CNN has this interesting report about how McDonald’s went about rolling out their new, healthier Happy Meal. They brought in some Mommy bloggers:
Yesterday, as McDonald’s announced their Happy Meal overhaul plans, mom bloggers were offered a seat at the table – a fact that did not escape the notice of BlogHer’s food section editor Genie Gratto, who also blogs at The Inadvertent Gardener. Her post McDonald’s Happy Meal: PR Stunt or Health Win? corralled mom-o-sphere reactions varying wildly from the irked or skeptical to the cautiously optimistic.
Gratto herself calls McDonald’s decision to include parental gatekeepers, especially those with an enormous platform, “very smart.”
She told Eatocracy, “Moms involved in social media are talking online all the time, and they’re used to these campaigns. There’s also so much digital marketing going on toward kids all the time and social media professionals are aware that kids may not be as thoughtful about how they process the message. Actually including moms gives them the chance to raise the dialogue a bit.”
Suffice to say, this pairing of corporate marketers and mommy bloggers makes me a tad uncomfortable on some small level. (And not just because McDonald’s would have gotten an earful from me had I been asked what I think about their decision to suck the fun out of Happy Meals at the behest of PC do gooders.) I apologize if this gets a bit meta here, but I think those of you that enjoy reading Mommy blogs should think a bit about what’s going on here. Long before I ever became a Mommy blogger I was — and emphatically still am — a professional journalist. Let’s not get all sanctimonious about what it means to be a journalist because anyone with a keyboard can be one, but on some level it does involve some professional standards and transparency of motive.
Yet, often we value mommy bloggers because they are so, well, not unprofessional but because like raising our children well, our desire to help others do the same is on some level a labor of love. But like any other grassroots cultural movement, marketers see that authenticity as very valuable, and want to co-opt it. Heck, there’s even a talent agency for mommy bloggers now.
The rapid explosion of mommy blogs means that there’s certainly a lot of well-meaning folks that don’t necessarily think of their jobs in professional terms and can be easily wooed by corporate marketers bearing cash and/or free products. At the same time, I’m conflicted because frankly corporate marketers should be talking to moms about how to make their products better. As mothers, we often control the household purse strings and use all kinds domestic items more than just about anybody else. Their products wouldn’t get better without input from mothers.
Mothers are often involved in thankless work, and the rise of mommy blogs gives us a rare opportunity here to leverage our powers here to do some real good, rather than simply become tools of industry. Still, I hope that going forward those of us in the mommy blogging biz, such that it is one, will endeavor to put transparency, from one mom to another, front and center. And on that note, if anyone at BCBG’s corporate office needs some help marketing their clothes to moms — call me! I’ll need lots of free samples.