe that it is necessary to be nasty in expressing these thoughts.

        • Mom Spark replied: — May 29th, 2010 @ 11:14 pm

          @Candace, I totally respect and appreciate that, thank you.

  17. #
    Her Bad Mother — May 30, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Ah, interesting. If I were still a practicing social scientist studying social movements, I’d see a case study for a seminar here. What is the nature of consumer protest? What are the responsibilities of groups or individuals who call for boycotts of products or companies, v.v. others who do not boycott those products or companies, and v.v their own actions (or lack thereof)?

    One thing that struck me about some of the debate concerning the Nestle event was that there seemed, at times, very little tolerance of participants’ explanations for why they were attending. Some people said that they were there to ask questions, some said that they’d had no idea of the extent of Nestle’s problematic history before accepting the trip, some said that they wanted to hear what the company had to say… but in many cases, those explanations were rejected and opponents of the event insisted that ANY involvement legitimized Nestle. Which is a totally reasonable protest position to take – it’s a classic position, and one with some philosophic heft – but it requires that its proponents be consistent. If a boycott community holds ANY involvement with a boycotted company as morally/ethically/politically problematic, then that boycott community needs to hold that line, if it is/they are to be consistent. There isn’t any room to parse distinctions and allowances for one’s own case, if one hasn’t allowed such room for others. There simply isn’t. A boycotter or boycott community can’t hold that others benefiting from engagement with a company (or use of a company’s product) is wrong, and then insist that their own such engagement or use is acceptable. Not unless they abandon their original position.

    Anyone who attends BlogHer is benefiting from all of its sponsors, and making use of the contribution of those sponsors. The fact of sponsors is what allows BlogHer to keep conference fees and costs low, and ALL sponsorships contribute to that benefit. It makes no more sense to say that one will avoid the largesse of Stouffers/Nestle by refusing to attend a lunch (sorry, Annie! this isn’t directed specifically at you, although you provided the example) than a tax-evader saying that he avoids benefiting from a government’s tax base by not using certain public services, like social assistance or libraries, while still driving on publicly-subsidized roads. You go to the conference, you benefit. Full stop.

    For me (or anyone), attending and/or speaking at a BlogHer conference that involves sponsorship by companies that I don’t use or don’t fully approve is not morally/ethically/politically problematic if I am not involved in a boycott of those companies and/or if I (or anyone) has not condemned others for supporting company-sponsored events. But MomSpark is right to question anyone who *has* publicly boycotted Nestle and anyone who condemned the Nestle event attendees, especially those who refused to accept those attendees’ explanations of why they were going, but who chooses to attend another Nestle-sponsored event for any reason (in this case, BlogHer) for their own reasons. If one is bad, then so is the other, and insisting that there certain concessions (not attending lunch) that make a difference or that one’s own case is special (already paid for a ticket) is to insist that boycotts – that political and social protest generally – can be adjusted to suit the person, and that runs against the spirit of such protest entirely. To insist otherwise smacks of self-justification: ‘well, it’s not so bad if *I* do it, for *these* reasons…’

    Of course, there’s a simpler point that can be made here: if a protest or boycott community (and/or specific individuals therein) want to make such protest or boycott meaningful – to say nothing of consistent – then the reasonable thing to do is to seize the opportunity to make a statement and assert that they will NOT have anything to do with anything that benefits the company or organization they oppose, and not attend. Meaningful political protest lives or dies on the hard cases – giving up a company’s products is an easy, token form of protest, and has been rightly criticized in the history of social and political movements as a *weak* form of protest, precisely *because* it is easy. The seriousness of protest is measured by the seriousness of the commitment of the protestors, and seriousness is not measured by giving up lunch.

    I’m prattling on here – provoke the latent political scientist in me, and up she rises – so I’ll stop. I want to make it clear, though, that what I said above applies to the relevant protest community – to those demanding boycott of Nestle and those who condemned the attendees of last year’s Nestle event – and not to people outside of that community. I have no problem attending BlogHer – I’ve been a participant and speaker for four years of BlogHers – and I support them fully in making use of sponsors who make it possible for the conference to be accessible to as many women as possible. But I haven’t publicly boycotted any of those sponsors. I tend to avoid public proclamations of boycott for the precise reason that I know that there are so many cases where I simply could not be consistent – conferences like BlogHer being the most visible – and inconsistency in protest, as I said above, renders protest impotent at best, meaningless at worst.

    PHEW. Sorry for the novel! As I said, political scientist buttons, I HAS THEM. Thanks for starting the discussion!


    • Mom Spark replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 11:05 am

      @Her Bad Mother, You said that so beautifully that I am speechless. Thank you for taking the time to chime in, I think we will all benefit from your well-crafted response. Wow.


    • Candace replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 11:33 am

      @Her Bad Mother, If, and this is a big if, a boycotter has an absolute rejection of anything to do with a corporation and refused to listen to any explanation of the #NestleFamily attendees, then, yes, that would be logically consistent.

      However, it is possible to have a more nuanced position and still be logically consistent.

      There is a difference between attending a branded event in the past, knowing that event is branded by that sponsor, allowing your image and your words to be posted as part of a marketing campaign, etc. and attending an event where a brand is one of the many sponsors announced later.

      I can’t speak for the other people who spoke up about the #NestleFamily event. However, I can say that part of the issue I had with the #NestleFamily event was its promotional nature (photos with the Quick Bunny!). My understanding is that several bloggers critical of Nestle were invited. Some could not attend for personal reasons but others chose not to attend precisely because they felt that this was more of an event where they were linking their brand to Nestle rather than simply engaging with Nestle on their own terms.

      Also, several of the people who said they did not know of Nestle’s practices were apparently contacted ahead of time.

      I think there was a way to attend this event eyes wide open–after having taken the time to do the research. What I was troubled by was attendees uncritically repeating Nestle’s “answers” and adding “why would they lie” or “if they were lying, the government would have done something about it so therefore it must be true!”

      You raise a good point…but I don’t personally think that it has to be all one way or the other. But then again, I am not one of the more zealous “boycotters”.


      • Amy replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 11:56 am

        @Candace, I think @Her Bad Mother’s point is that a boycott is not meant to be conditional, or are you saying it is?

        • Candace replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 6:04 pm

          @Amy, I do understand that point…and I could see where Mike Brady, for instance, might have trouble attending BlogHer and being consistent with what he has expressed. Or maybe not.

          There seems to be an idea floating around that those protesting Nestle’s corporate practices were objecting to the idea of engaging with Nestle on any level. What I heard, and what I personally agree with, is that this event was not set up for meaningful engagement. I do think that a blogger who was very clear on Nestle’s practices (more so than I consider myself) could have gone to this event with the intent to engage Nestle about these concerns. However, this event was designed so that the bloggers attending would appear to be “brand advocates” of Nestle.

          So, speaking only for myself now, my personal concern was that bloggers uncritically aligned themselves with a brand–not that they merely spoke with Nestle.

          This is a complex issue and one I think it is entirely fair to raise. There are a number of different approaches that are getting wrapped up together–whether or not you can be a public leader of a boycott and attend an event where one of the sponsors is the boycotted company and whether or not you can publicly question a company’s practice and the people who choose to publicly support that company and still attend the event.

          I do think these are fair questions to ask and I am certainly happy that we are discussing them.

          • Mom Spark replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 7:24 pm

            At no point was I ever asked if I liked or disliked Nestle when they invited me. In other words, we were never asked to come out as a “brand advocate” in any way. It was simply an invitation to connect and learn from the Nestle Family brand directly. To learn. For us to give our opinions, too.

            There was only one blogger who chose not to attend the event. (from what I was told last)

            Like @herbadmother said, there is a disillusion that these events are not work. Believe me, they are not vacations. This is just another element to what many of us do in our blogging careers. Regarding brands, it is important to learn and connect directly from the source and I am very fortunate to have that opportunity as a blogger.

      • Her Bad Mother replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 12:20 pm

        @Candace, I absolutely agree that it’s possible to have a more nuanced position – but nuanced positions still need to be consistent. I noted, for example, that I rarely make public proclamations of boycott – I might restrict my use of products by a certain company, or refuse to endorse a certain company, but I don’t believe that there can be any such thing (any such effective thing) as a partial boycott, and so if I’m not prepared to fully boycott a company, I don’t insist publicly that others should, not least because I might find myself in a position where I do feel okay benefiting from a company (as in the case, say, of a conference sponsorship), and find myself supporting them passively, and such passive support by an avowed boycotter undermines the larger boycott effort.

        If someone has taken a public boycott position against Nestle, but then participates in an event where they benefit from Nestle dollars – as one does when one attends a conference subsidized in whole or in part by Nestle, because BlogHer wouldn’t be possible without sponsor dollars – then one has a problem of both optics and effect (and the two combined). Optics, because one is publicly seen to be benefiting from the company’s sponsorship investment; effect, because such optics undermine the boycott movement as a whole, as I outlined above. Participation says that one thinks it’s okay to benefit from the company under certain circumstances. It’s why companies sponsor events like this. It makes them look good, not least because hordes of participants are passively but nonetheless publicly legitimizing them by accepting their sponsorship. And we are ALL accepting that sponsorship when we attend BlogHer, because the conference wouldn’t take place without that sponsorship.

        I would actually argue that attending a branded Nestle event that was all about Nestle is more defensible than attending a conference sponsored by Nestle if one has boycotted Nestle. In the former case, one donates one’s time – receives little benefit, really, unless you count bunny photo opps and a plane ride as meaningful benefits, but expends one’s own effort (it’s why some bloggers insist that we should be paid for such junkets – they’re WORK) – and has the opportunity to discuss and/or confront Nestle directly. It is, in some respects, the perfect opportunity to engage constructively with a company. With something like a conference, there’s no opportunity for engagement with a sponsor, and it’s all benefit to the participant (a weekend with friends, opportunity for self-promotion, learning experience in panels, etc.) Even if one says, ‘well, I’ll voice my opposition while at the conference’, well, that’s kind of empty, because whatever you say, your actions (accepting sponsorship benefit from the company that makes the conference possible) contradict it. You can speak/protest loudly without attending. Attending lends no force to your protest, but it does undermine it. And again, again: isn’t the strongest, most effective protest here to NOT attend the conference – to NOT benefit in any way from Nestle, and not legitimize their sponsorship – if you oppose the sponsors? In which case, isn’t the onus upon the protester – the protester who wants to be taken seriously – to come up with a really, really, really good reason why they wouldn’t do that?

