As surely as World Breastfeeding Week occurs each year from August 1-7, advocates can expect that baby food industry marketing staff are ready to take advantage of the attention to advance their own goals. This is not a new practice and happens among global brands as well as local companies that have obligations under the Code.
At a time where public health advocates are under ongoing strain from the global pandemic and parents find themselves often with fewer services and supports available, predatory marketing is particularly harmful and, yet, seems to be accelerating in the vacuum. While inadvertent (or ill-advised!) sharing of industry content can happen at any time, it is particularly common and problematic during WBW when attention is focused on breastfeeding.
Evaluate all content from commercial entities carefully: this content is created to promote the company, not the message. It’s easy enough to spot many brands that make infant formula or bottles and teats for those in the field, but those creating and sharing on social media may not have this expertise. High production values that come with big corporate budgets can be very convincing. An emotive message that resonates often triggers a share before a full assessment of the quality of a post can be made.
Consider a blanket prohibition on the use of corporate content, even if the company does not make products covered under the Code, as conflicts of interest may require significant resources to identify. In addition to brands themselves, industry organizations and paid media are frequently sources of inappropriate content promoted directly to health care workers and the public. Focusing on resources produced by organizations whose goals are aligned with the BFHI, such as public health departments and independent non-governmental organizations ensures not only quality but also helps to build relationships that support your joint work all year long.
Looking for some good places to begin? Have a look at last week’s post for links and ideas: WABA’s “Action Folder” is an excellent summary of goals for each sector.
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