Mom Bloggers and Big Brands

I don’t make a habit of addressing articles in which I’ve been quoted, but I’m making an exception here. There is a story on the front page of Sunday’s Los Angeles Times – Blogging moms wooed by food firms – and I’ve allowed Ray to post his thoughts. Please weigh in and let us know what you think!


Do you think Tiger Woods’ endorsement of Nike or Buick diminishes his name or their brands because he’s paid millions of dollars to pitch them?

Is Kelly Ripa less credible on Live because she’s paid to promote Electrolux? Does that make Regis a better person?

Of course the answer is “No.” But oddly, when it comes to mommy bloggers offering a positive comment about a product after they’ve had a chance to visit a brand’s operation in Los Angeles or New York, some cry foul. They say moms have been compromised and aren’t to be believed.

But the truth is just the opposite.

Take my wife for example. Christine will only talk about products, brands or services that she enjoys and trusts personally. If she doesn’t like it or if it fails in some way, she won’t talk about it. In fact, she has put together boxes of products to donate to Goodwill after deciding not to endorse them for one reason or another. You’ve never heard anything about these products from her. That’s because she’s decided not to brand bash – this site is all about our family and what we like and enjoy, not what sucks. For that, she gets criticized by some.

Most mommy bloggers do not get paid to post their opinions on products (and my wife is no exception), however consider this – Wisk laundry detergent recently invited Christine, all expenses paid, to New York City for a couple of days so she could learn about their product. How fun would that have been? But since she’s sold on Tide (no offense to Wisk, which I’m sure has a good product) and she uses it on the bazillion loads of laundry our family churns out each week, she turned Wisk down. And this is only one such example.

Why is it that there seems to be one standard for mom bloggers and another for celebrities who endorse products? In my way of thinking, the mom’s are, if anything, more credible than the celebrities. Does Tiger really drive a Buick? Does Kelly Ripa really cook her own meals? Does Oprah really love Butt Paste?

I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I do know that real moms with real families blog and talk about the products they use and love.

One other thing to consider, just as celebrities wouldn’t associate their name with something dubious, neither would most mom bloggers. I know Christine certainly wouldn’t.

On a related note, I do have to say that sometimes I wish she would rip on some products that deserve to be criticized heavily… Think water bottle you’d take to drink at the gym and change nothing. Now give to the kid in the back seat, because you don’t want to stop to let him go to the bathroom. Do you think at some point that someone might get a mouthful of something unpleasant?


  1. says

    I agree with you 100%. Most of the products I talk about on my blog are in a positive light because I actually enjoyed using them and found them helpful in my day to day life. But I do tend to go a step further and point out faults I find along the way. No product is perfect.

  2. says

    All of this mom blogger bashing by reporters is just ridiculous.

    To be honest, I think part of the issue is that reporters are feeling their job security is being threatened by the social media phenomenon.

    Also, I think that people are always ready to devalue women and moms in particular. In that article, they even say “so called ‘mommy-bloggers'”… They use the term ‘Mommy’ to insinuate a lack of education and professional experience.

    It is disgusting.

    • says

      I 100% agree with this, how often are reporters doing the same thing we are now being offered or given and now all of the sudden it’s wrong.

      Susan makes an excellent point about them feeling their job security is being threatened I think that is exactly why this always turns into a bloggers or in particular mom blogger suck. Well the best part is if we sucked so bad why would we be the ones companies are turning to?

      Obviously we rock and that’s a scary thing to the media now.

      • says


        When I was at a media event, it made me chuckle that I was eating the free food RIGHT ALONG with the journalists! The journalists are at press junkets too! Why on earth is it so appalling that new media is being called on to attend events and junkets that old media have been doing forever?!?

        I read that article earlier today – it was insulting and demeaning. I am so sick of them trying to make a story out of nothing.

        Great work Ray and Christine!

  3. says

    Since the L.A. Times story doesn’t allow the option to post a comment there, I am glad you have started your own forum for our voices to be heard, because I also agree that mommy blog bashing is getting way out of hand. And 5 Minutes for Mom hits it right, I think, when she says that traditional media may feel their own positions are in jeopardy and they may be dethroned — gasp — by a bunch of moms that give their honest opinions about products their families have actually tested personally and feel they want to share with others.

    There’s a good chance too that all this animosity toward moms who blog has also been aggravated by the jealousy of some bloggers that have not been invited into corporate inner mommy circles. If you really think about it, it’s just silly child’s play. Since when is sharing/recommending things you like to other families such a crime? Or if you don’t like something what’s the matter with telling others what you really think about a product?

