You’d think that the purveyors of all things food – particularly food that is processed or from fast food spots – would, by now, have learned the dangers of working with bloggers to promote their products.
People have VERY strong feelings about all things food.
Kentucky Fried Chicken (now KFC) has introduced a new healthier kids meal, and launched it by hosting a trip for bloggers to Kentucky as well as a Twitter party. As soon as the hashtag #kfckidsmeals appeared, it began getting slammed with detractors.
Unfortunately, the bloggers on the trip began feeling attacked, and many other bloggers leaped to their defense, causing a typical social media firestorm.
The tweets were fast and furious.
— Vera Sweeney (@VeraSweeney) March 23, 2013
— Leah Segedie (@bookieboo) March 24, 2013
— Yolanda Machado (@SassyMamainLA) March 22, 2013
Jessica Gottlieb blogged about how working brands like KFC can hurt bloggers. “The problems come when bloggers are spoon-fed misleading information and no one questions the source,” states Jessica in her blog post. “The problem comes when bloggers are made to look like liars, immediately diminishing that very valuable intangible asset – integrity. Touting this low calorie meal for kids is an absurdity.”
Pretty quickly the term “bully” was thrown around, with both Jessica and another blogger – Leah Segedie of Mamavation and Bookieboo (whose mission statement for life is all about health and fitness) were accused of bullying other bloggers. Jessica responded with a second blog post saying, “Bloggers love to say that they are bullied. Often times someone disagrees with them publicly the dissenter is labeled a bully. That is not bullying.”
Leah, however, feels badly. In an email exchange to me, she states, “I just want to say that if my passion about the food supply caused any bloggers harm, I’m sorry. My intent was never to harm anyone with my tweets. I recognize that people have been referring to what happened as bullying. I don’t take the term bullying lightly. I grew up as a chubby freckled kid who was tormented. And I can remember certain instances where groups of girls ganged up on me so badly that I ran into the bathroom to lock the door and sobbed for hours. It totally sucks. And makes me feel awful that my actions might have made others feel that way.”
But nonetheless, Leah is absolutely committed to creating a healthier world. “We are eating toxic food, using toxic personal care products and breathing toxic air,” she continues. “And it’s literally killing us, but more so our children. And it’s not like this in other countries. Only the US. When a multi-million dollar company like KFC says they are healthier because they have a 210 calorie kids meal, I see red because it’s bullshit. It’s called “health-washing” and I turn down clients everyday that desperately want to work with Mamavation because they are health-washers.”
What do you think? Was there bullying, or just passionate discussion? Share your thoughts in the comments, but I can tell you one thing: far more of us now know about this new kids meal than before so the brand wins, right?
It’s worth mentioning that I’m personally friendly with nearly all the players here, and think they are all pretty great.