Brands vs. babies: Paid content and authenticity in Canadian mommy blogs



Blogs, Blogging, Mommy bloggers, Brand, Paid influencers, Cultural intermediaries, Source credibility, Authenticity, Credibility, Audience-as-commodity, Public relations, Paid media


This study examines the influencers with the specific interest of parenting during a specific period in early 2017 when what were then called ‘Mommy Bloggers’ were charging public relations firms and the brands they represent upwards of $2,000 per blog post to write favourable product reviews. Findings revealed their business model and ability to continue selling their audience as a commodity was in jeopardy as audience trust in bloggers was on the decline compared to any other information source about brands; new, albeit vague, regulations (not laws) required the blogger to disclose any commercial relationship; and qualitative studies revealed audience negative opinion of the takeover of commercial content and resulting lost sense of community. Using determinants of authenticity as a measure of a blogger’s ability to maintain her audience with a personal narrative, a quantitative content analysis of 290 blog posts published by 30 of the top parenting bloggers in Canada was used to demonstrate with correlations that paid content was threatening authenticity and that a blogger’s legitimacy as an influencer was being weakened by commercial content.                                                  

©Journal of Professional Communication, all rights reserved.

Author Biography

Donna J. Lindell, Centennial College

Donna Lindell is professor and program coordinator for the award-winning post-graduate public relations program offered at Centennial College in Toronto, Canada. Donna has held many leadership roles in the public relations industry over a 25+-year career: in association; agency; and as vice president corporate communications at a global corporation, where she spearheaded the global communications efforts for the largest Initial Public Offering in Canadian history (at the time). She was named one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2003 for her career achievements. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa and a Masters of Public Relations from Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax.


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