Nestle Family Blogger Event & Controversy

A few weeks ago when Nestle contacted me about beginning a relationship with them (their words), I was actually uncertain. I don’t eat Hot Pockets, buy Juicy Juice or stock Stouffer’s frozen lasagna. However, I do love several of their products (hello, break and bake cookies!!). Plus, Nestle is a big brand and I thought it might be fun stuff to pass on to you. (Anyone remember the HUGE boxes of Little Debbies?!)

When I found out a bloggy event would be coupled with this new relationship, I was really excited—I would have the opportunity to meet with some fun bloggy friends AND even better, I’d be in California where my dad’s four sisters live. And I’d probably get some free cookies. It was a total win-win situation.

Then I got on twitter.

And there was a BARRAGE of nasty tweets about how horrible Nestle is–how they use child slave labor to make chocolate. How Nestle kills babies by convincing mothers that formula is better than breastfeeding. AND then blasting (yes, blasting) the attendees for ignoring and selling out for a free hotel room and plane ride. It’s been so venomous that the bloggers at the event have felt personally attacked. It’s so shocking because the main thing I love about the blogosphere is the wonderful supportive community.

As the twitter storm got to it’s climax this afternoon, the VP of Communications (aka BIG WIG) from Nestle jumped on twitter himself to answer questions and put out some fires for us. And let me tell you, THAT makes me love Nestle. Taking care of people on this level shows me they take care of people on other levels (ie. children, workers in other countries).

Just being on this event does NOT make me an expert. It does NOT make me a spokesman. It doesn’t make me brand loyal or a “nestle blogger”. I’m not even a professional blogger or writer. I’m just a mom who’s had a an experience with a company. And the experience has been positive. Every Nestle employee has answered our (including the twittersphere’s) questions with HONESTY. They’ve had immediate responses and stopped to give us websites, info and real dialogue.

I may not be an expert on past decisions, current practices or global statistics…but I am smart enough to read people and feel honesty and passion. I’m not a carpet bagger, a corporate shill or a gold digger. I’m just a mom blogger who got an opportunity. That’s all.

:: :: ::

I’m not linking to anyone in this post b/c I don’t want more traffic going out into this ridiculous situation. If you randomly come here via twitter, please don’t give me a stat or a website. Believe me, I’ve already seen them all. And you should be impressed at my restraint in not returning the blasting. If you are not a blogger and have no idea what I’m talking about, why don’t you just scroll down and see my Disneyland photos—it’s much more interesting, I assure you.

Comments

  1. And that’s all you needed to say. Great post Amanda, well said!
    .-= kristin´s last blog ..Multitasking at it’s finest.. =-.

  2. It is a shame that the furore on Twitter means the focus is on that rather than the dishonest statements that Nestlé has made – some of which were relayed in Tweets.

    My starting point when people accept Nestlé’s hospitality for events like this is that they were unaware and to hope that once aware they will be able to take an objective look at the evidence and report on both that and how they have been misled. I think it is more productive if those with concerns about Nestlé’s baby milk marketing and other issues do the same.

    So I have sympathy with your objection to bloggers being slammed for being their if they were unaware, though surely raising the ethical concerns is legitimate and useful to those who found themselves in a position to question executives.

    When Nestlé came online, Baby Milk Action offered to take part in a Tweet debate directly with the company – we had a series of debates from 2001 – 2004, but Nestlé lost them all and now refuses to speak if we are in the room. While bloggers relayed Nestlé saying it is open to dialogue, in reality it also refused to attend a European Parliament Public Hearing and refuses to even set out its term and conditions for participating in an independent, expert tribunal into claim and counter claim. There has been no response from Nestlé regarding a Tweet debate, nor answers to the questions I posted on Twitter in response to Nestlé’s offer to answer them.

    For Baby Milk Action’s take on the event see:
    boycottnestle.blogspot.com/2009/09/nestle-family-twitters.html
    .-= Mike Brady´s last blog ..Nestlé family Twitters =-.

  3. Very well said Amanda.
    .-= PJ Mullen´s last blog ..The Scoop on ‘Recreating the first date’ =-.

  4. I hate that bloggers got attacked over this controversy. I’m sorry it happened to you – you don’t deserve it.
    .-= Gina´s last blog ..Old Men and Red Pants and Pink What? =-.