    As long as mommy bloggers are abiding by full disclosure of how those products were obtained that they are commenting about, they have done nothing wrong. Sure, there are some unethical mommy bloggers, but I’d say it’s likely that the majority of us have always acted with only good intentions. Few if any mommy bloggers contribute currency or a paycheck to their households with these products and trips they “earn” for spending their time writing reviews and for sometimes being away from their families for days at a time.

    It’s also important to point out, that personal styles of mommy blogging vary, as much as the personalities of the women that they represent. For example, personally, I don’t make it my purpose to bombard bad products with bad publicity, because everyone knows what happens when you give a child attention when they are acting badly – it just escalates the negative behavior. When I do product reviews, based on something my family tries and benefits from, I always start by looking for the positive attributes – just like a parent builds their child’s self esteem by focusing on the good. But, to be as objective as possible, I also look at the product as a whole when assessing it and I have no problem of touching on any concerns I might have or suggestions on how to make the product even better if I believe there is information consumers ought to know.

    BTW I am one of the earlier signers to voluntary disclosure on which was active months before the FTC announced mandatory blogging guidelines that go into effect on December 1, 2009.

    In conclusion, mommy bloggers are playing an increasingly important role in consumer product marketing as much as they as in consumer advocacy. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

    Please feel free to visit my blog as I will be continuing to write about this topic as well as provide content for moms who are just consumers as well as resources and information for mommy bloggers like me.

  4. says

    Mothers are always being criticized for one thing or another: working, not working, vaccinating, or not….this is just another primary example. Kudos to you for keeping things positive.

  5. says

    When it comes to paid celebrity endorsements I pretty much ignore anything they say about the product. You can’t tell me that Tiger takes possession of a Lucerne, puts it through its paces and then agrees to do an ad to hawk the vehicle. That just doesn’t happen.

    In my opinion, the parent bloggers that review products have more credibility when they write about a product because they’ve actually spent some time with it/using it and have applied it to their lives. The only caveat being that as long as the nature of the relationship is properly disclosed and the reader understands the transaction that resulted in the blog post.

    Additionally, just because bloggers such as Christine only chose to be positive and opine on the products that they enjoy using with their family by no means diminishes their credibility. There is nothing wrong with not saying anything about a product you didn’t like. You don’t see that with most traditional marketing and these review bloggers are not holding themselves out as a Consumer Reports-like alternative.

    I would agree that there should be more stringent requirements placed on celebrities that will attach their name to just about anything these days under the guise of ‘building their brand’ when in reality it is truly all about the cash.

    For any brands out there reading this post, I’m more likely to not buy something if it gets a celebrity endorsement because I know the likelihood that they have actually investigated the product or service is slim. That and the pay day you gave to them most likely made the product more expensive for me with little to no added value.

  6. says

    Hi Christine (and hi Ray!) I wrote my own take on the article today. Of course you have the right to only write about products you like. It’s obvious you pick and choose your features. I just hate when people try and find something nice to say about a product they got for free even when it sucks. Once in a while it would be refreshing to hear that yes, the new XYZ mop is lifesaving, but the environmental impact is a little hard to stomach with all those disposable cloths.

    But I will say that even celebrities have credibility gaps with endorsements. I believe Tiger Woods likes Nike clubs because he wouldn’t use anything that would compromise his game. I believe Kelly Ripa likes Electrolux dishwashers because they’re paying her. Doesn’t she do like a whole lot of commercials?

    At some point endorsements that aren’t on brand for the spokesperson water down both.

    • Christine says

      The part of your post directed towards PR was spot on! :)

      I, too, hate it when bloggers rave about products when they clearly suck. Obviously opinions vary, but sell-out bloggers (yes, they are out there!) can be spotted from a mile away with their copy and paste content and press releases.

  7. says

    Thanks for sharing your perspective.

    Christine – I’m curious: Would you/do you ever share something negative/critical about a product that you otherwise like? Personally, I prefer well rounded reviews that touch on both the benefits and the drawbacks of any product. Not everyone has to use that format of course, but I wouldn’t buy-in to a mom blogger’s endorsement of a product if she only writes about the positives of things she reviews (but then I also wouldn’t buy something just because Tiger Woods smiling face is pictured next to it).

    • Christine says


      I do not consider myself a review blogger. I am, instead, a mom blogger in every sense of the term – I am a mom who blogs. I write about products and services that make family life fun. I have decided not to harp on the negative. That is not my nature, nor am a consumer reports-type blogger, but I am always honest.

