Friday, January 16, 2009

John Lewis violating children's rights with breach of baby bottle marketing standards

Lot's of people have been contacting us about the John Lewis Baby feeding advisors promoting Avent feeding bottles in stores in the UK.

If you went along, reports of what you were told and scans of materials you may have received (or pop copies in the post) are most welcome. Report using the forms at:

This is a blatant violation of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.

Article 2: The Code applies to the marketing, and practices related thereto, of the following products: ... feeding bottles and teats.

Article 5. The general public and mothers

5.1 There should be no advertising or other form of promotion to the general public of products within the scope of this Code.

5.2 Manufacturers and distributors should not provide, directly or indirectly, to pregnant women, mothers or members of their families, samples of products within the scope of this Code.

5.3 In conformity with paragraphs 1 and 2 of this Article, there should be no point-of-sale advertising, giving of samples, or any other promotion device to induce sales directly to the consumer at the retail level, such as special displays, discount coupons, premiums, special sales, loss leaders and tie-in sales, for products within the scope of this Code....

5.5 Marketing personnel, in their business capacity, should not seek direct or indirect contact of any kind with pregnant women or with mothers of infants and young children.

We are discussing with the authorities what action can be taken. There is a problem in the UK, however. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child explained it in October 2008 when it's report on the UK stated it: "is concerned that implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes continues to be inadequate and that aggressive promotion of breastmilk substitutes remains common."

Marketing regulations for bottles and teats are less than inadequate, they are not included in the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations, which the government points to as its implementation of the Code.

The feeding bottle promotion is being done along Avent breastpumps, but there is reason to be seriously concerned at the message the John Lewis Baby feeding advisors will be giving out. This is what they say on the John Lewis website : "There’s been a lot of talk, and quite a bit of controversy, about which is best for baby - breast or bottle."

If the advisors have not even read the 'breastfeeding is best for babies' message on formula or the reasons for it, what can be expected of them?

Certainly all mothers need support and information, but company representatives with a vested interest in selling products are not the best people to be targeting mothers.

Please let us know your experience if you went to an event in what was billed as 'Avent Feeding Awareness Week' or are able to go this weekend.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In reply to an email I got the following from a John Lewis store:

"This is an internal event that has been organized between John Lewis and Phillips Avent. We will be providing information and demonstrations on Phillips Avent products. We are offering a 20% discount on selected products.

We will also have our Nursery Advisor on hand to book free appointments. Some branches will have representatives from Phillips Avent in store. The details of which branches can be found on .

I hope this has answered your query."