  5. Good on you, Amanda, for taking the time to make up your own mind. While I honestly don’t know enough about the situation to comment one way or the other, I do think it’s important not to be mindlessly swayed by emotionally-laden debates. There’s too much of that going around in all aspects of disagreements. And extra kudos for not falling prey to bullying.
    .-= Keiti´s last blog ..My Future Husband Is Awesome! =-.

  6. The real question is now that you know that they are unethical will you still continue working with them?
    .-= Limor´s last blog ..Community =-.

  7. I have no issue with the bloggers who accepted the invitation either not knowing about Nestle, knowing about it but not believing the evidence because they have evidence to the contrary, or knowing about it and believing it but hoping their attendance would draw attention to this important issue and allow them to personally deliver their objections to Nestle.

    What I don’t understand is how a company doing damage control makes you love that company? What the VP did was for himself, his job, and his company. Which is not to say he shouldn’t have tried to put the fires out–just that it wasn’t done out of any loyalty to the bloggers in attendance and I really don’t understand how that inspires love or even respect or admiration for Nestle.

    Nestle is engaging in double-speak. For example, they told you they were “supportive of breastfeeding” and gave the 24 hour “breastfeeding” hotline as an example. Now, I can’t fly to Africa to check out the labor practices on the cocoa plantations, but I did personally call the line. It is not staffed by people with Masters’ degrees, it is not staffed by lactation consultants, and it is not about helping women with breastfeeding. It is about “baby nutrition”. First you will get someone with no degree in nutrition at all and that is where it will stop unless you ask for someone with specific credentials. And they are there to advise you on (Nestle’s words): “food and tolerance issues”.

    Now, I’m not saying Nestle SHOULD have a breastfeeding hotline…but to use this phone line as an example of how they support breastfeeding is disingenuous at best.

    In short, it is a snow job. And I just hope that the smart, cool bloggers who accepted the invite aren’t really buying it.

    The real question, once you get back, and have had time, is now that you know about the accusations, will you research them? And if you find the accusations to be true, then what will you write about Nestle?
    .-= Candace´s last blog ..Yes, I’m THAT Mother (Already) =-.

  8. Wow, what a shame… I’m sorry you were attacked and that you’re having to deal with all of this, when it was suppose to be all in fun. Good for you, for taking the high road!

  9. Some people just dont get the point, do they? Or they completely ignore your requests so they can plaster their point. Lame.
    Hey, have a great time out there. I assume you’re going to the bay area? I grew up there and know there’s a big ol’ Nestle plant off the freeway.
    Now, I will go make some hot chocolate. And love every bit of it.
    :) :) :)
    .-= clistyb´s last blog ..A tug-of-war, fashionably speaking =-.

  10. I tried to stay out of the Twitter mess yesterday because it was frankly clogging up my stream and didn’t seem productive. To me if you have an issue with the company, speak to the company. The fact that bloggers were gettting personally attacked to me is disgusting. And I have no interest in hearing the message of the “other side” if they engage in nastiness.

    I totally respect people having issues with corporations. But how you convey your message is just as important AS your message. So “anti- Nestle” people you lost your audience. I tuned out the second you started attacking bloggers I consider friends. What could have been a chance for you to respectfully engage in a debate was blown, not by Nestle, but by you.

    So sorry you got caught in the firestorm Amanda. Disney looked like a blast though :) Keep your chin up!!
    .-= The Diaper Diaries´s last blog ..Things I Love Thursday- Hostess Cupcakes (and a GIVEAWAY!!) =-.

  11. Jenny Swan says:

    I admire your restraint and compassion on this issue. The tweeting thing is just amazing to me.

    I think the breastmilk vs formula debate has taken on a whole new level. I don’t understand why people can’t take this level of interest to things like, oh starving children in Africa instead of spending time lambasting parents whom they have no knowledge of particular situations.

    Good for you!

  12. “As the twitter storm got to it’s climax this afternoon, the VP of Communications (aka BIG WIG) from Nestle jumped on twitter himself to answer questions and put out some fires for us. And let me tell you, THAT makes me love Nestle. Taking care of people on this level shows me they take care of people on other levels (ie. children, workers in other countries).”

    That doesn’t mean they love people..that means they totally blew when it came to their foray into social media.

    They should have had their own soc med people handling twitter so that people like you were NOT the centre of the storm.

    They made you their spokespeople. They used you. They were mindboggling unprepared for the KNOWLEDGE of Nestle ethics and marketing that is out there.

    Being nice does’t make a person or company good.

    I do agree that the ‘tone’ of the tweets probably caused people who didn’t know to totally shut down and refuse to listen..and that is sad.

