About a month ago I attended a Tastefully Simple party at my friend, Julie's home (she's a consultant). Tastefully Simple is one of those multi-level marketing things, like Pampered Chef or Southern Living at Home. It features gourmet food products that make your life easier - dip mixes, spices, jams, beer bread mix, etc.
I wrote about the party on my cooking blog, This Mama Cooks! I raved about the products (they were pretty darn tasty) and I provided a link to Julie's consultant site.
After thanking me for the post, and getting a couple of sales out of it, she forwards me an email from the home office:
I received the following link from another consultant furious with this site. There are multiple policy violations on this site Julie. Even if this is not your site, you must talk to this individual and have her remove all Tastefully Simple Intellectual Property from this site. There can be no company name, product names, links to your website or to Tastefully Simple. Can I have you talk to this individual and have this information removed as soon as possible? I am going to check this again in 2 days to ensure that this information has been removed. If it is not, I am going to have to give out a policy violation to you since it is your name on the website. Let me know if you have any questions for me Julie.
HQ Office Live Coordinator
O.K., they had me dead to rights on the product photos and names, since their privacy/copyright policy does state that they can't be used without permission. Even so, asking me to take the entire post down - especially the link to her site - seemed a bit outrageous. It just smacked of a violation of freedom of the press which I assume covers bloggers, too.
Since I didn't want to get Julie in trouble, I took it down immediately and sent Travis the following email:
The review of Julie’s Tastefully Simple home show and a link to her website have been removed from my cooking blog, This Mama Cooks! at her request. However, the review will be available as a cached document on search engines like Google until they update their servers. This is beyond my control unfortunately.
As a freelance writer and journalist, I review cookbooks and food and kitchen products regularly on my blog (sometimes at the request of publishers and manufacturers) and have never had to pull a post. So I’m puzzled to why Tastefully Simple does not allow reviews of home shows and links to a consultant’s website or use of product names.
I did read your privacy/legal policy after Julie emailed me, and understand that posting the product photos was out of line, but not the review of the products and how much I enjoyed them. It’s too bad since my blog receives 1500-2100 hits a week and was a way for Tastefully Simple and Julie to get some free publicity.
I was really hoping to get a reply, even if it was just repeating their copyright policy. However, I heard nothing. Not a peep. Not even a darn "thank you for your cooperation" email.
The idea that a fellow Tastefully Simple consultant turned Julie in just amazes me, along with their restrictions on advertising. I'm an Usborne Books consultant. Usborne is very liberal about how you advertise. You can have your own website (I have an Usborne blog that links to my Usborne created ordering site). You can place ads in newspapers, newsletters, etc. They foster a DIY mentality by encouraging the download of consultant-created documents on their FTP site. Also, Usborne consultants are extremely supportive of each other. We have message boards where people can get their questions answered by other consultants. It's a community and we pass out leads whenever possible. Also, the home office is extremely helpful.
So instead of seeking free publicity (and additional sales) for their consultants, Tastefully Simple has a writer in the blogosphere who is down on them. I'll never recommend them as a MLM business for SAHMs. And it'll be a long time before I place an order with Julie - I'm just that pissed off.