        I used to teach an upper undergraduate seminar in morality and politics, and the morality and ethics of political protest always provoked a lively discussion, because undergraduates are protesting something. We’d talk about, say, boycotting GE products (GE was a big bad in the 90’s) – was it even possible to boycott them all? Would you accept money or some other benefit from GE? What if they PAID you to use their products? What if you were POOR and they paid you? Where’s the line? I would argue that ‘attend a conference sponsored by INSERT EVIL CORPORATION NAME THAT I HATE AND HAVE DEMANDED BOYCOTT OF HERE because I really, really want to’ is such a line, and it’s interested to consider the justifications for crossing it.

        WOW. I talk a LOT, don’t I?

        • Her Bad Mother replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 12:49 pm

          (And again, I’m talking specifically about people or groups that have publicly demanded boycott of Nestle and its subsidiaries and have criticized others for not doing so. I’m not talking about people who have problems with Nestle and are interested in a variety of forms of protest and/or engagement – *I* have problems with Nestle and am interested in pursuing discussions about what their involvement with BlogHer means for BlogHers who are Nestle-averse. But – AD NAUSEAM ALERT – large-scale public boycott is a particular form of protest that asserts its own terms and needs, I think, to be consistent with those terms if it is to be effective and meaningful.)

          • Mom Spark replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 12:53 pm

            Regardless of which side your views are on, your points are spot on.

        • Candace replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 6:19 pm

          @Her Bad Mother, I do understand your point but I fear it is getting conflated with other forms of protest (not by you) and also that there is an assumption here that those who engaged in discussion on Twitter are “the boycotters.” Yes, the boycott did come up. And, yes, some of those protesting Nestle’s attempt to utilize the social media community to build their image were in fact boycott leaders. But I don’t think that was where the conversation started nor the basis of most of the objections to blogger envolvement.

          The point about attending the Nestle branded event that was set-up to be a photo-op is that the connection is even stronger there. Nestle had a website where the images and words of attendees appeared, listed as Nestle bloggers. I do think that is a meaningful difference.

          Yes, one could go to engage Nestle directly–and that is something a blogger might consider in deciding whether or not to attend. To my understanding, some bloggers did consider that and then saw how the event was set up and decided not to attend because to their eyes it was not set-up to allow that sort of meaningful engagement or that it wasn’t worth the risk of being seen as a “Nestle Blogger”.

          And that meaningful engagement is not what I personally saw happening through either the lens of twitter or the blogger posts afterward.

          As to benefit you make a good point–although I would say that donating time to Nestle is a perplexing decision for me…to each her own. At the same time, these bloggers obviously saw some benefit to themselves for going, even if you don’t. I have only accepted one of these blogger visits because I don’t really think volunteering for large corporations, even one I like, makes a lot of sense. However, some bloggers believe it helps them network, learn, and promote their own “brand”.

          At the same time, by speaking at BlogHer, Annie is benefiting our entire community. And yes, she and others, like me, who are attending must weigh that against the benefit we think will accrue to Nestle or how much it detracts for our own goals in protesting Nestle.

          • Mom Spark replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 7:35 pm

            Curious and asking with total respect: What reason would we have to attend the Nestle event if it weren’t to network, learn, question and give our own feedback? Seriously, what else is the draw? A paid flight? A paid dinner? What else? For some bloggers, going to an event like Nestle is all about the free flight/dinner/hotel, but it’s not for me. I just want to clear that up.

    • Annie @ PhD in Parenting replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 4:47 pm

      @Her Bad Mother,

      Just to clarify, I only mentioned the possibility of a Stouffer’s lunch because Mom Spark mentioned it in her post. It certainly wouldn’t be the start or the end of my protest. Further, I now know that there will be no Stouffer’s lunch.

      With regards to the rest of your post, I’m working on a post for my own blog where I plan to outline my position and what I’m going to do about it.


      • crunchy domestic goddess (amy) replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 7:50 pm

        @Annie @ PhD in Parenting – I look forward to your post.

        Thank you, Amy, Catherine, Annie, Candace and all of you for addressing this. I had no idea that Nestle was sponsoring BlogHer until just recently. As a person who is against many of Nestle’s practices and someone who had long ago signed up to attend BlogHer, I now need to figure out how I’m going to handle it as well.

    • Candace replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

      @MomSpark, sorry…comments won’t nest under yours…

      I am not surprised you were not asked whether you like or dislike Nestle as to my knowledge several bloggers who “avoid” Nestle products or actively boycott them were invited. That does not change the fact that your photograph and words were posted, labeled as a “Nestle Blogger” on their microsite.

      I am under no illusion that these events aren’t work…which is why I choose not to attend 99% of the ones to which I have been invited–I’m attending one because I believe their products may have saved my children’s lives and because it is on the way to a family vacation. That’s a whole ‘nother can of worms.

      I am not accusing you of going for the free meal or whatever (and even if you went to an event for a free meal, if the brand is aligned with your values, if you believe a free meal is worth your time, that’s your business). Rather I am pointing out that those who choose to go believe it has some benefit for them…otherwise why would they go? I don’t think it is out of a spirit of volunteerism since there is no direct charitable connection. Catherine made the point that benefit accrues to BlogHer attendees (networking, learning, being seen)…but just as you said, you believe the same benefit accrues to you for your attendance at Nestle event. My comment was directly in response to her point, not an attack on your character or a questioning of your motives.

      You may have been there to question, learn, and give feedback but the event itself was not designed for a meaningful level of engagement about issues concerning Nestle’s corporate citizenship.

      At the time, I do believe I made several statements that one *could* in theory attend an event sponsored by Nestle to engage with them…but that this event did not sound like it was the right place for a dialog about their ethical practices. So, I do think I am being consistent here.

      Perhaps presciently, I’ve had some discussions with activists online before I knew about Stouffers (it was in regards to Medela) about whether or not they would attend a conference they believe has a good mission if one of the sponsors was a brand about which they had deep concerns. So, I do think this is a great conversation to be having…but it doesn’t change my opinion of the nature of the NestleFamily event.


    • Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 1:18 am

      @Her Bad Mother,
      Have I mentioned lately how much I love you???

      I think you are one of the most brilliant minds I know — virtually AND in real life.

      Reading through all of your comments (and Deb’s – another intelligent woman!) just took my mind on a mental stairmaster.

      I won’t even begin to add my opinion. My mind so pales next to yours. But basically, ya – what she said. (And I appreciate Deb’s thoughts too.)


  18. #
    Deb Rox — May 30, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    To address your central question of whether BlogHer will be judged for associating with Nestle, I think the answer is evident already. Yes, of course they have been judged and will continue to be judged for partnering with Nestle. I’m disappointed that Nestle is a sponsor on two levels, first because of all of the reasons mentioned at length about the corporation’s practices, and secondly because Nestle’s PR work in the blogosphere has been so painful (I hear in your post that you are very hurt), divisive and symbolic of our struggle to reconcile bloggers as brand spokespeople. It’s a shame to invite that to the event. But I trust that BlogHer weighed the risks of that decision and decided they could manage it, just as I’m sure that bloggers who went to the Nestle event performed their own risk management assessment when they made their decision, and protesters did too.

    Like Catherine I’m interested in an analytical framework for what this situation provokes. But I disagree that attending an event that Nestle has contributed to is incongruent with the desire to protest that company. The democratic politics of protest encompass a wide range of tactics and levels of radicalism. In fact, it is commonly understood that effective protest requires a spectrum of activism. From radical disrupters to all levels of boycotters to public policy collaborators to mediators–all are valid, all are important, and none are required to adhere to artificial rules about how rigid or pure they must be in their protest. In fact, requiring that kind of standard is the opposite of democracy because if it is in place, one could never protest parts of a community, government or system while remaining IN the system. What if you were told you needed to silently accept every part of your marriage, your city, your country, cheap oil, any group you belong to or benefit from–or else leave it in order to protest? That’s untenable and unattainable for most. The all-or-nothing if one receives benefits approach to dissent is actually is a way of silencing protest. It shuts down dialogue and change without being a real test of one’s politics or intellectual analysis and personal discomfort with a situation.

    I really wish we didn’t have to have these conversations based on Nestle in our space so soon after their social media gaffes this year, but I know that good will come from prompting us to learn how to disagree as a community. I hope for healthy dialogue where all perspectives have a place.


    • Her Bad Mother replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

      @Deb Rox, I totally agree that attending is not incongruent with protest. It is, however, incongruent with boycott, and with condemnation of others who don’t boycott. I don’t think that there’s such a thing as conditional boycott, especially not when the ‘conditions’ applied confer benefit to the purported boycotter. I think that healthy dialogue about protest – and the vigorousness about protest itself – requires that we examine our motives when we look for justifications for engaging with a company or organization or state that we are otherwise committed to boycotting. Protest can ABSOLUTELY involve constructive engagement. But meaningful and constructive engagement requires consistently taking a hard look at the WHY of such engagement – and requires not applying double-standards to others, which was the original issue here (can those who took a hard line with the Nestle event attendees justify supporting and/or legitimizing Nestle by attending BlogHer while maintaining the consistency of their original position?)

