Marketing Practices that Violate the Code
Manufacturers pay lip service to breastfeeding, but actually promote infant formula, follow-on milks, and other baby foods with one aim in mind—to increase product sales. The most common marketing activities that violate the Code are promotions directly to mothers and promotions through the health care system.
Direct promotion to mothers
Advertising and other forms of promotion to the public are banned under Article 5 of the Code. This includes
- Advertising on tv, the internet, in shopping malls, newspapers, magazines, and at baby shows
- Free samples, gifts, and competition prizes
- Discounts and in store promotions
- Sponsored baby clubs, parenting clubs, and “expert advice”
- “Educational” pamphlets and brochures on infant feeding
- Posters in shops, hospitals and pharmacies, brand names and logos on equipment, pens, pads etc.
To get around these restrictions, companies promote growing-up milks (targeting children 1 -2 years old) to the public, which have the same brand name and logo as their infant formulas. Manufacturers claim that these promotions do not violate the Code, because they say growing-up milks are not breastmilk substitutes.
However, doctors and WHO recommend that children benefit from breastfeeding until two years of age or longer, making milk products promoted for infants under two years a breastmilk substitute and subject to Code provisions.
Seeking direct and indirect contact with pregnant women and mothers of infants and young children (defined as children up to three years of age) is also prohibited by the Code. Yet most companies operate telephone and email Carelines and advice websites, and offer baby clubs targeting pregnant women and mothers. Through these channels, the companies offer free products, gifts and other product incentive schemes.