National Pork Board Goes After Breastfeeding Search Marketer

Last year, well-known search marketer Jennifer Laycock set up the Lactivist project, where she explained step-by-step how to market a new web site on a budget. Part of the project were the funny shirts she sold to promote breastfeeding, including one called "The Other White Milk." Turns out the National Pork Board thinks that violates their trademark on the phrase "The Other White Meat."

Jennifer has more in her post, Overzealous Big Pork Stomps on Breastfeeding Blogger. They’ve sent her a number of demands, plus suggested she’s trying to promote some type of adult breastfeeding fetish. I like the part in the letter that explains:

The Other White Meat has become instantly recognizable and famous in connection with the promotion of the pork industry. In addition to the use of these marks on pork products themselves, these marks are also used to promote high quality pork products….

I’ve heard breasts called many things but never have I heard them considered pork or pork products. Ditto breastmilk.

Yep, saying "The Other White Milk" does call to mind the famous pork slogan, as the letter (PDF) points out. But I don’t think anyone thinks the National Pork Board is somehow endorsing Jennifer’s shirts nor that the shirts somehow tarnish the reputation of the pork slogan. Frankly, the letter to Jennifer tarnishes the National Pork Board’s reputation more than her T-shirts could possibly have done. But they’ll find that out soon enough.

We know where this is all going. In short order, the threat will get pulled. But we’ve all got to yammer on about the absurdity first. So motors started. Blogosphere, time to sound off. Two suggestions here.

First, drop the National Pork Board a line through this contact form. They’ve given her until 5pm Mountain Time on Feb. 5 to respond. The counter-action from our end is they have until that time to stop a link bombing campaign in her support.

And that campaign? Well, if they keep going after her, I saw everyone links to Jennifer’s article this way: Back Off National Pork Board. I’ve made that nofollow for now. But with no-nofollow links like that from across the web, there’s a pretty good chance the article will start ranking well for the phrase "National Pork Board."

But I thought you just wrote about it how Google stopped link bombs! I did, not that you can find the article in Google anywhere — everyone else referencing it, sure, but not the article! But I digress.

The fix is only designed to stop link bombs against pages that do NOT want to be found for particular terms. Jennifer talks about the National Pork Board in her article, as it makes sense to do. She has an excellent chance of ranking well for it.

So c’mon National Pork Board, do the right thing. Make a donation to some groups that support breastfeeding while you’re at it.

Postscript: Jennifer’s story is now popular on Digg here.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Link Building: Link Bombs | SEM Industry: Community

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About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • robertclough

    Thank you for providing coverage of this!

  • http://www.seomoz.org randfish

    Danny, why are you using a “nofollow”? Do you not actually support Jennifer’s effort to take over those rankings? Were you paid for that link? Do you not editorially vouch for the quality of her blog?

    Very confusing…

  • http://searchengineland.com Danny Sullivan

    OK, to be clear, I was saying that they’ve given Jennifer a deadline of Feb. 5. My suggestion is the search marketing community give them the same deadline to back off. If they don’t, then the link bomb goes off. I mean, they deserve some dose of bad publicity from this, but they also deserve a chance to do the right thing.

  • http://www.seobythesea.com Bill Slawski

    The National Pork Board is comprised of members of the Pork Industry appointed and overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). It’s possible that some complaints to US Senators and Representatives could have some impact upon this, too.

  • http://randfish randfish

    OK, I’m with you Danny. The whole – don’t make pull this “nofollow” off my link thing is pretty awesome, actually. Like putting on the brass knuckles and rubbing them without actually hitting the guy.

    You really are the Tony Soprano of the search world. :)

  • http://joeduck.wordpress.com JoeDuck

    Great idea Danny – count me in.

    Hmmm – Jennifer may soon be able to say she’s got the Pork Board by their Oscar Mayer —- ?

  • http://hauntingthunder.wordpress.com Neuro

    I thought every one knew that Spoo was the “Other White Meat”.

    Did JMS ever get a letter from the Pork Board

  • http://theonlinemarketingguy.com/ sportsguy

    Time for a pork roast, I say. :)

    Man, never thought I’d see the day when Piglet would go postal, but here we are.

    Consider this all linked up.

    Sad – lawyers trying to justify their retainers, IMO.

    Go Jen!

  • http://sethf.com/ Seth Finkelstein

    “I did, not that you can find the article in Google anywhere” …

    Hey, that’s interesting. I dug around:

    The Miserable Failure Of A Google Bombs Article Search Ranking

    You can find it high ranked for many phrases but not others, seems to be different algorithms depending on something (maybe anchor text phrase popularity).

  • chris boggs

    WOW. Just finally got online today to find this. What an amazing crock. I really hope that one of the major networks runs with this. I also would love to see someone do a handwriting analysis of the lawyer’s signature on the PDF.

    The fact that they insinuate that it violates their trademark is one thing, but the pork board made a HUGE mistake in claiming that she was promoting something other than the breastfeeding of children in this campaign. Only the same people that would think the idea of a “pork board” was kind of funny would even possibly think that (except Ian :p).

    What a bunch of idiots.

  • http://www.ilw.com Sam

    Dear Danny:

    Thanks for taking a stand on this. The breastfeeding cause deserves support.

    Yours truly,
    Sam

    P.S. If the National Pork Board does not back off, I am going off pork completely.

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