      One can attend BlogHer and have judgments about Nestle and be critical of Nestle while acknowledging that one is, in some way, supporting and legimitizing Nestle by attending without being hypocritical – just as one can be critical of one’s own state while continuing to maintain citizenship thereof. But one cannot, I don’t think, take a hardline position against Nestle and ask that others do the same and then go ahead and benefit from Nestle’s support of the conference and remain politically and ethically consistent – any more than one could retain the citizenship and benefits of citizenship of one’s state and refuse to pay taxes and demand that others do same (and insist that they’re wrong if they don’t) and retain that consistency.


      • Deb Rox replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

        @Her Bad Mother, I’m glad you clarified that you believe “One can attend BlogHer and have judgments about Nestle and be critical of Nestle while acknowledging that one is, in some way, supporting and legimitizing Nestle by attending without being hypocritical.” I get it that you were talking exclusively about hardline boycotting. But the two issues are conflating, and that’s what I mean about what happens when purity standards are set to any protest form. For example, see Chrisy’s comment below: “I agree with Her Bad Mother. Anyone who attacked the Nestle bloggers should, if they are at all true to message, skip BlogHer. ” That’s not what Her Bad Mother is saying. “Attacking,” (i.e verbal protest) is being confused with hardline boycott (which was not the majority of anti-Nestle activity), and so people feel justified in pushing back to all protesters. If that is what Christy believes, good for her for saying so, but it’s NOT what I understand Her Bad Mother to be saying. Separate from this, there’s also a huge case within the politics of boycott to be made for not letting the object of protest disenfranchise via funding. Does one not watch TV read any newspapers, for example, because all media airs Nestle ads? In that case Nestle’s purchasing power is cutting off a boycotter’s access to media. Or in this case to BlogHer. Lots to think about/talk about/analyze. Let’s make sure the messages are not misconstrued. Catherine seems to be talking about deep economic boycott only.

        • Her Bad Mother replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 4:35 pm

          @Deb Rox, yes, I’m talking about deep boycott, especially that which demands that participants take a hard line without exception. And in the case of the Nestle event that Mom Spark refers to here, there was, in many corners, an unwillingness to allow that any engagement through that event could be meaningful, and there were demands that bloggers simply not attend or lose credibility. As I said above, that position can be meaningful and effective – as can deep economic boycott – but it needs to be consistent and accountable. So, in the case of anyone who condemned the Nestle event attendees or who demanded total public boycott, there is an onus upon them to provide excellent answers to questions about the consistency of their position.

          I would very much prefer that no-one boycott BlogHer, obviously, and that this be used as an opportunity to discuss the ways and means by which we can have constructive discourse in our community about political action and ethics and economics and the like. I do hope, however, that it also provides an opportunity to reflect upon and find peace about conflicts like that surrounding the Nestle event and the larger economic boycott, and the judgments that we make about each other when we don’t see eye to eye on how to ‘do’ politics.

          (I would add in response to Christy’s statement, that I *don’t* think that anyone who condemned the Nestle bloggers for not boycotting that event should *necessarily* boycott the BlogHer conference. I *do* think that they should be able clarify why, if they do not boycott BlogHer, there’s any kind of meaningful difference, and why the world should continue a deep economic boycott of Nestle while some exercise conditionality within that boycott. And if there’s no difference, per the former – and the purpose of my arguments above was to show why I think that there’s not, and that if you insist that meaningful engagement and keeping a clear ethico-political conscience is possible in one case, you must allow that it is/was possible in the other – then they should acknowledge that, and loosen up on the judgment of people who do politics differently.)

          • Mom Spark replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 7:37 pm

            Totally agree. Again. :)

    • Mom Spark replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

      @Deb Rox, I understand your point that “The democratic politics of protest encompass a wide range of tactics and levels of radicalism.” I totally get that. However, not attending a Nestle-sponsored BlogHer is in no way “unattainable for most”. If someone chooses not to purchase Nestle products and/or judge those who do support Nestle, why on Earth would it ever be okay to attend a Nestle-sponsored event?

      Also, it wasn’t Nestle that hurt me, it was specific individuals in our own community.


  19. #
    Christy — May 30, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    First of all, I agree with Her Bad Mother. Anyone who attacked the Nestle bloggers should, if they are at all true to message, skip BlogHer. Our attendance is subsidized by sponsors so you benefit from that company just by being present. Skipping lunch is, at that point, merely convenient protesting. Then again, Iwon’t be on the lookout for hypocrites at BlogHer. I’ll be worrying about my own self (to borrow my 4-yr-old’s phrase).

    What upset me about the Nestle nightmare was that people lost sight of the principle that we should attack the idea, not the person. I was disgusted by some of the behavior that went on during that time and have lost total respect for several people who were involved. It is simply immature, unprofessional and counterproductive to attack people on that level, especially given the circumstances. I don’t see how you can protest unethical behavior by companies by acting in such an ugly way. Pot calling kettle and all that…


  20. #
    Neil — May 30, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    The question that no one seems to be asking is why would BlogHer ask a company so controversial in their own community to be a sponsor when I am sure there are plenty of others willing to sponsor it instead?


    • Mom Spark replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

      It’s not an issue for me, but I see your point.


    • Beth replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 2:50 pm

      @Neil, way to point out the, um, chocolate bunny in the room, Neil. I wonder the same thing.


    • Kellyology replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 2:56 pm

      I have been wondering that very question myself. Perhaps that falls under the belief that all publicity is good publicity, even if it’s bad publicity. Though I have to say that wherever you find a large company/sponsor, there are going to be people who hate and protest that sponsor. I know Walmart was a sponsor at last year’s BlogHer, and there is a large group if people who are deeply offended by their business practices. I think when gathering necessary sponsors for conferences such as these, there is no such thing as the perfect, right sponsor. Perhaps this is the angle that BlogHer was coming from when choosing their sponsors this year. @Neil,


    • Her Bad Mother replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 4:43 pm

      @Neil, I think that it’s an open question as to whether there were ‘lots’ of other companies willing to contribute significantly to underwriting a conference like BlogHer. A conference like BlogHer costs a LOT of money, especially when that conference is trying to limit the amount of on-site marketing, etc. BlogHer works very hard – especially after last year – to limit the intrusiveness of sponsors, and to maintain a culture of openness and freedom wherein no sponsor can set the terms of discussion or limit debate (you can bet that BlogHer will fully support open discussion of peoples’ disagreements with sponsor choices, as they’ve always done). That makes things a tougher sell.

      End of the day, BlogHer’s objective (as I understand it, as a devoted BlogHer) is to maintain the highest standards of accessibility, so that the conference is affordable and open to as many women as possible. That costs money. And, as Kellyology noted, there’s the problem of simply not being able to win – there are few (if any) viable sponsors who would provoke *no* grumbling (Wal Mart, GM, Weight Watchers, even the silly ‘diet water’ company of 2006 – almost every sponsor has provoked criticism), and eliminating sponsors on that basis would leave them with a conference held at a HoJo with a ticket cost of eleventy bajillion dollars. And no parties.


      • Neil replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 5:11 pm

        @Her Bad Mother,

        Catherine — LIke you, I’m not an advocate of boycotts, and I think it is great that Blogher keeps the costs of the conference so low. I have seen some of the other conferences that cost $1000 or more! However, WalMart and GM involve issues that more abstract and general rather than one so dear (and controversial) to women — as the one with Nestle, babies, and formula. I’m not taking sides in the issue. I use Nestle products. I was just curious why BlogHer would want to risk the discomfort to the conference unless it is necessary? If mommybloggers are the biggest thing since Wonder Bread, aren’t there other sponsors lining up?

        By the way, C, you are the smartest person since… well, the guy who invented Wonder Bread.

        • Neil replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 5:17 pm


          Commenting to myself, because I just looked at a list of products under the Nestle name. And this made me pause. And maybe be a little wishy-washy. Have you seen HOW MANY products are under the Nestle name? Some of the most popular products that women might use in the kitchen or for the family. That certainly makes it tough. We’re talking about the Raisinets you might eat at the movie theater.

          I’m not changing my view, but just noting how difficult it would be to avoid all of these products when looking for sponsors.

          • Mom Spark replied: — May 30th, 2010 @ 7:24 pm

            Yes, Neil. Huge list of brands that many do not know about it.

  21. #
    MBrady — May 30, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    @Annie @ PhD in Parenting

    I appreciate your predicament. It reminds me of the situation Stephen Lewis, then Executive Deputy Director of UNICEF, found himself in when invited to be the key-note speaker at a nutrition event in Canada, only to find later it was sponsored by Nestlé and other formula companies.

    He decided it would have more impact to attend and raise the unethical behaviour of the companies in his speech and say he thought their sponsorship of the event was inappropriate. See:

    On the other hand, picketing events and/or entering to raise critical questions can raise awareness amongst people who didn’t know about the issue – and we generally assume people who have agreed to participate in Nestlé events have done so through ignorance of the issues or because they have accepted Nestlé’s line without investigation. As an example, a UK Government Minister distanced himself from Nestlé when its malpractice was raised at a party conference. See:

    A few year’s ago we handed letters to Members of Parliament, church and business leaders and other VIP guests as they entered a prestige Nestlé event, called its ‘development lecture’ – that year on the theme of malnutrition. This provided an opportunity for the guests to put the issues we raised direct to the CEO of Nestlé (UK). You may have heard Nestlé say it likes people to put questions – but they cancelled the event the following year:

    To bring it up to date, as mentioned in my post above, we have a share to attend the Nestlé shareholder meeting to raise questions directly with the board of directors before other shareholders and also organise events on Nestlé’s doorstep. As this film clips shows, although the boycott stops some malpractice, the company is always coming up with new ways to undermine breastfeeding to boost sales of its baby milk – the latest being its claim that its formula ‘protects’ babies:

    It’s not just Nestlé, of course. When Wyeth organised a training day for health workers we also leafleted people at that, pointing out that Wyeth had just received a criminal conviction for breaking UK baby milk marketing laws.

    So inside or out, there should be opportunities to make a whole lot more people aware of Nestlé malpractice. I will gladly help with preparing a leaflet tailored to the event.