    I am not a lactivist or a boycotter…I am just someone who already knew about Nestle from just keeping my ears open and I would not have bought into their niceness.

    But that is just me.

    You can read up on all the stuff out there..and make your own decisions..and you are allowed to love their products..whatever you buy…i do too…just be a more aware shopper is what the moderate folks ask…

    Remember marketing and pr is just that..SELLING something….and not for altruistic reason.

  13. I think this is very well said. I got on Twitter when it was in the middle, looked at a couple things and exited. Thanks for summing it up without being mean.
    .-= Jendi´s last blog ..Are You In The Video Search Engines? =-.

  14. Just to be perfectly clear I meant that Amanda’s post is well said. I just skimmed the comments – I’m not referring to them.

    It has been a reminder to me to try to check things out before accepting things from a company.
    .-= Jendi´s last blog ..Are You In The Video Search Engines? =-.

  15. had no idea there was so much controversy, sorry for the haters, do what works for you.
    .-= sarah´s last blog ..a whole lot of randomness =-.

  16. amanda – i’m sorry you got so slammed about this! i too would have happily gone to the event, without having any clue about all this controversy. i grew up in the same town as nestle headquarters in ohio and never heard a single bad thing about them!
    i’ve never got the impression for a single second that you are a “a carpet bagger, a corporate shill or a gold digger” and i’m offended for you if someone said that to you.
    this is a great post – well said. keep your chin up!
    .-= melissa from girlymama´s last blog ..try this carnival: comfort foods **giveaway** =-.

  17. Yes, you are a spokesperson. By going, by writing this, by talking about how much you love Nestle, by accepting whatever they offered you. You are a spokesperson for them now.

    The slamming would not have happened if bloggers stopped, thought, and reseachered. Instead they jumped up and down the shiny free products they were offered, then got patted on the head by Nestle and told what good girls you are. All so you would come home and tell your friends “Hey, they can’t be that bad!” And then we all skip merrily off into the Nestle sunset. Tra-la-la-la
    .-= Summer´s last blog ..What I Learned From the #nestlefamily Drama? People Suck =-.

  18. My heart is breaking that you got caught in the middle of this. I had NO idea (I don’t Twitter…my blog and Facebook are about the extent of my social networking) and I am appalled. I am not appalled at you or the fact that you accepted the Nestle invite (I would have in a heartbeat). What appalls me is the absolute gall of ANYONE to judge you or your intentions – especially if they don’t know you.
    I know you have gone through your own debate about your blog and what it is for – I hope that this experience doesn’t make you re-think it. You are good at this, which is evidenced by how eloquently you have addressed this situation.

    Virtual hugs to you –
    Janna, the Little Debbie lovin’, Juicy Juice buying, Stouffer’s Lasagna eatin’, formula feeding MOM
    .-= Janna´s last blog ..My Version of a Pumpkin Spice Latte =-.

  19. Wow, all I can say is wow….and what would Jesus do? I have no idea what kind of company Nestle really is…but Jesus hung out with all kinds of people and died for all. Maybe it is an opportunity to shine His light in a new area.

  20. What?!? Oh, Amanda… I’m sorry. I have no idea what is going on, but this is all wrong….

  21. I guess I have been in the dark with hubs new days off and the girls being sick. I had no idea. I am so sorry that you were attacked. Enjoy the rest of your time in CA and I look forward to seeing more pics! The Disney Land pics are awesome!!

    xoxo
    .-= domestic extraordinaire´s last blog ..Happy Birthday Renee =-.

  22. I guarantee you that the ones complaining all use Nestle products, some time or another. Get over it people. If you investigated, you would find every large company has its demons.

  23. Cindy Hunnicutt says:

    My goodness! What in the world??!! I can tell there’s a big story here and I want to hear all about it when you get back. I’m glad you’re standing up for what your perception is!

  24. yikes! i bet you weren’t counting on all this for the event! i agree with those who say whatever, you’re an adult, decide what you want. a friend of mine had told me all about nestle’s sordid past (and present, unfortunately) so i am not too much of a fan but that’s not to say i wouldn’t hear them out if given the opportunity. either way, you haven’t lost a reader in me :) hope you guys had a great time!!
    .-= Candace´s last blog ..Shop re-stock: Last call =-.