      That said, I have, on occasion, included in my posts a comment or two regarding something we may not have liked about a product or service that we love, ie it was a bit pricey, it would be nice if it included this or that, etc. I am not a critical person, by nature, so doing so would have to be warranted by a true peeve, not simply because I am looking for something negative.

      The vast majority of my readers do not read my thoughts simply to hear about my likes and dislikes, instead they value my opinion and recommendations, and enjoy my stories.

    • says

      I agree with you – On Untrained Housewife I set up the policy that all reviews are to cover not only the “what is it” stuff that people need to know (ie number of pages, ISBN number, etc), but also what they liked, and what could be improved or what readers should be aware of before purchasing.

      I also don’t allow reviews of products my authors haven’t actually TOUCHED and TESTED. How else are you going to be able to say “Level 3 on this game is beyond the average 8 year old, in my opinion, but my 10 year old LOVED IT.”

      Angela <

  8. says

    I totally agree with every word you say. I trust mom bloggers over celebrities any day. I doubt that Ripa cooks or washes their own clothes. Sure Tiger has a Buick along with a lot of other cars but that doesn’t mean he drives it.

    Just because a celebrity endorses something doesn’t mean I will buy it. As for mom bloggers, if it’s a good review and something that we would use within our family, yes, I would purchase it.

    I was doing a search for holiday gift guides the other day and ran across a press release aimed towards companies looking to get their products in celebrities hands. I was astonished in how much they uphold the celebrity endorsement, mentioning that they are photographed all the time and that the people {I guess non celebrities are just called people} want to know the brand of dress that Suri Cruise is wearing, etc. I am sorry but am I the only one that could care less what brand any celebrity is wearing?

    The point is mom bloggers are far more credible when it comes to products because we actually use them and are not being paid to tell others about them.

  9. says

    I agree with you 100% on this one. I am sick and tired of all the mom bashing. A few bad seeds, and they think we’re all the same. I usually don’t write a completely negative review either, but I don’t sugar coat anything either. If there is something I don’t like about a product, I will state that. Most of the time I do like the things though because I will simply say no to something I don’t think would interest me or my family.

  10. says

    I really think some valid points are made here and I wish THIS was the article printed in the LA Times, or other media outlets that continue to miss the positive role that Mommy bloggers are playing in brands. Fortunately, I think we are blessed with a loyal audience that can see the benefits for the brand, blogger, and the consumer. You are doing an amazing job, Christine! Thanks for being an incredible role model and example!

  11. says

    I think when mommy bloggers are criticized for “selling out” the true root of the animosity is jealousy.I know I sometimes feel that way about mommy bloggers who are showered with lots of cool products but then I have to keep myself in check and realize that the reason I am being judgemental is actually because of jealousy.We all need to examine our hearts before we start jumping on people for what is really a moot point.

  12. says

    With all due respect and admiration for your success, I actually do wish you would comment on the products you pan and thus, refrain from discussing. Why? Because I’m invested in blogger product reviews as a service to the consumer. I am so deeply invested in this notion that I recently launched a blog (linked in my signature) dedicated to finding product review bloggers, mommy blogger or not, and their candid evaluations which include both pros and cons of a product. Last week I published my criteria for choosing links with an emphasis on this issue:

    “…we realize there are many review bloggers…who, if have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all…I think that to “say nothing at all” about whatever malfunctioning piece of junk you just bought and blew up as soon as you plugged it in is, well, not helpful. It is my strongly held belief that even the most genteel of bloggers can speak of their reservations about a product without compromising their otherwise polite demeanor.

    To that end, consider your product review blog to be a generous public service. If you bought something you think is awesome and you’re certain others may feel the same, sharing that positive assessment is a great help to any shopper. What may be an even greater aid to the public is to tell them to save their hard-earned wages and avoid purchasing…(a) piece of junk.”

    I don’t understand why this cannot be done. A negative review does not have to be cruel and snarky. There is a fair and civilized middle ground in crafting an evaluation of a product that misses the mark.

    I hope you will consider this perspective in the constructive spirit I extend.

    All the best,
    Grace Davis

    • Christine says


      Thank you for sharing your opinion. I just answered Annie’s questions regarding this same issue, but will reiterate here what I wrote to her…

      I do not consider myself a review blogger. I am, instead, a mom blogger in every sense of the term – I am a mom who blogs. I write about products and services that make family life fun.

      The vast majority of my readers do not read my thoughts simply to hear about my likes and dislikes, instead they value my opinion and recommendations, and enjoy my stories.