  22. #
    niri — May 30, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    I am a strong advocate of breast -feeding but have used Nestle too.

    @Neil – I agree, easier to pick on bloggers (many of which are not raking it in) to than BlogHer. Yes, there are many companies that would not be on the ‘fav’ list of bloggers, but come on you have to be blind to take a company that that obviously been a sore point on the web. I feel that the issue with a company should be taken with a company. I do feel that BlogHer could (and should) have avoided placing many bloggers in this predicament – so close to the game.

    @Annie – I understand the debacle. We fight for causes that are no joke and I am unsure how I would react if I were you. Let it be known that I would not think you are any less even if you attended the conference or even a lunch. Things are not always as black and white. You using the platform, whatever it is to get the message across is important. It is important for people to always have their platform to question things.

    @MomSpark – Amy – I am glad you brought this up. So easy the “little” (not being offending here) guys are easier targets rather than a big group. Sad that people find a good and civilized way to get the message across. When I visit a brand I am not an advocate or ambassador – but I would hate anyone thinking they have a right to judge me.

    That being said I am in favor of boycotts. How could I not? I come from South Africa and I saw apartheid crumble before my eyes in part because of boycotts.


  23. #
    Elizabeth @ Table for Five — May 30, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    I was part of a group of bloggers who went to Nestle Headquarters in Ohio to discuss the launch of “Let’s Talk Dinner”. I was invited to the Los Angeles Event but it conflicted with my already-planned trip to IZEAfest.

    So, I’ll be walking up to the Stouffer’s booth at BlogHer and introducing myself as one of “their” Moms.I buy Nestle products, and I buy Stouffers products. Every PR person and Nestle employee I’ve worked with has been nothing but professional.

    Walmart was a sponsor last year and I don’t remember anyone saying they were selling their ticket to protest Walmart’s business practices.


  24. #
    Brenna — May 30, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    What an interesting conversation! I am not attending BlogHer and was not aware of the sponsorhip from Stouffer until now, so I appreciate this post in letting many of us know.

    I have written and rewritten this comment, and really would rather not ramble so I am going to keep it short.

    I believe that this is something that people need to consider when thinking about attending any sponsored event.

    I think there are a lot of subtleties involved here that need to be explored.

    I think judgment, though unfortunately likely, needs to be withheld no matter what hurt feelings there might be.

    No one has the right to be a bully.

    No one is perfect.


  25. #
    Adventures In Babywearing — May 30, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    I was invited to the Nestle event and although I didn’t necessarily boycott Nestle at the time, I knew EXACTLY what was going to happen (the Twitterstorm, blog uproar)- and no way did I want to put myself in that situation.

    I am to this day still SO disappointed that those attending were not forewarned about what was going to happen, because the people at Nestle TOTALLY knew. They knew why I declined, and that was weeks before the event. Whether the online reaction was wrong or right, I would hold Nestle family responsible for not preparing you for the heartache.

    And for those that wanted to attend in order to ask questions for the skeptics and boycotters, as far as I know, attendees were NOT being paid to be investigative reporters, and if I remember correctly, not paid at all.

    As for being a sponsor to BlogHer, I think true boycotters should stick to their word. Isn’t that how you make the most difference?



    • Mom Spark replied: — May 31st, 2010 @ 10:35 am

      @Adventures In Babywearing, The Twitterstorm happened before we left for the event, so any one of us could have changed our minds and stayed behind, but we didn’t. We did know what we were getting into by going, but that made it even more of a reason to go. To speak directly with the CEO of Nestle USA made more sense (to me anyway) than staying behind in fear of backlash. Saying that, I don’t mean any disrespect to you and I understand why you chose not to go.

      No, we were not paid to go to the event or be “investigative reporters”, and I’m glad you brought that up. There was certainly a huge responsibility put on us to ask specific questions, etc., but that is okay because that is part of the reason why we went. (at least for me)

      As for your last sentence, yes, I agree. The boycotter’s actions will truly show how much the Nestle boycott means to them and maybe they will even look at the way we were treated with more compassion than before.


  26. #
    Marcela — May 31, 2010 at 7:02 am

    Thanks so much for writing this post. I was unaware that Stouffers was a sponsor. Actually, I was also unaware it was part of the Nestle family, I don’t buy products like these. I just printed a list, thanks @Neil, of all the products.
    Theres a whole lot, I don’t like what Nestle does, that said, I try my very hardest not to buy anything associated with them.

    Niri, I like what you say, visiting a brand, does not necessarily make you a brand advocate or ambassador. It’s not right to judge others.

    I do speak my thoughts and let people that might not know, about Nestle’s practices. I do not, treat them badly or disrespectfully but always offer a similar (differend brand) product if possible.

    I respect everyones thoughts, but obviously have my own.

    I agree with Steph above, the company should have warned bloggers.

    I also agree with @Neil. There are a whole lot of companies Blogher could have worked with, making the decision to work with Stouffers was probably not the best one.


  27. #
    Marcela — May 31, 2010 at 7:13 am

    One more thing, my personal thoughts are that true boycotters that have loudly criticized others for attending events should not go to Blogher.


  28. #
    MBrady — May 31, 2010 at 8:46 am

    I’ve written a blog on this issue which can be seen at:

    Here is an extract responding to some of the comments posted here.

    Some say that it is a simple fact of life that it takes money to organise events and any sponsor could be criticised by someone, so just take the money and do good with it. Which brings to mind the stance taken by the Indian Academy of Paediatrics, which has refused sponsorship by Nestlé or any other company involved in infant nutrition since 1997, taking the view that it was better to pay for their own meals than compromise their independence. The Academy argued against all such sponsorship for health workers and this was introduced in legislation in 2003

    If the Indian Academy of Paediatrics can find other ways to hold its meetings, surely it is not beyond the imagination of bloggers in the US to put in place an ethical funding policy for their events?

    With regards the boycott, every little helps and the way we promote it is intended to make it as easy to support as possible. We target Nestlé’s flagship product, Nescafé, while publishing a list of major brands so people can avoid the whole lot, which obviously has more impact. We produce ‘Nescafé – No Thanks’ cards that people can leave where Nescafé is sold requesting an alternative option.

    We promote International Nestlé-Free Week at the end of October (encompassing Halloween, which is a big chocolate event in some countries) so that people who do not usually boycott can be asked to avoid Nestlé confectionery during that week. Those that normally only boycott Nescafé are asked to boycott all Nestlé products for the week. So when people say they have been given pause for thought because Nestlé makes such and such a product, that is not an argument for doing nothing, but an excuse.

    In the BlogHer debate, some are saying that those who support the boycott should not go to the Conference. Everyone has to make up their own mind – Baby Milk Action certainly doesn’t dictate. There is also a difference between speakers who will be seen to endorse Nestlé if they share a platform with company spokespeople or are surrounded by branding and someone who sits in the audience to listen, learn and perhaps question.

    Nestlé sponsorship provides an opportunity for campaigners and it is as valid to attend to raise awareness and question Nestlé’s involvement. Do not forget that following the Twitter disaster last year, Nestlé is embarking on a strategy to improve its image in cyberspace and sponsoring bloggers and their events is part of that strategy. It is already reportedly paying celebrities US$10,000 per Tweet to say nice things about the company.

    It is also worth recalling that when Mark Thomas, a British comedian and investigative reporter, exposed Nestlé, they went digging through his past looking for any links with the company. Mark obtained company documents on him using the data protection act and found a memo saying that if they could find he had advertised a company product they could attack him for hypocrisy for speaking out.

    I’m happy to continue the discussion here, but don’t want to overload the comments section, so see the Baby Milk Action site if you want the full article.


  29. #
    Candace — May 31, 2010 at 10:13 am

    I wanted to put a couple of thoughts out there and then I have to concentrate on a deadline and I will be on vacation after that. But I promise that I am thinking very deeply about all the very excellent points that have been made on here.

    My initial reaction is that attending BlogHer10 with Stouffers as one of many sponsors of the conference, announced after all of us have purchased our tickets, is different than going to a brand event for Nestle. I don’t know that I could point to a single issue that is a litmus test for whether I would or would not attend an event or speak at it but I do think that it has something to do with how closely my actions are being associated with the brand and/or helping the brand and how passionately I am against the brand.

    My second reaction is to wonder if this is all just a rationalization because I do truly want to go to my first BlogHer conference.

    My third reaction is to question why BlogHer would place its speakers, and even its attendees, in this position knowing that Nestle and its subsidiaries are a hot-button issue for many in the community especially after the #NestleFamily twitter issue. I hope non one thinks that I am not considering BlogHer’s role in this simply because I have focused on Amy’s points about attending bloggers.

    I also find myself in the position as someone who tweeted (and I fully acknowledge I have put myself in this position) to have to defend or disown any negative comments made during the #NestleFamily twitter event. It unfortunately makes my comments longer.

    Those making negative comments about Nestle during the event include those who only commented on #NestleFamily, those who engaged respectfully with attendees, those who generally had good points to make but stepped over the line in doing so, and those who attacked others. They include people like Mike Brady who have been deeply connected with the boycott for a long while to concerned lactivists to human rights activists to anti-corporate protesters, to people who wished to push back against Nestle’s move into the social media space, to random trolls who just enjoy attacking people.

    Catherine has been very clear she is talking about people who publicly insist on an absolute boycott. Others have been conflating these people in the comments.

    Although I was not someone calling for an absolute boycott, nor was I hurling insults at people, I was disappointed in what I perceived as a lack of critical thinking about what it means to accept an invitation from a brand and be associated with that brand and also the nature of corporate PR and marketing.

    So, to be consistent, this standard has to apply to me, too. Unlike the NestleFamily attendees, I have the advantage of time. I’m going to spend some time reading and thinking.

    Thank you, Amy, and to all the commenters who have raised good points both against and in favor of attending for those who object to Nestle’s practices.


