Thanks to Hoyden About Town for the heads up on this story.
To start, I thought I’d dig out this photo for the Sydney Morning Herald, they don’t seem to have been able to find it. I’m hoping I’ve interpreted it correctly that I can use it. On to the rest of the article.
“Mummy bloggers spit the dummy”
“Hell hath no fury like a mummy blogger scorned”
Well there’s a nice characterisation to begin with – we’re babies who throw tantrums and over-react (that’s general, I don’t like the Mummy blogger tag and many of the people involved aren’t). And all in the first two lines. So do we deserve it?
There was some pretty nasty stuff going around on Twitter from both sides. But have a look at the actual blogs and listen to the non-bloggers involved in the boycott. Does this sound like a tantrum? Or this? Or even this? And the fury was there well before Nestle refused to answer questions. Not doing well so far, Sydney Morning Herald. Let’s have a look at the rest.
They got something right, Nestle is one of the world’s most boycotted companies, but it’s not just a dirty water issue. Please don’t get hung up on formula and forget the child slaves or water rights. And their timeline is basically backwards, implying that there were already large social media protests and Nestle needed a chance to ‘give their side.’ Sorry guys, not quite how it happened.
Nestle set the event up, probably to test the waters using social media for marketing. Incredibly cheap marketing don’t forget – what is the cost of giving 20 people a weekend away and giving their family some steak compared with a television campaign? According to at least one of the attendees, they’d never heard of any questions about Nestle’s ethics and it wasn’t what the conference was about. But the skewed timeline in this report makes it look as if poor little Nestle was just defending themselves against those nasty activists.
No bloggers were interviewed (or at least there are no responses in the article) but Nestle Australia was.
“This just goes to show that the blogosphere is a tough place to try to have a rational argument!,” she wrote in an emailed statement.
“The event at Nestle USA was held to introduce our company to a number of bloggers. It was very successful, which of course absolutely infuriated the small, biased, vocal group whose anti-Nestle opinions are so entrenched that no matter what we do, they will twist it to present us in the worst possible light.”
Well as a blogger and a Mummy*, whom the Sydney Morning Herald didn’t consult in this story, I have a few comments on that statement.
- Nestle hasn’t engaged anyone in the blogosphere on the boycott and their marketing practices, but this list of questions would be an excellent place to start. It looks pretty rational to me.
- The large, informed, vocal group was telling you they were infuriated way before the event happened. It’s because of those dying babies and child slaves.
- One of the reasons we’re infuriated is you don’t do anything. You talk, you make statements, you spin. But you don’t debate. You don’t answer questions. You don’t change your unethical marketing practices. You don’t buy fair trade cocoa.
So here are a few suggestions for Nestle, and if you do them we’ll look at what light is appropriate:
- Answer those questions from PhD in Parenting. As soon as you do, I’ll help get your answers out there.
- Answer some of the other questions you avoided on Twitter.
- Agree to the 4-point plan for ending the boycott – it’s only four points! You can do it!
- Decide that maybe lives are more important than profits. You’re one of the world’s largest food producers, so you do have the economic muscle to effect change.
And SMH? I came away from the original Twitter storm thinking the bloggers invited were a bit naive. But after all, they’re amateurs who just didn’t think that things like child slavery still exist and didn’t think to check out the company talking to them. And who wouldn’t be flattered – a multinational company thinks I’m important enough to invite? I’m not a journalist, I’m a mother and a blogger, with absolutely no training in writing or journalism. But I can manage to do at least a little bit of reading on this issue and discuss it without meaningless, insulting cliches. I think there is a lesson for both types of media here – bloggers need to realise that with readers comes responsibility. And journalists need to remember that they are under scrutiny.
*Actually, there are only two people on this earth who get to call me Mummy. Neither of them has anything to do with Nestle or the Sydney Morning Herald.