      My decision to avoid writing negative reviews will stand. While I am always honest with what I write, you will notice that I am not a consumer reports-type blogger, nor have I ever touted From Dates to Diapers as a review blog. Most of the buzz I create for companies and brands is done by way of incorporating how that product or service was enjoyed by, or benefited, my family.

      • says

        Christine, thank you for your response. I apologize that you had to repeat what you wrote earlier. But, I appreciate your effort in reaching out to me individually.

        All the best to you,

        • says

          My thoughts are with Christine on this. I don’t do negative reviews (unless the company really ticks me off). Why should I waste my time? Just because I don’t like it, doesn’t mean you won’t. That’s my attitude.

  13. says

    I’m reminded of a time when companies would have contests for moms to write their next jingles. Thousands of mothers would buy the product, send in the PoP with their entry, and one or two would get a prize.

    Mothers have always been a key demographic with marketers and I think it’s pretty cool that they are still catering to them today. Like you say, though, and like Mom-101 said, it would be very easy to ruin everything.

  14. says

    I have to totally agree with you. All the bashing back and forth is getting ridiculous. I don’t even accept reviews from products I don’t expect to like. There is nothing wrong with sharing the products you love with your online friends. Why waste your breath bashing or writing a bad review on something. Just move on.

  15. says

    Well the last paragraph kinda made me throw up in my mouth a little bit, but I think Ray made some excellent points and I totally agree.

    Would love to also hear his take on this double standard: traditional media writers receive free products and trips all the time from brands. Yet you rarely see a bad review in a newspaper or magazine. So the LA Times article could easily have replaced the term “mommy blogger” with journalist or travel writer, yet of course they choose to place bloggers under the microscope. Why? It’s getting so old!

    • says

      Alyssa, last week Blog with Integrity held a free webinar and q&a with the FTC’s Mary Engel. She clarified that the FTC is not “after bloggers” – they are looking to provide guidelines to regulate word of mouth marketing campaigns, and social media is as much a part of that as celebrity endorsements or bzz agents.

      It seems that a lot of the issue comes down to the expectation of the reader – the average reader of a magazine understands that the lipsticks came free. The average reader of a personal blog (such a new medium still!) assumes no such thing.

      I hope you’ll look for the webinar when it’s archived on vimeo. It was a really helpful session and made a lot of sense.

  16. says

    Very well said…I get so irritated when “journalists” insinuate that we are doing something wrong by not posting about items we don’t like…I just happen to be a nice person. I leave the brand bashing to the bloggers that feed on that type of drama and situation. There are also times that I receive (unsolicited) products that are in no way related to my family…am I supposed to post that the company missed the mark? No, I send the stuff to Goodwill and post about what I like to write about- our life, the things my family likes, etc.
    I also agree with the comparison to celebrities that get paid to pitch products. I certainly don’t get paid to post the reviews I do, I post them if I appreciated the product and can recommend it, in good faith, to my readers. Just like Ray said, I wonder if these celebrities actually use Maybelline and Clairol hair color.
    When I started blogging, I had no idea I would be dealing with PR firms and large companies. This whole internet thing is evolving and a previous commenter is probably on the mark- traditional media is threatened by us “mommy” bloggers. And, Christine- good for you for having such an insightful and supportive spouse!

  17. says

    Very well said! My personal favorite is when celebrities endorse political candidates. Do I vote for someone simply because Alec Baldwin says they’d make a fine public representative? NO! What if I knew Alec was paid to endorse a candidate? Would my opinions change? NO! I do my own research and form my own opinions!

    I do run a product review/giveaway blog and am a Mommy Blogger , and quite frankly I am tired of the media trying to put a negative spin on something I have worked very hard to create. I take pride in my product reviews, and take the time to thoroughly test out each product I am sent…and YES I disclose this fact in each and every post. If a product does not meet my standards, I will contact the company and let them know my dislikes before publishing. If the product is something I can find little redeeming qualities in, I move on and do not publish the review. I will not tell my readers that I loved something when I did not…I value their trust too much to be that dishonest.

  18. says

    Great post! I’ve never understood why mom bloggers were being criticized more than any other reviewers or product endorsers (celebrities included).

  19. says

    Ray: Great insight! I love hearing what you have to say! Christine: Perfect. Perfect responses in the comments!

    I am appalled at all this mommy-blogger-bashing. Honestly, I’ve re-written this comment like 12 times b/c I do not have enough nice and succinct words to write what I want.

    I have never read a mommy blog OR a review blog where I was unsure if the company sent the blogger the product or not. I have never accepted their review as the gospel truth. Not even people who I love and admire. Because HELLO–everyone is different! It’s someone’s opinion and experience.