    • Mom Spark replied: — May 31st, 2010 @ 10:50 am

      @Candace, I think you are expressing what most Nestle protesters/boycotters are thinking right now. I am sure there are protesters/boycotters that had planned on attending BlogHer and now they simply do not know what to do. In my opinion, a true stand would be not attending, especially after the past actions of the Nestle event attendees last September.

      Saying that, everyone has the right to do as they wish. I am not going to verbally attack or name call any boycotter who decides to go to BlogHer this year. The reason for this post wasn’t to sway a boycotter either way, but to simply make the point known.


  30. #
    Adventures In Babywearing — May 31, 2010 at 10:47 am

    I haven’t read all the comments here so I’m not sure if someone has already mentioned this, but I am confused as to why people are acting surprised that Stouffers/Nestle is a sponsor of Blogher. Hasn’t Blogher ads been running Nestle ads for a while? It’s not like this is news or anything.



    • Adventures In Babywearing replied: — May 31st, 2010 @ 10:52 am

      And I don’t mean to imply that your post isn’t news, I think you make a very good point here. I just mean news to all the people that might seem to start backpedalling now…



    • Mom Spark replied: — May 31st, 2010 @ 10:55 am

      @Adventures In Babywearing, I’m not sure about the past relationship with BlogHer and Nestle, but I did find it interesting that true boycotters didn’t research the sponsors of the conference, even after they purchased their tickets or committed to go. Before my post, there was no talk that I could find regarding Stouffer’s, and BlogHer has been linking their sponsor page in their newsletters and on their website for some time now.


      • Jake Aryeh Marcus replied: — May 31st, 2010 @ 1:25 pm

        No Nestle company was listed as a sponsor when tickets went on sale. I bought my ticket then and as of hearing today that Stouffers/Nestle is a primary sponsor (as opposed to sponsoring an internal event that could be boycotted), I think I have no choice but to boycott the conference. I have written to the conference organizers and am awaiting a response.

        Given that one speaker was asked to speak in large part because of her writing about Nestle’s controversy, I join those asking how Blogher could have then accepted this sponsorship. It puts many people in an untenable position.

      • Annie @ PhD in Parenting replied: — May 31st, 2010 @ 3:22 pm

        @Mom Spark,

        As far as I know, all speakers were confirmed and tickets were sold out before any sponsors were announced. The Stouffer’s one certainly hasn’t been up there for very long and there is another one yet to be added to the list (Butterfinger, also a Nestle brand). BlogHer could conceivably add 20 more sponsors that I completely disagree with before the conference even starts.

    • Candace replied: — May 31st, 2010 @ 10:58 am

      @Adventures In Babywearing, Yes, and they received push-back on that and created an opt-out of non-WHO compliant ads based, my understanding is, in large part on Annie’s expressed concerns. Plus, as you know, many BlogHer members are not running BlogHerAds or even eligible to do so. Another reason they should have known that it would create a difficult situation at a community event where people cannot “opt-out”.


  31. #
    TheFeministBreeder — May 31, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    I wasn’t one that participated in the Twitter Stream during the scandal, but I watched it, and wrote about it. I saw many people feeling attacked, and some people saying some stupid things, but that’s going to happen no matter what the topic. There are idiots involved in any public debate. Does that make the rest of us wrong? NOPE! But those idiots do sure make a good scapegoat for all the people with their fingers in their ears.

    Would I sign up to attend an event that I specifically knew was going to be sponsored by a corporation who tells non-stop lies and contributes to the deaths of many? Nope – not a chance. I, however, have already accepted over $2,000 in LEGITIMATE sponsorship dollars from my personal sponsors to attend the BlogHer conference, and am contractually obligated to be there now. There is no getting out of it without attorneys and lots of money. Is it fair to call me a hypocrite? It’s not as though I KNEW this would happen before I signed on the dotted line.

    Thankfully I’ll be there promoting products that work AGAINST Nestle – so that’s my little way of sticking it to the man.

    But the whole thing only makes me hate Nestle more, and makes me wonder why BlogHer would accept a sponsor that most of their “GREEN” publishers won’t even allow on their sites? I can’t imagine what the 3 Green Angels think of this! All it does is gross me out more. We can’t get away from Nestle, and that very thought ought to terrify people more than anything. A corporation with this much control doesn’t sit well with me. One day, people will look back on Nestle’s business practices the way we look back at the owners of the Triangle Shirt Waist factory. And the little people boycotting one product at a time are going to be the ones to make that happen.


  32. #
    TheFeministBreeder — May 31, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    And, FTR, I was intensely annoyed that Type A Mom was sponsored by Chick-Fil-A just two weeks after a mother was kicked out of a Chick-Fil-A for breastfeeding her baby. However, I didn’t fault anyone for still attending the conference. It’s not like I expected people to eat plane fair and conference passes just because the company acted like douchebags. However, I am endlessly surprised that BlogHer can’t find anybody better to partner with than a company that many of their publishers Opt-OUT of advertising. Seriously BlogHer? It never occurred to you that this would annoy some of the very people you invited to speak? Are you that hard up for cash?


  33. #
    Casey — May 31, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    The difference is nestle family was a commercial for their products. BlogHer is a blogging conference w a controversial sponsor. I’m surprised you can’t see the difference.


  34. #
    Elita @ Blacktating — May 31, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    I think it’s quite obvious that they will be judged. Several people have already written them to ask them to please rethink this sponsorship. I have known that BlogHer had a relationship with Nestle in the past (they ran ads for Nescafe) but I was able to opt out of that campaign and didn’t benefit from it. I also opt out of ads for bottles and infant formula because I am opposed to the marketing of those products. There is no way to “opt out” of benefiting from Nestle’s sponsorship of the conference except to not go. I wish I had known about this before buying a ticket. Now I’m left making a decision that doesn’t make me feel like a hypocrite but also doesn’t leave me out hundreds of dollars with nothing to show for it, another huge difference between this and the Nestle Family event. If any of the bloggers had decided at any point not to go, they would have been out nothing. I’ve already paid for my ticket and hotel room.


    • Amy replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 2:55 pm

      @Elita @ Blacktating, I suppose it depends on how much you want, or don’t want to support Nestle. If you feel strongly and passionately about the boycott, I would think any amount of money would not sway you or other protestors/boycotters.

      I don’t mean that to sound disrespectful at all, I am just trying to understand the gray reasoning/logic from those who were very black & white last September towards us.


      • Beth replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

        @Amy, I’m with you. I watched this thing from the sidelines last fall and was appalled by it. But I’m more appalled now by the fact that their money isn’t going where their mouths were.

        I think it’s easy to take a principled stand when it doesn’t cost you anything, but so much harder to do when it does. The rationalizing that I’m seeing almost makes me laugh except for the fact that I know no one is going to cause these folks the amount of pain and embarrassment you were caused last fall. For that, I am sorry.

        • Amy replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 3:19 pm

          @Beth, I appreciate that, Beth.

          What this post and responses have showed me is that some (not all) of the boycotters are really not boycotters at all. A relief in some ways, but confusing in other ways.

        • Annie @ PhD in Parenting replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 3:22 pm


          Until 3 days ago, I had a free ticket to BlogHer and otherwise have no “out of pocket” expenses. I haven’t purchased my plane ticket yet and while I do have a hotel reservation, I’m 100% sure there are plenty of people who would take it off my hands.

          Now, I am planning to donate $600 (the actual cost of my “free” ticket to BlogHer) to charities that work to battle the evil business practices of Nestle.

          I would be much less “out of pocket” if I chose to sit on my rear at home and tell the world how ethical I am. Instead, since there is no perfect solution, I made the decision that I think will have the most impact on the Nestle protest, which is to attend BlogHer, protest their presence there, create awareness about the boycott and encourage other women to become change agents.

          If the cost of that is a few Nestle Family bloggers and their friends calling me a hypocrite, I can suck that up. Knock yourselves out. Having other people tell me what to do and what to say always makes for good blog fodder.

          • Mom Spark replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 3:42 pm

            I’m interested in knowing how you will protest their presence there and create awareness at the conference. I’m really trying to understand the logic, truly, but I’m having trouble. I think the $600 charity is a nice gesture, but I’m not sure how it negates the Nestle sponsorship?

        • Annie @ PhD in Parenting replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 3:52 pm


          This reply is to Amy (Mom Spark), not Beth, but no way to nest comments further.

          How will I protest their presence and create awareness? I am working on plans with other anti-Nestle advocates. Were you interested in joining us?

          I think the $600 charity is a nice gesture, but I’m not sure how it negates the Nestle sponsorship?

          It doesn’t negate it (only BlogHer can do that by cancelling their contract and I wish they would). But it is an attempt to put more money into good things than bad companies are putting into my attendance at BlogHer. It isn’t a perfect solution, but there isn’t a perfect solution to this crappy situation.

          • Mom Spark replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 4:30 pm

            Heh, no, not interested in protesting at all, but wanted to know what you were thinking about doing and if you would make the BlogHer organizers aware beforehand? I honestly do not know the rules of protesting or boycotting a sponsor at the Blogher conference and am quite curious. I would also want to know if it would be something intrusive to non-protesting attendees in any way.

        • Candace replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 4:13 pm

          @Beth, This is in response to your comment below, not this one, but the comments won’t nest further.

          It really isn’t fair to tar all “anti-Nestle” tweeters as bullies or as having “attacked” the attendees or as having a specific ideology or being “black and white” about the issues. Each person has to be consistent within her own declarations.

          The #NestleFamily attendees are easily identified so they are saved from this. I can point to plenty of hateful things “pro-Nestle” people said but I won’t attribute them to people who did not say those things.

          If you are going to call someone out as a hypocrite, you need to show exactly what that person said or did that is in contradiction with what they are now saying or doing.

          I don’t recall Elita bullying anyone. And it also sounds like she is leaning towards not going right now. Sounds consistent to me.

          As to Annie, I read her post and I think she is making a decision consistent with what she has said in the past.

          Note that no one is saying, “how dare this point be raised? how dare you ask questions?” In fact, the anti-Nestle people here who are commenting thus far seem to be very respectful and interested in having this conversation.

