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Bloggers boycott BlogHer '10 over Nestle (Stouffer's, Butterfinger) sponsorship

The fact that a couple of Nestle brands are sponsoring the BlogHer '10 conference really sucks.

I've written here already about my choice, my approach, and my reasons. Although I've taken one path in my activism, I also have a great deal of respect for people who have chosen other paths. Whether they are doing it for themselves, for their children, for their integrity, to pressure BlogHer, to send Nestle a message, or all of the above, I have a great deal of respect for those people who have chosen to boycott the BlogHer '10 conference due to the Nestle sponsorship.

Marie Stroughter, who was supposed to be one of my co-panelists on the Radical Moms panel feels so strongly about Nestle's unethical business practices that she chose to cancel her speaker's slot and will not be attending BlogHer '10. Marie is the co-founder of African-American Conservatives and blogs at Mamagraphy. She wrote a post Nestle, BlogHer and Why I Will Not Attend (Oh My!) detailing the history of her activism and her awareness of the Nestle issue. Here is an excerpt:

Nestle couldn’t care less about me. My attending or not attending isn’t going to affect anyone’s “bottom line.” But, I have to live with me. I have to look at myself in the mirror. I have to “walk the walk” before my children, and that’s why I get the “big girl panties.” So, yeah, easy decision. Ugly dilemma. I hope BlogHer will rethink this strategy (and not just “tiers” or “tracks” but out and out “no thank you, Nestle!”). I’d love it if Nestle would rethink their whole strategy, too. Tasty chocolate doesn’t make up for infant deaths.

Another blogger and writer who I have been following for a long time was planning to attend BlogHer for the first time this year. Jake Aryeh Marcus from Sustainable Mothering wrote Boycotting BlogHer Because I Boycott Nestle. Here is an excerpt from her post:

So when I read that a Nestle brand was going to be one of the eighty or so sponsors of BlogHer '10, I knew I had a problem. There was some behind the scenes posting about who was going to do what and whether BlogHer might do something. I thought that perhaps even if Nestle was going to be at the conference, perhaps they could sponsor a particular event I could avoid, rather than the entire conference. Just my impression, but I don't think BlogHer organizers cared less. Conference sponsorship for BlogHer is a "show me the money" enterprise. And from the discussions about previous conferences – samples, products, brands, stuff, stuff, stuff – I should have known that before I bought my ticket.

Heather from A Mama's Blog has been looking forward to attending BlogHer for years. She was planning to attend with our mutual friend Amy from Crunchy Domestic Goddess. Like me, Amy made the difficult decision to attend the conference, but Heather has decided against it. In her post BlogHer ’10, Nestle Sponsorship, & Integrity, Heather wrote:

Eating a chocolate chip cookie from a friend is different though, when faced with the knowledge the conference that I really want to attend is being paid for in part, by Nestle.  Another dilemma I have is my conference tickets were wait-listed.  BlogHer specifically said if they were able to get more sponsors, then more tickets would be available.  Nestle was not listed as an original sponsor. It isn’t too far of a reach to conclude the reason I even got a ticket in part, is because of Nestle’s sponsorship.

I am frustrated that BlogHer would even consider, let alone accept Nestle as a sponsor.  I accept advertising for my blog through BlogHer, but I have specifically opted out of accepting any formula companies, such as Nestle.  BlogHer is aware of the boycott and the issues surrounding Nestle.  I would have rather not received a wait-listed ticket, and not have been able to attend the conference, than attend with this now black cloud of controversy surrounding it.

It bothers me BlogHer, which supports women in so many aspects, accepted Nestle as a sponsor, when their business practices hurt so many women and their children, especially the most vulnerable in developing countries.

I hope that you will go and read their posts and support their decision, as so many of you have supported mine. There will be more to come on my blog about this issue over the next few weeks as the conference approaches, including the final list of charities I have decided to support.

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Reader Comments (15)

Thanks so much for posting this, Annie! I truly *do* hope our paths cross again. I so admire all you do to raise awareness about this issue and hope your efforts bear fruit!

July 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarie Stroughter

Thanks Annie. I am glad we can respect each others' choices in dealing with this situation none of us wanted.

July 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJake Aryeh Marcus

It's possible I've missed it, but has Blogher come out with an official response to this and addressed concerns for future conferences?

July 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJill @BabyRabies

I'm really very disappointed in BlogHer. Very disappointed. I wish that no one had been put in this situation, and they are the only ones who can accomplish that at the end of the day. Other than Nestle, of course, but we pretty much know where Nestle stands on the Nestle boycott.

July 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

For the first time, I am glad that I was unable to purchase tickets to this year's BlogHer conference. My husband and I fought long and hard over whether or not I could go, and in the end, he won.

I'm not sure how I would deal with the moral dilemma I would face if I had bought a ticket, but I am most certain that beyond the internal struggle between personal integrity and the want to go it would cause even more arguments for me and my husband.

So, although I'd never ever admit to it if you repeated this to him, I'm incredibly glad my husband convinced me that I didn't need to go this year.


I haven't seen an official response, but there are some quotes from Elisa in the Sheposts.com post on it: http://sheposts.com/content/blogher-10-picks-nestle-sponsorship-what-will-boycotters-do

Many of us are hoping for a clearly defined sponsorship policy or similar for future conferences to ensure this doesn't happen again. I know that there will probably always be companies that a few people will disagree with, but one of the most boycotted companies in the world and one that is a significant threat to the health of mothers and babies is a big deal.

July 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

[...] seemed to start wars bigger than the ones going on in Iraq and Afghanistan!! People are also boycotting the event due to their association with Nestle and Nestle’s business practices. It’s as [...]

[...] list of things I like to do, so this isn’t an issue for me.  But I know that it’s been painful for several bloggers who are actively involved in promoting breastfeeding.  (I’ve had BlogHer ads running on my [...]

Thanks for the mention- nice follow up article too.

Nestle definitely is a rotten company! I hope BlogHer can figure out a way to put policy around sponsorhip offers for the future. I bet a few years ago they were *begging* for sponsors and now they need to figure out how to turn sponsors away! I can imagine the management team scratching their heads and wondering how that happened.

Maybe some of the blogging community can provide suggestions on sponsorship policy changes that the management at BlogHer can use? At the end of the day, I bet the BlogHer management is really a small group of women who are balancing kids, family, work, etc.

Realistically, if you dig deep enough, ANY for-profit company will have dirty laundry that someone would take offense to. It's just a question of figuring out where to draw the line, I suppose.

July 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlina

[...] have continued to write a variety of posts on issues related to Nestlé and on my decision and the decision of others with regards to the Nestlé sponsorship of BlogHer ’10. I will continue to point out business [...]

[...] had a great time at Blogher. Some people in my circles asked why, given all the controversy about the Nestle sponsorship and the excessive, sometimes reckless [...]

[...] opportunity to mention my objection to Nestle in my panel discussion and to mention the fact that some people, including one of my planned co-panelists, were boycotting the conference due to the Nes.... I wore #noNestle stickers on my badge, my phone, and sometimes even my face. I handed out stickers [...]

[...] boycotting of the conference by some speakers and attendees, and to silent action coordinated by PhDinParenting, who through her blogging, increased  BlogHer community awareness of Nestle’s violations of the [...]

BlogHer really feels like it has sold out to the worst of the worst corporations. I'm proud of both the bloggers who boycotted and those who went and spoke their minds (like you) while you were there.

I won't be going to another BlogHer conference. Not with that much corporate sponsorship. It just feels wrong to me.


July 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Margulis

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