Food Blogger Gets Corporate Endorsement Deal
The blogger behind Chez Pim, Pim Techamuanvivit, announced her "partnership" with Rachel's, a line of yogurt and cottage cheese: "I will also be doing some TV, radio, as well as print interviews for Rachels, sort of as a brand cheerleader,..." Banner ads and book deals only pay the bills so much, and corporate sponsorships are just the next logical step.
The blog post announcing the deal is full of PR-speak hyperbole:
And with a new line of cottage cheese that’s just launching, you’ll get even more unusual flavors like Pear Mangosteen, Lemon Verbena Berry, and even savory flavors like Cucumber Dill and Roasted Red Pepper. They are totally taking such a boring product like cottage cheese and making it fun and exciting enough for me to pick up at the grocery store.
But let's cut through the bullshit, shall we? Pim doesn't come out and say it (in fact, she turns verbal cartwheels to imply that the brand is virtuous and independent), but Rachel's isn't some happy indie brand of yogurt.
Rachel's, the brand, is owned by the WhiteWave Foods Company, which in turn is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dean Foods, whose portfolio of brands includes Horizon Organic, Silk soy milk, International Delight coffee creamer, Friendship dairy products, and Land O' Lakes Butter, just to name a few. Dean Foods also runs DSD Dairy, the largest processor and distributor of milk and other dairy products in the country. In 2007, Dean Foods, as a whole, had net sales of $11.8 billion.
This is just how organic brandwashing goes these days — the truth is that if a product is in a supermarket, it's owned by some big corporate parent, no matter the back story on the website or pictures of happy cows on the packaging. The multiple levels of obfuscation and the intentional omission of the corporate parent's name makes it all seem somewhat disingenuous.
(Sidebar hilarity: The Rachel's launch event was at Tailor, who are obviously desperate for money, what with their bankruptcy and everything.)
Update: Kim Severson got in touch with Pim and wrote a post for the New York Times Diner's Journal blog:
I don’t know of any other prominent blogger who’s made an endorsement like this. With food bloggers struggling to define what, if any, formal ethical guidelines they should follow, does the move by Chez Pim throw gasoline on the fire?
According to her, no.
“It’s a great relationship between blogging and branding,” she said in a telephone interview this afternoon. “It’s not like somebody gave me two pieces of kobe so I will write about kobe. This is a business now.”