          Whether or not you will ever believe that any decision to go amounts to anything more than rationalization, you can’t say there isn’t a willingness to consider and discuss these issues.

          I personally see substantive differences between the two events…whether or not the differences are enough to allow someone who disagrees with Nestle (on whatever level) to attend, that is the real question for me.

      • Elita @ Blacktating replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 3:15 pm

        @Amy, Oh, come on, you paid nothing out of pocket to go to Nestle. There is a huge difference between that and someone who has already come out of her own pocket hundreds of dollars to attend an event. When I paid my money in good faith, there was no reason for me to believe there would be a conflict of interest. If I hadn’t paid a cent, there would no discussion at all. Thankfully I spoke to the person I was supposed to room with and she agrees that she doesn’t want to be involved with this at all and canceled our hotel room and immediately sent me back my money. So thankfully I am able to untangle myself financially and I won’t be there. Some others aren’t that lucky. My roommate is someone I like and respect, what if she had professional obligations (sponsorships, etc) and had to attend? I wouldn’t have been a good friend if I’d left her without a roommate. There are much more shades of gray in this situation than there were at NestleFamily.

        • Amy replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 3:22 pm

          @Elita @ Blacktating, The big difference between my situation and yours is that I didn’t have an issue with Nestle, before, during or after the event, so money was never an issue. Saying that, I was out of pocket for misc. travel fees, babysitting and work missed, if that makes a difference..

        • Beth replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

          @Elita @ Blacktating, for you because you have an issue with Nestle. For someone who doesn’t have an issue with Nestle, there was never an ethical dilemma to go on the trip, but I can surely see why they’d think there’s a black and white issue here. Especially given the way they were all attacked for going. I know you don’t see it, but that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?

          You guys set up the construct and you guys set the terms of the construct (including the bullying and ridicule — I honestly don’t remember if you participated in it or not, so call this a general you for the anti-Nestle crowd rather than a specific you), but now that the construct is being turned back on you, it’s not as comfortable. And it shouldn’t be.

  35. #
    Annie @ PhD in Parenting — May 31, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    I just posted my thoughts and plans on my blog:


    • Mom Spark replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 10:25 am

      @Annie @ PhD in Parenting, Just read your post.

      Overall, I think your desire to connect, teach, and bond within the blogging community at BlogHer outweighs your dislike for Nestle. If this weren’t the case, you simply wouldn’t attend a known Nestle-sponsored event. It’s actually very refreshing to hear.


      • Jake Aryeh Marcus replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 10:51 am

        @Mom Spark, For someone who purports to be deeply traumatized by snark, you show great willingness to engage in it. Is the last line in the comment anything more that ” na na nana na”? These are serious issues and whether or not I agree with her, Annie is attempting to deal rationally with a difficult situation not of her making.

        • Amy replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 11:18 am

          @Jake Aryeh Marcus, I’m not intending to be snarky at all? Being totally honest here and mean no respect by that comment. It IS quite refreshing to hear.

  36. #
    Andrea @ — June 1, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    This will be interesting. When we were called how many names in the book for attending the #NestleFamily event for our own reason??

    Annie, I don’t understand your reply to Amy. Of course we knew Nestle was in charge of our event. It was a Nestle Family event. We could have backed out at anytime during the event too. I’m confused??

    Again, I will ask everyone who wants to spew hate and negativity: what positive changes are you doing to ensure that the issues that against Nestle are not happening? What can YOU as a single person do to make things better? Don’t blame Nestle, or any other corporation, at the end of the day because of how they allegedly marketed whatever illegally.

    I don’t know if there are stages of boycottism (is that a word)? Because, maybe there is a stage that says it’s OK to attend an event to speak even though the company you boycott is a sponsor. But, does that hurt your cause and your influence?

    BTW, I went on a trip to the Dominican Republic recently (as did Amanda). We didn’t see any Nestle formula marketing. And, when you are in a a country with such malnutrition, HIV/Aids, and terminal illness, breastfeeding is encouraged. It doesn’t take any amount of education to know that: you see women doing that everywhere! And, it is the women in the community that offer that support, and perhaps some other organizations (like World Vision who we were on a trip with).


    • Candace replied: — June 2nd, 2010 @ 2:06 pm

      @Andrea @,

      First, I want to say that going on a humanitarian trip is very admirable.

      I looked up breastfeeding rates at UNICEF. 9% of children exclusively breastfed (<6 months), which is abysmal. 62 % of children (2003–2008) ar breastfed with complementary food (6–9 months) . Not ideal, but better than the United States. Research shows that increasing those rates would help a country dealing with disease and poverty.

      Public breastfeeding is certainly more accepted in some countries than others–but that doesn't provide fact-based evidence about rates of breastfeeding or whether or not hospitals or health centers are supporting breastfeeding.

      According my understand of what I read on UNICEF, there is a law in the Dominican Republic restricting advertising. That law is developed and compliance monitored because: "Misleading advertising and commercial promotion of breast milk substitutes and infant formulas is one of the leading factors behind the low rate of breastfeeding in the country, according to the findings of a monitoring study carried out by the National Breastfeeding Commission, with an emphasis on promotion and distribution activities."

      I don't know why addressing these issues is automatically characterized as spewing hate and negativity.

      Just because someone thinks that Nestle's marketing practices are part of the problem, that does not mean they think it is all of the problem. Furthermore, just because they think that part of the solution is to address corporate practices, that does not mean they think that is the entirety of the solution.

      Speaking for myself, I am an active volunteer in my community in a number of ways.

      Also, it isn't just that Nestle "allegedly marketed whatever illegally"…they also source cocoa from plantations using slave labor. They were buying milk from the dairy of one of the worst ("Under the European Union and American targeted sanctions against members of Mr Mugabe's network, it is illegal to transfer money or make transactions respectively with Mrs Mugabe. "), until pressure from activists made them back down.

      So, activism can make a difference.


  37. #
    OHmommy — June 1, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Thanks Amy for this post. Thatisall.


  38. #
    Jake Aryeh Marcus — June 1, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Can we please stop lumping together everyone who spoke against the Nestle Family junket? Not everyone took the same position or behaved the same way. Not everyone who participated in that Tweetstream is even aware of this conversation. Not everyone who was in that conversation bought a ticket to BlogHer and must now decide what to do. I count *4* people in this list of comments who wrote against participation in the Nestle Family trip AND planned to go to BlogHer. Two, yes only TWO, have said they plan to go despite the conference now being co-sponsored by Nestle. I spoke out against Nestle during the Nestle Family Tweetstorm and I wrote about it for Mothering magazine. I spent nearly $300 (of my own money) on a ticket to BlogHer. I will boycott the conference, throwing my ticket in the trash, as long as Nestle is a co-sponsor. Elita of Blacktating has written above that she too is not going to use her ticket. I don’t have numbers concerning how many are boycotting the conference and neither does anyone here. So I think you can tone down the “they are all a bunch of hypocrites” rhetoric.


    • Mom Spark replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 4:34 pm

      I haven’t called anyone a hypocrite. I honestly wanted to know the thoughts from boycotters who were planning to attend BlogHer. Not everyone in this specific category are commenting here.


    • Mom Spark replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 4:36 pm

      You may be referring to another commenter who used “hypocrite”. The comments are getting a little lost and harder to track.


  39. #
    crunchy domestic goddess (amy) — June 1, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Unfortunately this has turned into an “us vs. them.” I don’t know if I’m being lumped into one category because I’ve spoke out about Nestle on Twitter and my blog – – (and have a boycott list on my site). I don’t recall EVER calling anyone names for attending the #nestlefamily function. I questioned why some people attended, but ultimately I respect their decisions. And my goal throughout all of it was to raise awareness about Nestle’s practices, to raise social consciousness and maybe bring about some change, something I will continue to do whether or not I attend BlogHer.

    I haven’t completely made up my mind on whether or not I will attend, but in the spirit of raising awareness, I think that it may make more sense to attend the conference and be active rather than sit at home being passive.

    I wrote on my blog on Sept. 30, 2009 about the #nestlefamily twitterstorm:
    “So what did we learn?
    I have to admit I found myself very frustrated as I read Tweets from both sides today. The name calling, the inappropriate jokes, and the total disregard for the serious nature of Nestle’s infractions are the kinds of things that make “mommybloggers” look like raving lunatics. But I also saw a lot of civil debating, people keeping an open mind and presenting information and their positions without attacking and that part – that part was awesome. It’s the respectful discussion that is going to raise awareness and bring about change, not the snark, not the name calling. Let’s keep up the awesome part – the dialogue, the desire to effect change. The awesomeness will bring about good things in the world. :)”

    I still believe that.

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead


    • Jake Aryeh Marcus replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

      @crunchy domestic goddess (amy), I resent my boycott being referred to as “passive.” There is nothing passive about it. Boycotting is an act. My boycott of both Nestle products and events sponsored by Nestle is active.


      • crunchy domestic goddess (amy) replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 5:55 pm

        @Jake Aryeh Marcus, I’m sorry, Jake. That didn’t come out right. (I probably shouldn’t post comments while distracted.) I have the utmost respect for those who choose to boycott the conference. Personally, I don’t feel like it’s the best choice for me (at this time), but I respect you for doing it. I think it takes a lot of guts to boycott the conference.
        I could’ve chosen better words. Active vs. passive was not the best choice. I think it’s an active choice to boycott and sends a strong message. I also think it’s an active choice to attend and educate in the process.
        Once again, my apologies. I didn’t mean to offend you or anyone who decides to boycott the conference.

        • Jake Aryeh Marcus replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 6:12 pm

          @crunchy domestic goddess (amy), Thanks Amy. This is hard for all of us who oppose Nestle’s corporate behavior. There are different ways to protest and I respect that. I just don’t want Nestle to have the upper hand by divided us against each other.

