Formula marketing revisted

Avatar for luv_my_boyz
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2003
Formula marketing revisted
Tue, 05-27-2003 - 8:16pm
I've heard it said on this board regarding formula marketing and advertising that the companies are competing against each other, not against breastfeeding. That doesn't seem to be the case in this marketing scenario:

I'm particularly interested in the last paragraph:

"The goal was to provide accurate, documented information so that future coverage on the editorial pages would present the facts fairly. The editorial board briefings were successfully conducted over a period of several months. No negative editorial appeared in any newspaper subsequent to a visit by the company team. Ultimately, the issue subsided."

This firm was representing the "U.S. formula industry" as an aggregate. Who are they concerned about maintaining thier "reputation" for? Could it possibly be that they want to maintain their reputation for the 4 million new mothers who will be making a feeding/nurturing choice between bf/ff over the next year? This looks to me like more than the matter of one brand over another!


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 05-27-2003 - 9:04pm
Interesting you brought it up, as I was thinking about best how to talk about this...

I got this off a mailing list, and have permission to share it is from an IBCLC in Israel.

"Several years ago, there was a panel consisting of reps of all the

artificial milk companies here in Israel, a LLL leader, and a rep from the

Health ministry. Each was allowed to give an opening statement, and then

the panel would start. The audience was new mothers and pregnant women who

had come to a baby fair which is basically a huge commercial conference with

everyone pushing their wares at pregnant and new mothers. There were

lectures and panels in the auditoriums all day.

Each company rep started with the " Of course breast milk is the best for

babies BUT..." and the buts were clever. If you were not an LC you might be

fooled by the statement that artificial milk is good to have around if the

mother cannot breastfeed as in cases where she is taking antibiotic (?) or

if the baby has jaundice (?) or if the mother is sick (?). ( Don't worry, I

blasted her on that one.)

The LLL leader made a simple statement: when you are listening to our

discussion, keep in mind that I am the only one here who does not benefit

financially from what I am representing here........the artificial milk

companies benefit financially if the mother does not breastfeed, and the

health ministry benefits if mothers do breastfeed by saving money, etc.

Each formula rep started her shtick about how this company puts iron in the

formula. The next one cited references why iron is bad, and said how her

company puts LCPUFA for brain development, and the next rep blasted both

with up-dated references on the dangers of those and other additives to

artificial milk. We heard about the dangers of soy, and the dangers of

coconut oil which one company was just starting to use. And all from the

companies themselves, with detailed research to back every word. The LLLL

sat back and smiled smugly, as we all did, but the audience grew more

agitated as the discussion became more and more heated!! The Health Ministry

said that they have no control over what goes into artificial milk.

A sweet little grandfatherly man sitting in the back asked a question. He

introduced himself as a doctor who is about to become a grandfather, and a

member of the ethics committee that gives permission for research projects.

He said that he was in shock by what he just heard. He said that what is

happening here is like a huge research project with no control, and in the

light of what had been discussed here, he would make sure that his

grandchildren would never taste one drop of the artificial stuff. This was

filmed by one of the organizers, but interesting how the film got


This would be a great thing to do at a conference: invite all the artificial

milk companies, and let them bash each other!!"

My only thought is that it sure makes their credibility look like it's going down the drain, esp. when they have detailed studies on the dangers of the competition's additives.


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-08-2003
Tue, 05-27-2003 - 9:11pm
I see it this way. They are competing to sell their product over the next leading formula and fighting to keep their name in your house over the store brands that are becoming popular. And secondly, for those mothers who cannot or will not be breastfeeding they are marketing a product we will need. I don't see it as trying to "win over" undecided mothers any more than I see it as trying to lead astray breastfeeders to wean and switch to formula.

While formula or breast milk is the sole nutrition for at least the first 6 mo. of a babies' life I still see strong comparisons in the marketing that is no different from McDonald's promoting their happy meals and those toys to reel kids into their restaurants or for the sugary cereals over good old fashion oatmeal.

I just have a very different perspective on the whole marketing analogy.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 05-27-2003 - 10:13pm
Why do you have a problem with this statement?

"The goal was to provide accurate, documented information so that future coverage on the editorial pages would present the facts fairly."

Taking it at face value, I can't find fault with wanting to provide accurate information and present facts fairly.


Avatar for cl_sunny_side_up
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 05-27-2003 - 10:54pm
Am I dense?? I didn't read that article the same way you did at all. Did I miss something?? ~~I am not being *smart*....



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 05-28-2003 - 7:55am
Honestly- has anyone really been influenced one way or another by formula marketing? Everyone I know that made up their minds one way or another did so for very personal reasons. I'm talking about my generation- my Mom's story is quite different, as FF was the only norm.

FWIW, I only know two people that chose to FF. One because she had a breast reduction, and another because she had such a hard time BF'ing her first. Everyone I know gave BF a try, even the moms that are now FF.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Wed, 05-28-2003 - 10:14am
I agree. I might be influenced to buy the Swiffer Wet Jet over the Clorox Ready Mop (it sprays so much farther LOL!) but I'm not going to decide to give my child formula over breastmilk 'cause the Carnation commercial said so. I just don't let advertising decide that stuff for me. I can even *sort of* see how it might be tempting to have that sample can around while having BF difficulties, but here we're just talking about providing information. I don't see the issue here, I'm just totally missing it.



iVillage Member
Registered: 05-08-2003
Wed, 05-28-2003 - 10:47am
My choice to formula feed had absolutely nothing to do with any sort of marketing ploy. My choice of which formula to use after making the choice to formula feed is only based partly not solely on marketing. But like with any product as a consumer I do place value and importance on marketing and I do listen and look for it as part of my decision making process, but not solely.