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July 27, 2009

BlogHer '09: An Interview with Style Guru Carson Kressley, Plus A Word About The Great Nikon Baby Incident! (Video)

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Can I just tell you that although I had a fabulous time at BlogHer '09 in Chicago, I am wiped out? All those bloggers, all those sessions, all those parties!   However, get 1500 women bloggers together in one place with their laptops and their attitudes and you're bound to not only have lots of fun but maybe a bit of controversy.

But first things, first.  One of the celebs that made an appearance at BlogHer '09 in Chicago was style maven and TV host, Carson Kressley.   Carson attended the conference to give out style tips, chat with BlogHers and also to represent BlogHer sponsor, Nikon and their "How To Look Good In Pictures" campaign.   To publicize the campaign, Nikon threw a swanky cocktail party the first night of the conference at Chicago's Flatwater club.

Though many BlogHers attended, not all of them had the chance to interview Carson like I did.  During the party, my fellow CE Laurie and I chowed down on delicious noshies--my favorite was the bacon wrapped shrimp--specialty drinks and for dessert, homemade marshmallows dipped in a chocolate fountain.  Hmmm...decadent!

There were makeup and photography tips for the BlogHers and a chance to see some of the Nikon CoolPix cameras.

Last year I did a podcast interview with the very smart and funny Kelly Park, one of the guests on Carson's Lifetime show, "How To Look Good Naked."  So I was very excited to have the chance to chat with Carson himself.

A little note about the video, because where we were sitting was dimly lit, there's flaring from the street lights behind Carson.  That'll teach me to bring a video light next time. 

Otherwise Carson was fantastic.  He talks about "How To Look Good Naked," his anticipation of the return of "Project Runway," which designer he thinks is an up and comer, and finally a special hobby he has which you may not know about.


The Great Nikon Baby Incident

Now to the Great Nikon Baby Incident as I like to call it.  The day after the Nikon party, I started seeing hashtags on Twitter that said "#nikonhatesbabies."  Curious, I discovered that a couple of women invited to the Nikon party were disinvited when they tried to bring their babies along.  Evidently the women felt that since BlogHer was such a baby friendly conference, the parties would be as well.  However, the party wasn't a BlogHer party but a sponsor party and the rules were very different.

So one of the Mom's involved facetiously put the hashtag on Twitter and before you could say "Nikon Babies," several mommybloggers took it seriously, and took high offense.  All of a sudden there were posts about how Nikon hate's babies, how Nikon hates women and especially how Nikon hates babies and women! 

Meetings were held!  Boycotts were called!  The president arrived in Chicago to negotiate!

Well--I don't know if meetings were held, boycotts were only implied, and the president came to Chicago to talk about healthcare.

From what I've read, it also seems that Nikon may not have been the problem at all, but the Flatwater club was.  The blog Eat, Play, Love put it this way:

As I have gathered, this event was not a part of the conference but rather a branding event put on by Nikon to wow and schmooze the A List Bloggers of all disciplines, not just mommy bloggers. Even more technically speaking, "Nikon" didn't actually turn these women and their babies away, the restaurant did, silly 21 and under laws.

Then the whole issue kicked into a debate about:

  1. Whether it was right for any mother to bring a baby to a cocktail party.
  2. Whether Nikon should have made it clear in advance babies weren't allowed.
  3. Whether Nikon had made a bad PR move.

Nicole at Kicking Sand thought Nikon had blundered:

My bet is that plenty of the party's attendees had a good experience, all aside, and the vocal frustration of said mommy blogger/s to get inside of the party is testament to the desire to see what Nikon had to offer. Was Nikon's brand tarnished to ever-lasting effect? No. Did it have a marketing/pr #fail? Yes. One small hiccup derailed what could have been reported to corporate as a wholly positive experience, instead turning it into one that will require a re-cap and a what-went-wrong meeting.

Kangranju at MamaPundit has since clarified her original post--which some described as outraged--as more facts came out:

My point was very limited in scope, and it addressed only one thing - my opinion that Nikon bungled the planning and execution of this single promotional event for bloggers. In my view, any time a corporate party host ends up having to literally turn away one or more of its INVITED media guests, there has been a planning misfire somewhere. 

I freely admit I don't know all the facts, but as someone who was at the party, I wouldn't have brought my baby.   It was too noisy, too crowded and just not the place for a baby.  If I had been invited and wasn't sure if I could bring my baby, I would have found out in advance. 

Finally, the only thing that bugged me a little, as a single woman without a baby, was the inference by some of the indignant mommybloggers and Twitterers, that the Nikon party and BlogHer itself was only for them.  Ladies, I hate to burst your bubble, but they were not.

Should Nikon have made it clear upfront that children weren't allowed?  Sure.  And according to the comments on MamaPundit's original post, Nikon apologized.

What I do question is the assumption that the only people Nikon was interested in reaching out to were mommybloggers--I'm single, with no kids, I spend money, and I own a Nikon.  I kinda think they were interested in having me there as well.

What do you think?  About Carson...Nikon...babies?


Related Links 

Chi-Town!  True Confessions of the Blogrollers' BlogHer '09 or Bust Road Trip

Australian Vogue's article on designer Toni Maticevski


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