Do I think the manufacturer of Similac is genuine about wanting us all to get along and stop criticizing one another? Absolutely not!
Here's the explanation behind my opinion. Beginning in 2002, both Ross Pediatrics, the manufacturer of Similac, and Mead Johnson, the manufacturer of Enfamil, changed the size of their powdered formula containers. The WIC Program provides low income women with formula. The majority of the formula they provide is powdered formula. Federal regulations at the time were very inflexible as far as the maximum amount of formula WIC could provide to individual women. The limit was 128 dry ounces. Both Similac and Enfamil came in 16 ounce cans. Thus each woman could receive 8 cans of powdered formula per month. The new can sizes created the situation where 9 cans of Enfamil equaled 128.7 dry ounces, and 10 cans of Similac equaled 129 dry ounces... both slightly over the maximum amount allowed. Therefore, the WIC Program could not give as many dry ounces of formula to infants. Less formula provided by WIC would mean higher retail sales of formula... and higher profits for the formula companies. Also, even though the new cans were smaller, the retail price remained the same as the larger 16 ounce cans. In case you think this a minor issue, the manipulation of the size of the formula containers caused millions of infants from low income families each year to receive less formula from the WIC Program. And, yes, the formula companies knew exactly what they were doing.
Fast forward to 2015. Free formula is still being given away in "gift bags" to new mothers after giving birth in hospitals. The hospital executives have decided to accept financial incentives from the formula companies in exchange for allowing hospital personnel to distribute the formula gift bags to new mothers in their care. This marketing strategy gives new mothers the impression that formula must be equivalent to breast milk. After all, why else would a member of the hospital staff give them free formula? This practice has been shown to cause some mothers to discontinue breastfeeding and switch to formula feeding.
Should we condemn parents for formula feeding? Of course not! However, many formula fed infants would be breast fed infants if their mother had received unbiased information about the benefits of breastfeeding when she was in the hospital. Unfortunately, it has become common practice for hospitals to put profits ahead of providing quality health care to new mothers and their infants.
The objective of the television ad that is the subject of this thread, is an attempt to put an end to the criticism of the unscrupulous marketing tactics of the formula companies. As you can see from the two examples above, I believe the formula companies deserve to be criticized. Their lobbying efforts in Washington DC are relentless. They continue to try and cut funding for the WIC Program breastfeeding peer counselors who have had success at encouraging low income women to breastfeed. The formula companies have been responsible for eliminating the WIC television ad campaign which was successful at convincing low income women to give breastfeeding a try.
I have to give the formula companies credit. They obviously have the best marketing talent that money can buy. But achieving the best possible health outcome for infants should not be left to slick marketing and back room dealing. That hasn't worked in the past, and it isn't working now. Please complain to your local hospital if they continue to actively participate in the marketing of formula. There is no justification for giving second rate medical care to newborn babies. Also, please keep in mind that your Federal representatives work for you. Let them know that you care about the WIC breastfeeding peer counselor program and tell them you expect the funding for that program to be increased, not decreased. For many low income women, the WIC Program is the most significant source of breastfeeding support available to them. That is what has made that program a target of the formula companies' lobbying efforts.
Please don't talk down to the parents who formula feed. Speak up about the benefits of breastfeeding.
Last edited by devoted2kids; 04-07-2015 at 08:17 AM.
Reason: Additional information.