Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Help save one million babies and win US$100!!

I get a little fed up with the promotions of the baby food companies. Things like this in the UK:

"To celebrate its sponsorship of Living TV's Baby Zone, SMA Progress are offering five readers the chance to win a digital camera with a Lexmark P450 photo printer, as well as the chance for their little stars to have their first five minutes of fame on Living TV and the Baby Zone website."

"To celebrate the fact that SMA Nutrition is sponsorting the Baby Zone on LIVINGtv and LIVINGtv2, we are giving you the chance to win a fantastic Sony Digital Video Cam!…. But that's not all, three runners up will receive £50 in Early Learning Centre vouchers!"

Inducements to get mothers onto the SMA database or to call the SMA Careline or visit the website where infant formula is promoted with idealizing claims.

The competition involved submitting baby pictures. Many who follow up the promotion, of course, will do so saying: "Why not? I may win something, and I won't be influenced".

For the companies it is a small investment and targeting mothers directly in this way is a key part of their marketing strategy. It is also explicitly prohibited by the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.

So I will be totally up front and say this offer of US$100 is intended to encourage you to visit a website and to be influenced. Though you won't be targeted with promotional materials. And before someone gets smart, as we are not a company marketing or distributing breastmilk substitutes this is not violating the Code.

It is part of the preparations for World Breastfeeding Week, an annual event promoted by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), of which Baby Milk Action is a member. The week runs from 1-7 August and has a different theme each year.

Last year the theme was the 25th anniversary of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and we coordinated gathering evidence of company violations in the UK to submit to WABA's global spot monitoring project during the week.

This year the theme is: "Breastfeeding: The 1st Hour – Save ONE million babies!"

That's how many babies could be saved around the world every year if breastfeeding was initiated in the first hour. That is how powerful the properties of breastmilk are. The studies are cited in the paper on the WABA website.

There is also information on the competition, which also involves submitting baby pictures.

Here is what it says on the website:

Feature your breastfeeding photos in this year’s Action Folder!

We are organising a global breastfeeding photography contest for WBW 2007.

10 winning photos will be selected, and contributors whose photos are featured in the Action Folders will be awarded US$100 for each published photo.

Send us your photos by 15 March 2007.

Tell YOUR story through your photos – Grab your camera and start clicking away!

So you could win US$100 and have your picture go around the world in the campaign to help save babies lives!!

Why not.

And if you don’t win, you may be influenced by what you read anyway.

That, after all, is the point.

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