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As an active member of the breastfeeding community for nearly two decades I have seen so much marketing of formula from a personal place and for new parents. The marketing gets more and more clever and nefarious each day.

I was once helping a mom and baby in an apartment building in New York City where one has to be buzzed in. I was with this family for about an hour and a half. The buzzer never buzzed and the doorbell never rang. Upon my departure I nearly fell over a box of formula. The mom had not ordered this.

Currently infant formula manufacturers make formula specifically for breastfeeding moms. Why? Is it really different? Breastfeeding is the biggest market competitor for formula companies.

It was very exciting for me when, in 2012, Mayor Bloomberg took the marketing of formula out of New York City hospitals. Many people were upset by this action. They claimed that they were being bullied into breastfeeding. They were angry that they were not getting their “free” gift from the hospital. This was not the case at all.

What they did not realize is that by giving these “free” gift bags the citizens and patients were actually paying for these goodies.

When a hospital gives away promotional items they are endorsing this product and they are using human power to handle these items. These “free” gift bags are taking up precious real estate in our already crowded hospitals. This is FREE advertising for the pharmaceutical industry. FREE advertising. Those guys have plenty of cash to buy advertising but why spend it when the hospital will do it for free?

In May of 1980 the 27th World Health Assembly endorsed the WHO/UNICEF recommendation that “There should be an international code of marketing of infant formula and other products used as breast-milk substitutes.”

This is important because we know that breastfeeding rates decline where formula is marketed.

This is not an anti-formula campaign rather it is a recommendation to support healthy outcomes both long term and short term. The campaign is designed to take an ethical approach to promote breastfeeding as the normal way to feed babies.

Unfortunately the United States has not agreed to this recommendation.

On this anniversary the Public Citizen’s campaign to End Infant Formula Marketing in Healthcare Facilities is firing up to bring awareness to the continued marketing of formula in the US.

They are encouraging participants to use social media to get the message across by making signs that say “No Formula Ads in Hospitals” or “Follow the WHO Code.”

As an advocate for breastfeeding families I will join this day of action. What will you do to promote breastfeeding?

 

 

Formula and Clinique

July 18, 2012

Why are people up in arms about Mayor Bloomberg banning formula “gift” bags in NYC hospitals?

People think he is taking away a woman’s right to choose how to feed her baby. No, this is not the case.

Let’s talk about marketing.  Basically the hospitals are marketing formula and they are not getting paid for this.  In fact, it takes money to manage the storage and distribution of this product. Yes, the product. Formula is a product. The formula industry is a for-profit enterprise.

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Let’s take Clinique. I love Clinique Bonus time.

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I even subscribe to an e-mail alert system that tells me when and where Clinique is having their next Bonus. I remember in high school going to the Cross creek Mall with Mama and Traci and we would go to Thalhimers or Belk to the make-up counter and inquire about the next Clinique Bonus. Eventually the finely made-up ladies behind the counter saw we were loyal consumers and would clue us in – the Spring Bonus starts next week. Or the Fall Bonus is begins October 3.  I became a customer. Not so much of Thalhimer’s or Belk but of Clinique. You had to spend a minimum amount of money to get the “gift.” This is how is started using Clinique lipstick and mascara. For many years I wore Crystal Violet. I was truly saddened when they discontinued that color – it was what I wore on my wedding day.

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I never thought I would like myself in a frosted lipstick until I got a sample of Heather Moon – my replacement for Crystal Violet. I use Bamboo Pink on those days I don’t wear make-up – like when I go to the beach or gym (yes, I wear lipstick to the gym but that is all – I have very pale lips and well, I am a southern woman.)

I even became a Freelance Fragrance/Make-up Model in the late 80’s when I moved to New York and was a struggling actor. I loved getting the Clinique gig! Twice a year at Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdales and Saks.  I learned a thing or two about make-up and I learned a thing or two about the cut-throat Store Modeling industry. But I always got the Bonus!

I don’t use every thing that comes with the Bonus. I used to trade items with Mama and Traci. Then I gave the unused products to varying roommates and friends. Now, I share with my daughters.

I would be sad if Clinique stopped their Bonus. But I don’t think they will. They got me hooked over twenty years ago and there are millions more to hook to keep them in business.

They spend lots of money promoting their product. The lines at the Clinique counters during Bonus time can be more competitive than getting the Select bus at 14th and First at 9:00am (lots of shoving and elbows.) The last Clinique Bonus I got just recently at Lord & Taylor took up a good percentage of the first floor. They will rotate it for the next Lancome or Estee Lauder Bonus.

This is what the hospitals do so freely.  They donate their space for the formula companies to store their product. The companies that make the formula make the hospitals sign a contract to only give their brand. This then makes the parents of new babies believe that the hospital endorses this specific brand. And guess what? By giving away this product the hospital is endorsing the Brand.

Formula companies want your business. The formula industry rakes in billions of dollars annually. And your hospital is helping to promote and pay for the promotion of their product.

And, it has been proven over and over that when formula is promoted breastfeeding is compromised.

If you want to feed your baby formula no one is stopping you.