  25. Wondeful post you said it perfectly :(
    .-= Toni´s last blog ..Winners, Winners, Winners! =-.

  26. Amanda, every blogger who went to that event – particularly the ones who were ignorant of the boycott – have my sympathy for the unprovoked and often unreasonable attacks from some of the boycott supporters. Some of them still don’t see how wrong they were. I had never heard of this boycott before September 30th and learned about it through the Twitter grapevine.

    I have respect for some boycott supporters, such as Mike Brady (another commenter above), who made an effort to encourage discussion and promote awareness, rather than turning to aggressive attacks.

    I’m disturbed by the allegations against Nestle and I plan to do my due diligence to figure out where I personally stand and I think that’s all anyone can expect. At the same time, if I had been one of the bloggers who were attacked and treated so rudely, I could see myself dismissing the boycott entirely. It’s a real shame that a few people who believe so passionately about their cause would behave in such a manner that actually damages their integrity rather than build it up. Questions were met with hostility and an “I’m right; accept it” attitude.

    My sincere hope is that if Nestle is, in fact, participating in unethical business/marketing practices, that it will stop. The jury’s out as to whether a nearly 30-year boycott will be the instigator of that change, though.
    .-= Karen W.´s last blog ..Free Range Kids: Finally! I’m not the only one! =-.

  27. I understand that there were a number of bloggers who were totally unaware of the long-standing controversy around Nestle – the boycott has been in place since 1977. What I find difficult to understand is how bloggers can expect to profit from a relationship with Nestle and also be absolved for any responsibility for the promotion of the company (and by extension its practices). You can’t have it both ways and your readers deserve to know where you stand.
    As for Nestle, I suspect Scott Remy is having a very, very bad week – and I can bet you that it has nothing to do with feeling bad for you.
    .-= Michelle @ doudoubebe.com´s last blog ..Guess who is in the Canadian Family Toy Guide? =-.

  28. Wow, Summer! I think you have issues to say the least.

    Shame on you for assuming that everyone who went is ignorant and cannot decide for themselves or be objective at all.

    How do you know that these women did not go, hear all of the information, debate and still decide for themselves that Nestle is not as bad as people are saying?

    You make it sound like none of them have brains and are stupid robots who do exactly what everyone wants them to do. Most of the women who went are probably much more intellegent than you!

    Your comment proves your own ignorance and intollerance.

  29. “How Nestle kills babies by convincing mothers that formula is better than breastfeeding.”

    I kinda caught onto the fact that many breastfeeding Mother’s felt that way about the company.

    Listen, I’m not saying Nestle is a good company or a bad one. I don’t know enough to make that judgment. And I know breast is best BUT I’ve bottle fed all of my babies after a certain age and if not for formula I don’t know what I would have done.

    Formula is not of the devil and some Mother’s actually HAVE to use it. It is no secret the health problems I faced nursing my babies. And the lengths I went to in order to keep it going. It didn’t happen and so I had to move into formula. I wish I didn’t, but I did, and I’m glad I had another option for my babies.

    Nell
    .-= Casual Friday Every Day´s last blog ..Really, I have no idea what to title this…{in which she sings} =-.

  30. When my son was born he rejected nursing from me. I tried everything short of going mad. When he did engage and eat a little, he would become so gassy and upset and cry for hours on end.

    Apparently I was the same way and my mother is a respected nurse. She eventually gave into making her own formula.

    I started my son on formula, but he had the same reactions. I tried soy and he broke out in hives, so I asked my mother how she made her own formula. I went to the store and purchased a case of condensed goats milk. I made my own formula. My son drank 18 ounces the first time. He was so hungry. He became a completely new, happy baby.

    I did not feel bad for not breast feeding.

    Years later I was diagnosed with Hashimotos disease and hypothyroidism and realized I was dealing with an undiagnosed disease for years. I feel in my heart that my breast milk probably tasted odd, reflecting how sick I was.

    He has only been sick twice. He is 14, a strong, athletic, healthy happy kid. Some of us out here cannot breast feed – end of story. I would have done the store formula if it worked for my son. Instead I made my own.

    I would never begin to judge a mother for formula feeding her baby, just as I would not judge a mother for breast feeding in public.

    If I had been there the reactions would have really made me angry. Amanda, you made me want to go have some Nestle hot cocoa.

    Catherine
    .-= A Week In The Life of A Redhead´s last blog ..The Worst Kept Secret in America =-.

  31. I heard this through the grapevine but think it was great Nestle helped you out
    .-= angi´s last blog ..Tell Me A Story giveaway =-.

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