          That is how I felt about the mother bloggers who went to the Nestle Family event. I would not have gone but I don’t necessarily feel that the reason each went was the same. Perhaps some really did believe they could do some good by bringing their concerns directly to Nestle. I recall people writing that is why they were going though I don’t recall anyone who went reporting they received information that wasn’t already publicly available. Nonetheless, Nestle succeeded in turning mother bloggers against each other. I wish we could all be a united front.

    • Amy replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 5:44 pm

      @crunchy domestic goddess (amy), I know that you were not a part of the name-calling, etc. and I appreciate that


      • crunchy domestic goddess (amy) replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 6:17 pm

        @Jake Aryeh Marcus, I agree. I don’t like the division all of this has caused.
        And, for the record, I am still considering boycotting. I’m definitely on the fence and am glad I have some time still to figure this out. I can see benefits of both – attending and boycotting.

      • CDG (amy) replied: — June 1st, 2010 @ 6:19 pm

        @Amy, thank you for acknowledging that. :)

  40. #
    MBrady — June 2, 2010 at 2:31 am

    Whether you boycott or not, remember that Nestlé RIGHT NOW is promoting baby milk around the world with the claim that it protects babies, knowing full well that babies fed on it are more likely to become sick and, in conditions of poverty, more likely to die.

    There is no justification for this and it is a clear violation of Article 9.2 of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.

    The boycott has forced Nestlé to make changes in the past and we will stop it doing this sooner or later. The more people who take action, the more publicity we get, the sooner it will be – which will help to save lives. At present Nestlé is refusing to change and has rolled this marketing strategy out in 120 countries.

    The point of the boycott and the point of protesting about Nestlé’s presence at BlogHer – whether by going to expose Nestlé or boycotting – is to say this and Nestlé’s other systematic violations of the International Code are unacceptable.

    Those who don’t think boycotts work (despite the evidence showing the changes the Nestlé boycott has forced) or think we should just accept companies will put their own profits before the health of babies or simply want to enjoy buying Nestlé products without thinking about what else Nestlé gets up to, can still do something to hold Nestlé to account: tell the management to stop claiming baby milk ‘protects’. It takes less than one minute (four minutes if you watch the film clip about Nestle’s strategy):

    This is just one aspect of Nestlé malpractice, but on past experience we can stop it quickly if people act. So I appeal to everyone to spare just a few minutes from the important discussion going on here to send a message to Nestlé and pass on the link to friends (and thanks to everyone who has done so already).


  41. #
    Mediamum — June 2, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    This is directed to the wealth of commenters: As many of you know, I wrote my Masters Thesis on the Nestle Family twitter storm event, focused on the engagement of people in the community. The thesis and my surrounding research have led to me being funded for my PhD (which will not be on the same topic, but does focus on social capital in online communities).
    I studied over 2300 tweets, blog posts and depth interviews around this event.
    The ‘bullying’ was evident on both sides of the equation. There were numerous people taken out of context or trying to find out information, who were pushed around or lost in the heated discussions.
    It was far easier to be combative and retreat than have an engaged conversation. Interestingly, a number of those who were most combative refused to be interviewed about their views for my thesis, even though they were provided with the questions – however they were all from one side of the argument. I make no conclusion on that, just that I noted it was interesting. Additionally, the formal responses of one or two people did not align with the views shown on their blogs and in comments on others’ blogs – so I included all of them. This was interesting as well.
    I have nothing but respect for those who feel the rug has been taken from under them. These are women who were looking forward to BlogHer, and who now feel they must give up their ticket in order to stay aligned with their belief. I celebrate anyone with that amount of commitment to any cause. It’s real because it’s being tested.
    I also believe it’s easy to judge those who don’t do so immediately. I know many women are currently having trouble coming to terms with the level of their conviction on this issue. Women who are not cashed up, or sponsored, and who have spent considerable money on flights and accommodation, and tickets – that they may not get back. This sponsor was added AFTER they bought in. The opportunity for conversation and understanding is here, not another opportunity to kick people around, or, as you say, Amy, ‘bully’ them.
    To everyone: Just because you might not agree with someone’s position doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to understand it. *off soapbox*


  42. #
    Lauren @ Hobo Mama — June 4, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    This has been a really, really interesting comment thread to read. I’m trying to wrap my head around it all, but I will say I’m glad to read such civil discourse, even as people are disagreeing with each other.

    @Mom Spark – could you direct me to posts you’ve written in the past or tell me why you support Nestle? Not to turn the conversation another direction, but I was just curious. Do you see any problem with their corporate practices, especially regarding the marketing of breast milk substitutes in developing nations? (These are honest questions, not a preface to an attack. Feel free to respond privately if you prefer.)


    • Jo @Mediamum replied: — June 6th, 2010 @ 9:18 am

      @Lauren @ Hobo Mama, Lauren, I think your questions are a great addition to the conversation, and extremely interesting. Rather than responding privately, I’d really appreciate a public response from @Momspark. I am sure many would be interested in her views on these more specific areas.


      • Mom Spark replied: — June 6th, 2010 @ 10:56 am

        @Jo @Mediamum, @Lauren My public response is very short and sweet.

        I do not think Nestle is to blame for any infant deaths or sickness in third world countries. I think it’s easy to blame Nestle because they are a huge corporation. (like it’s easy to blame McDonald’s for obesity) The real issues, in my opinion, are unclean water and lack of education in these countries, and Nestle has taken much action to correct that. ( I do not believe Nestle forces women in third world countries to use their formula, but instead offers it as supplement if needed.

        I nursed and used formula for both of my children, so I am not an extreme advocate of either side. I do not believe breastfeeding works for all women, and I do not have a problem with that. A large portion of the Nestle boycotters I have dealt with are those within in the pro-breastfeeding community that do not support infant formula in general, and I think this may be the bigger issue they have with Nestle. I could be totally off base by saying that and I am simply going off of my experience with individuals regarding this issue. I mean no disrespect to the community whatsoever because I do support breastfeeding, but I do not think it’s fair to judge those who choose to use infant formula.

        • Annie @ PhD in Parenting replied: — June 6th, 2010 @ 11:05 am

          @Mom Spark,


          I appreciate you answering the question. I think it is unfortunate that you, and a lot of other people, automatically assume that people who want to see an end to the unethical promotion of infant formula are automatically judging moms who use formula. I do not judge moms who use formula and nor do most lactivists that I know. Around 90% of women want to breastfeed and a much smaller number is actually successful at doing so. The sabotage tactics of formula companies is a big reason for the difference between those who want to breastfeed and those who meet their own goals.

          Another thing that it is important to consider is that while the infant formula issue is one thing that Nestle is boycotted/criticized for, it certainly isn’t the only one.

          This website from Corporate Watch has a good summary of some of the issues:

          Beyond that, I’m sure you heard about the recent Greenpeace protest, which was successful in getting Nestle to change one of its practices:

          I hope that similar actions will result in Nestle making other changes too.

          • Mom Spark replied: — June 6th, 2010 @ 11:26 am

            Trust me, I do not like stereotypes at all. That is not what I’m doing, I promise. I’m not even saying you, personally, are a part of that assessment at all. Last September, this is what I experienced. I saw a lot of focus on formula in general and why it shouldn’t be used by any mother. That is a whole other topic and post.

            Yes, I know that there are several other debates/issues regarding Nestle other than their infant formula. This post was not intended to debate those issues, but instead to discuss Nestle’s sponsorship of Nestle regarding boycotters.

        • Candace replied: — June 6th, 2010 @ 11:11 am

          @Mom Spark, Out of curiosity, would you (if you so desire) answer the same question in regards to sourcing from plantations that use slave labor or purchasing milk from Mugabe’s family in defiance of laws against such purchases (until finally backing down in the face of consumer and activist pressure)?

          • Mom Spark replied: — June 6th, 2010 @ 11:17 am

            It may be helpful if I include links to several questions that Annie submitted to Nestle that were answered by Nestle’s Edie Burge:

            PART 1
            PART 2
            PART 3

        • Candace replied: — June 6th, 2010 @ 11:47 am

          @Mom Spark, I’m going to be gone for a little while but I wanted to say that I appreciate your answering questions with your viewpoints. I will also say that when I remarked during the #NestleFamily event that most of the attendees had been “class acts”, I *am* referring to you.

          I don’t feel your McDonald’s analogy holds for several reasons. I don’t want to clog up a threat about a separate, if related, topic on your blog with my thoughts–but if you ever want to chat more about why I, as a free-market capitalist, libertarian-leaning person still believe that Nestle’s practices in least-developed countries is unethical, and in some countries illegal, I’d be happy to have that discussion.

          As to the slavery questions, would it be accurate to take your response to mean that you believe Nestle’s responses to be accurate and sufficient response to the issue of sourcing cocoa from plantations using slave labor? Just want to make sure I understand your position.

          Also, none of the responses seem to mention Mugabe, with a quick search.

          • Mom Spark replied: — June 6th, 2010 @ 11:55 am

            I appreciate that, Candace. I think it is important that all parties stay diplomatic, especially when dealing with such a sensitive, controversial topic. It’s easy to let emotions take over, and that obviously took place last September with both sides.

            This post was not intended to discuss or debate Nestle’s issues, but I understand your interest in my thoughts. The Mugabe issue is a newer one that I am still investigating and researching.

        • Melissa Horn replied: — June 6th, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

          @Mom Spark,

          My 2 cents:

          There is evil in the world, & we could discuss the woes from here to eternity.

          If Nestle is your fight, then go forth to boycott & educate with passion. However, what if Nestle is not MY fight? That should be ok too. We all make our own decisions & then have to live with them.

          What an unhappy life we would lead if we had to spend our time defending every choice we make to other people.

          Do your thing and I’ll do mine . . . and together (yet separately), we can use our passionate energy to attack at least a few of the wrongs in this world.

          • Mom Spark replied: — June 6th, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

            This is how I choose to live my life and while I do like to express my opinions, I do not feel the need to “change” anyone or force a person to agree with me.