    The thing is, before I ever got a PR pitch I was writing about my favorite products, events, shows and experiences. TIVO should be paying me money. M&Ms should want me to be their spokesmom. Disney should pay me commission! My blog is NO different than it was before my first PR pitch. And anyone with half a brain should be able to read our posts and see that for themselves.

    I appreciate Blog With Integrity and the FTC (actually, no I don’t appreciate the FTC) but I only slightly understand the point.

    OK. That’s all. Like I said, not very succinct and only slightly nice! 😉

    Love you Christine!

  20. says

    Does anyone read magazines? Does anyone who reads magazines ever consider that sometimes–just sometimes–there are advertisers who spend billions of dollars a year to have 16 full-color spreads in every magazine, every month? Now EVEN IF those advertiser’s jeans/mascara/car/shoes aren’t the best in the world, do you suppose the magazine editors won’t find it in their hearts to find a little slice of space in each issue to mention how FANTASTIC that product is? (And conversely, if the magazine boldly claimed that THE NUMBER ONE COMPETITOR’s jeans/mascara/car/shoes were indisputably superior, how long do you think that company would continue to advertise? It happens ALL the time. I have worked for magazines for 20 years, and I admit that in the very beginning I was shocked–SHOCKED–by this sort of hypocrisy. But then I remembered something my mom always said: Don’t believe everything you read. The mom who’s plugging Diet Coke over Diet Pepsi could have a hidden agenda that you’ll never know about. Maybe she’s a die-hard Seminole and she hates the Pepsi Company because they owns Gatorade, which was developed at the University of Florida (GATOR-ade), her number-one nemesis. I think it is hilarious, this whole shame-on-you-mommy-bloggers business. Anyone remember the Brady Bunch laundry-detergent commercial episode????

  21. says

    I saw the article, I laughed and tossed it into the trash. I am sick of hearing the neg. on review bloggers. but there are some review bloggers who only want the free products and that pisses me off.

    thanks for the insight Ray!

  22. Natalie says

    Great article and I really like your website.

    My husband met you at the social media weekend last Friday and mentioned that I am a piano teacher looking for students. We reside in the Elk Grove area but I would be happy to teach anyone looking for piano lessons in the Sacramento area.

    Thanks so much. I think your blog is really cool.

  23. says

    I am not going to be skeptical about this becuase I am a very big advocate of moms knowing what works best for their kids. I am sure there are a few rogue moms out there who lie for the perks or money, but I truly think these moms believe in the products they are blogging about.

  24. says

    Bloggers are individuals that also has rights. Same with journalists, bloggers are also entitled for credibility and integrity. I prefer reading product reviews from real moms through blogging than some invented anonymity of some printed in magazines

  25. cwaltz says

    Well I had this conversation on the Cowboy’s wife and I still feel the same way. If you have been compensated (and I include Kelly Ripa and Tiger Woods in this category) then I probably am going to take that into consideration when reviewing your endorsement of a product.

    It’s great that you love Tide but I find it perfectly within the realm of reason for someone to say “Hey she got 12 boxes of Tide free so perhaps that is part and parcel of the reason she likes Tide.” Does it mean it’s the SOLE reason. Of course not, but there is a reason these companies are offering things out and it has to do with creating brand loyalty and a following for their products. Furthermore, how can you honestly say Tide is “the best” if you are not even willing to give Wisk a shot? Frankly, that argument diminishes the position that she would be the best person to advise me on what the BEST product is for my household.(If you aren’t willing to try something you can’t very well compare it).

    Frankly, I don’t really know what all the hub bub is if companies want to ship women to their site to focus group them(which is basically what they are doing) and offer friendly little blurbs on how to “promote” their products more power to them. It’s advertising but whatever. It’s certainly more interactive then sitting in a house watching someone on TV. Furthermore, more power to the mothers for going. Women deserve to have a voice in the products we utilize and it is great that companies are finally realizing and understanding the purchasing power women have. I really don’t see why women aren’t applauding other women for taking the opportunity to impact brands and make a difference rather than bellyaching. Frankly, I’m proud that there are women who represent my life experiences going into the boardrooms of large companies and telling companies what kind of expectations they have when they look at a product, if they have a good time in the process, all the better.

    Disclosure: I am not a blogger. I tried once. Looked at my viewpoint as a run on sentence and decided I was a much better commenter. I do however product test and have done focus groups and was compensated for my time doing so. Does this mean I shouldn’t trust my own judgement? 😉