This past weekend, biotech giant Monsanto paid bloggers $150 each to attend “an intimate and interactive panel” with “two female farmers and a team from Monsanto.” The strictly invitation-only three-hour brunch, which took place on the heels of the BlogHer Conference, promised bloggers a chance to learn about “where your food comes from” and to hear about the “impact growing food has on the environment, and how farmers are using fewer resources to feed a growing population.” Though the invitation from BlogHer explicitly stated, “No blog posts or social media posts expected,” the event was clearly designed to influence the opinions — and the writing — of a key influencer: the mommy blogger.
Another invite-only event in August will bring bloggers to a Monsanto
facility in Northern California for a tour of its fields and research
labs. Again, while no media coverage is expected, the unspoken goal is
Stealth marketing techniques, such as these by Monsanto, reveal how
the food industry — from biotech behemoths to fast-food peddlers — is
working surreptitiously to shape public opinion about biotechnology,
industrialized farming and junk food.
We’ve come a long way from Don Draper’s whisky-infused ad concepts
meant for old-style print publications. As our media landscape has
changed, Big Ag has changed along with it, devising marketing to take
advantage of this new terrain and influence the people and platforms —
not just journalists and newspapers — that shape our understanding of
farming and the health impacts of biotechnology and junk food.
Sean Timberlake, who has been blogging for nearly a decade, characterized industry’s move into the social media space as “sweeping and vast.”http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/8/food-agriculturemonsantogmoadvertising.html