        • Mike Brady replied: — June 6th, 2010 @ 3:14 pm

          @Mom Spark, You write: “I do not think Nestle is to blame for any infant deaths or sickness in third world countries. I think it’s easy to blame Nestle because they are a huge corporation. (like it’s easy to blame McDonald’s for obesity) The real issues, in my opinion, are unclean water and lack of education in these countries, and Nestle has taken much action to correct that.”

          Unfortunately what you think and reality are different things on this issue.

          Those who are close to this issue know the reality.

          Indeed, people have only to look at Nestlé’s own materials to see the company’s true behaviour. At present it is rolling out a global marketing strategy claiming its baby milk ‘protects’ babies, while it knows that babies fed on it are more likely to become sick than breastfed babies and, in conditions of poverty, more likely to die. It refuses to stop this practice despite it being a clear violation of the World Health Assembly marketing requirements.

          It also refuses to warn parents that powdered formula is not sterile and the simple steps that can be taken to reduce risks from possible intrinsic contamination with harmful bacteria that has killed babies even in industrialised countries – the campaign to hold Nestlé to account aims to protect breastfeeding and protect babies fed on formula. It is a bogus argument to suggest the campaign to hold Nestle to account is a judgement of mothers who use formula.

          When Nestlé’s new ‘protect’ claims arrived in South Africa in 2008, the Department of Health said: “The Department of Health are extremely concerned about all the health claims that Nestle make on the new NAN 1, 2 and 3 tins. The health claims are a contravention of the current South African Regulations. A meeting was held with representatives of Nestle and Department of Health and it seems they were not aware that they are transgressing the Regulations. However, they are reluctant to change the labels.”

          Nestlé does not want people to hear these voices – it wants people to hear false information claiming these issues are historic nothing to do with Nestlé.

          Make no mistake, Nestlé’s strategy of misleading people to relay its messages – even unwittingly, perhaps believing they are being objective – has been developed deliberately to divert criticism and undermine campaigns such as the boycott so that the practices can continue. I can tell you the name of the person who devised the strategy – calling it ‘two-step communication’ : Raphael Pagan, who worked for Nestlé in the 1970s. There is a good briefing paper from The Cornerhouse called ‘Engineering of Consent’ explaining how Pagan basically wrote the book on how to undermine corporate accountability campaigns.

          However, campaigns have forced changes from Nestlé (when it makes them Nestlé claims these as examples of it ‘taking the initiative’ – some examples are documented on the Baby Milk Action site). The current campaign against Nestlé’s ‘protect’ marketing campaign will also succeed if enough people get behind it – anyone who wants to help (or find out more) can click the link on my name.

          Although you may think you know better, the World Health Assembly, representing the world’s Ministries of Health, discussed these issues at their meeting in May 2010. The Resolution they adopted in diplomatic language includes statements like: “Recognizing that the promotion of breast-milk substitutes and some commercial foods for infants and young children undermines progress in optimal infant and young child feeding;”, “Expressing deep concern over persistent reports of violations of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes by some infant food manufacturers and distributors with regard to promotion targeting mothers and health-care workers;”.

          They called for governments to act collectively: “to develop and/or strengthen legislative, regulatory and/or other effective measures to control the marketing of breastmilk substitutes in order to give effect to the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and relevant resolutions adopted by the World Health Assembly;

          “to end inappropriate promotion of food for infants and young children and to ensure that nutrition and health claims shall not be permitted for foods for infants and young children, except where specifically provided for, in relevant Codex Alimentarius standards or national legislation;”

          They did this because they do know the reality.

          Those who know the truth are trying to stop Nestlé claiming its baby milk ‘protects’ babies and all other violations of the marketing requirements.

          • Mom Spark replied: — June 6th, 2010 @ 3:34 pm

            Mike, I know that you mean well and your comments are well noted and appreciated, but this post is not the appropriate platform for this discussion. This post is regarding Nestle’s sponsorship of Blogher and how Nestle boycotter will deal with this issue. I want to make sure we stay on the topic.

        • Mike Brady replied: — June 6th, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

          @Mom Spark, “Mike, I know that you mean well and your comments are well noted and appreciated, but this post is not the appropriate platform for this discussion. This post is regarding Nestle’s sponsorship of Blogher and how Nestle boycotter will deal with this issue. I want to make sure we stay on the topic.”

          The trouble is that you are posting on the topic of Nestlé’s marketing of baby milk (eg ‘The real issues, in my opinion, are unclean water and lack of education in these countries, and Nestle has taken much action to correct that’).

          I was responding to correct that information so that other readers are aware of the facts.

          In any case, Nestlé’s sponsorship of BlogHer is not only an issue for current boycotters. It may well be that many more people with tickets will decide they want to boycott Nestlé or at least raise questions over its sponsorship of BlogHer, if they have access to relevant information. And that will influence how they respond to the central topic.

  43. #
    TMM — June 5, 2010 at 6:40 am

    I agree with Her Bad Mother that any public Nestle boycotter who attends a Nestle-sponsored event has a problem with both optics and effect. And to answer the question in your post’s title: Will they be judged? I can’t see how they won’t be.

    They’ve been put in a really difficult and compromising position now and they’re looking to someone like PhD in Parenting for leadership. But instead of rallying the troops and asking them to boycott the conference to send a clear message to BlogHer that their membership won’t accept Nestle sponsorship, she concocts some charitable donation idea. Not exactly “radical” leadership.


  44. #
    NatureMom — June 8, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Kudos to Annie for deciding to attend. I will not forget that she and other people who raised objections about the Nestle Family event were doing so to raise awareness about child slavery and the safety of infants in third world countries. How any mom or blogger can somehow turn their outcry into a negative is beyond me. Now we see women wringing their hands in glee as they watch some of the anti-Nestle bloggers squirm and wrestle with a tough decision. Sour grapes! The folk who seemed to resent any judgement being sent their way sure are delighted to try and dish it… but it won’t work with me. Annie, Amy (Crunchy Domestic Goddess), Candace, and many others deserve a pat on the back for continuing to keep this issue fresh in our minds and I have no doubt that both could REALLY make an impact at the BlogHer event. Radical? Maybe not. But action nonetheless? YES!! More than most bloggers do, that is for sure.

    Nestle is a nasty company and bloggers can imagine that staying at home writing on their blogs will amount to earth shattering change but I would wager that showing up an event they are sponsoring and speaking out will have more impact. WAAAAAY more impact. Those that say differently are selling something that I am not buying.


    • Mom Spark replied: — June 8th, 2010 @ 8:19 pm

      @NatureMom, I’m not celebrating in any way that Nestle boycotters are having to “squirm” with this decision, I was simply interested (at the time of the article) in why I hadn’t heard anything regarding Stouffer’s sponsorship of BlogHer, especially with everything that went down last year.

      As of today, it looks like that those commenting are pretty divided on which action would make the bigger impact-refusing to attend or attending. It’s not my call to make, of course, but I do agree with the side that says not attending would make more of a statement to BlogHer and Nestle. Saying that, I am a Nestle and BlogHer supporter and like to see women of all views and backgrounds attend and connect. I just hope that any public boycotting at the conference will not negatively affect BlogHer attendees who are attending for reasons other than to protest or rally against Nestle. (which will be the majority)


  45. #
    Peggy Brister — June 8, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    I see so many of the VERY VOCAL boycotters now making up excuses for why they decided to go ahead and go to BlogHer as a situation of LET’S BOYCOTT until it is inconvenient for me or might cost me money, then let’s just let it slide. -MY REASONS ARE VALID REASONS TO BE A HYPOCRITE.- It’s amusing. I have found this post as well as all the comments very enlightening. I am not a boycotter of any company. There are a few products I don’t buy for my own personal reasons, but I don’t beat a drum to try to get ppl on the boycott bandwagon with me. I don’t see how going to a Nestle sponsored event is any different than the bloggers who went to the Nestle family event. Nobody is going to be able to go to BlogHer and MAKE A DIFFERENCE against Nestle. That’s just a load of crap. There won’t be any constructive dialouge between Nestle and the attendees or speakers. That’s not what they are there for. SO, make up yur excuses all day long. Lump a few good excuses together to make it sound even better in your own mind, but I agree with MomSpark on this one.


    • Jake Aryeh Marcus replied: — June 8th, 2010 @ 9:34 pm

      @Peggy Brister, name them all. Right now. I repeat what I wrote many comments above: most of the people who Tweeted in opposition to Nestle in the #NestleFamily incident never had tickets for BlogHer in the first place. Of those who do have tickets for BlogHer a whopping TWO have written posts about choosing to go to BlogHer after hearing Nestle would be a sponsor. T-W-O. I am sure there are others, as there are Nestle boycotters like me who have chosen not to use their BlogHer tickets in protest. I am not saying whether the two are right or wrong. I am saying only that two is not “so many” no matter where you stand on the issue.


    • NatureMom replied: — June 8th, 2010 @ 9:39 pm

      @Peggy Brister, No difference between attending a Nestle love fest and an event for moms bloggers that Nestle may happen to fund a tiny bit? You see no difference huh? It is hard to take comments like this seriously.

      I don’t think any anti-Nestle blogger thinks they will go to BlogHer and change Nestles mind or create constructive dialouge between themselves and Nestle but it WILL get attendees talking and interacting and it may change the minds and hearts of some moms when they hear the reasons for the anti-Nestle sentiment. I don’t thinking hiding behind a computer, alone with your principles, will create any change at all. But actually taking the cause to the streets and being vocal at a place where it just makes sense to be vocal.. a blogger’s conference, that might make some waves and get people thinking and speaking. And THAT is the goal folks.

      I am getting the feeling that this is more about punishing these bloggers for the Nestle Family drama than anything else. Well, let’s hope they don’t let themselves be bullied into not going by people who now claim that on principle they shouldn’t go. The bloggers should get to decide their own principles and not be swayed by people who apparently got some overnight.. when they found an axe to grind that is….



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