Paige Schilt

I Want Free Stuff

Filed By Paige Schilt | July 01, 2009 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living, The Movement
Tags: feminism, free stuff, giveaways, LGBT marketing, marketing

Last week I attended a six-year-old's birthday party. After pizza and ice cream and cake, the kids were working off their sugar highs by running and wrestling and generally acting like maniacs. The parents were huddled around the booze.

One of the dads in attendance, a straight male Internet entrepreneur, was extolling the latest marketing trend: apparently, companies are giving loads of free stuff to so-called "mommy bloggers" and "daddy bloggers." This guy has gotten everything from an iPod to a Diaper Genie, just for a mention on his parenting site.

"Paige is a mommy blogger," said an incredibly-supportive-straight-mom-who-reads-my-blog.

Suddenly, everyone at the table turned to look at me.

I know, right? Where's my free stuff?

Thus far, the only swag I've gotten for being a mommy blogger is the pink soap that Bil and Jerame gave me at Christmas. (For the record, it was excellent. I used it to bathe my son and it did not dry out his skin or give him a rash.)

I decided to do a little research of my own, and I came across DigitalMom, a report published by social networking site CafeMom and the marketing firm Razorfish. There I learned that "today's mom" is "way beyond programming the VCR, checking answering machine messages, and emailing."

Wow. You know what? We can also detect condescension.

Although DigitalMom's market research found that the "socially networked mom" is increasingly likely to base purchasing decisions on word of mouth from "people like me" (quotation marks in the original), I personally don't click on those Facebook ads that tout "one mom's" triumph over belly fat. I just feel annoyed.

Still, my dip into market research did confirm that Mommy blog marketing is a real and thriving phenomenon. But it didn't totally explain why I am missing out on the mommy swag.

Is it because I've been known to rail against the commodification of queer culture? Hey, I'm not above endorsing a product I really like--check out this recent post about How Motherhood Earned Me a Free Sex Toy.

Or am I missing out because it's still taboo to talk about childhood and homosexuality or gender variation in the same breath?

Perhaps the marketing experts who tout gay people as trendsetters just aren't talking to the marketing experts who promote "Word of Mom?" By my reckoning, queer parents should be the ultimate trendsetters: chic yet down-to-earth, exotic with a populist twist.

In case any forward-thinking marketing professionals would like to tap into this goldmine, here's a partial list of free stuff I would be happy to receive:

  1. A mini-DV camera, preferably Sony or Canon. (When I'm not documenting rallies and marches and queer performance happenings, I promise to upload beaucoup cute clips of my gayby saying the darndest things.)
  2. Pride t-shirts in a child's size 6.
  3. Books and movies about parenting to review.
  4. Books and movies not about parenting to review.
  5. A stylish fanny-pack (for hands-free parenting at the aforementioned marches, rallies, and queer performance happenings).
  6. Wigs. I really love wigs.
  7. A Coleman camping stove. Every lesbian family needs one.
  8. Boxes of home-delivered organic veggies. I will be happy to exploit-the-stereotypes-of-my-people-as-granola-eaters as long as you send me some fresh berries.

Don't you want me to be your poster mom?

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David Castillo David Castillo | July 1, 2009 10:01 PM

You sound like the coolest mom. Where's the swag for just general coolness?

I love this.

Maybe Dana or Sara can give you the hook-up? If there is a market for free stuff queer mommies, they'd know about it.

Good thing you asked for books and movies, though. We're a high-brow site, and that seems to be most of the swag we get to review.

I tend to get a lot of offers from publicists, but they are clearly not even scanning my blog before sending me their boilerplate messages. The condescension ("Like your readers, most of today's moms are stylish trendsetters..." etc.) is obvious.

Fact is, most of their products aren't of interest to me--beauty or cleaning products that I wouldn't use and have no interest in recommending. (If they want to alert my readers, they can always buy an ad.)

There's also a fine line between receiving a modestly-priced item for an honest review and being a shill for the company. Personally, I'd rather they just buy an ad rather than assume I'll use my time to give them free publicity. (I suppose you could go a ways getting free stuff and not writing about it, but I suspect that well would dry up rather soon.)

One resource for Mommy blogger products, however, is Mom Central, which has a number of opportunities to receive products from the publicists/companies they work with. Decide for yourself whether to do them as paid reviews (MC pays for some, though not all reviews, or offers coupons and such) or waive the fee. (Some ad networks require that you don't do any paid reviews.)

For most LGBT-related stuff, I've found it's a lot of digging around and keeping my eyes peeled. No special secrets there, I'm afraid.

We get a ton of offers daily - most of which we pass up since, as Dana points out, they're just not relevant. Some I take them up on just because they sound fun - like the taste test party we had for pre-prepared meals.

I think I'll approach this more as an online performance project, rather than an earnest attempt to get free stuff. I wonder how many mommy marketing circles will allow me to join in the name of my personal blog, How to Bring Your Kids Up Queer? I tend to write about raising kids with queer and feminist values, and I'm curious how accommodating the big tent of "diverse moms" really is.