There was just an ad (FYI, yes, this is an ad for formula feeding!) put out by Similac, one of the world’s leaders of formula production. I will not link to it out of protest, but, you have probably seen it anyway. My intern Barb showed it to me the other day and said although everyone was loving it (I believe it went viral), but she was uneasy because at the end of the ad it clearly states that it was sponsored by Similac. This is super clever because the commercial does not have the look or feel of an ad. It looks more like a public service message. The “big idea” is that parents have more in common with each other than not.
Now, I love this idea and think it is true. Parents have more similarities than differences. BUT because Similac spent LOTS of money on this and we know they want you to formula feed, there has to be a message in the ad that somehow promotes formula feeding and discourages breastfeeding.
And you know what is super clever on Similac’s part? People who would never, ever promote formula, midwives, IBCLCs, doulas, are sharing this formula ad because they are buying into the idea of Similac’s new ad campaign slogan, “Sisterhood of Motherhood”.
Please, don’t be naive! I am not being a formula hater here. It is simple economics. Formula companies are a 4 billion dollar industry in the US. Big money. When we wonder what happened to breastfeeding, we all used to do it, there is really one answer. Economics. Just follow the money. In a recent Ted Talk, Todd Wolynn says, “Economics dismantled breastfeeding.” I agree. Businesses saw there was an opportunity and they jumped in with both feet. Food for thought as well, most formula companies are owned by pharmaceutical companies. Guess which babies, formula feed or breastfeed, will require more medications for cancer, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, and many other health issues in the future? Make money now, make more money later? I’m just saying…
So what is Similac really saying about breastfeeding if we analysis this commercial? There have been some great blog responses that help clear this up. Little Us goes through the ad and points out how negative breastfeeding stereotypes are emphasized. Breastfeeding moms are covered up and look angry. The Analytical Armadillo proposes that Similac is trying to silence the voices promoting breastfeeding. If we “make” someone feel “bad” about their infant feeding choices, we are basically being a b**ch and a mean girl. Who wants to be a mean girl or a b**ch? Not me! Is this going to make me more hesitant about promoting and supporting breastfeeding? Is Similac trying to shut my voice down?
Sadly, in a recent survey, 40% of physicians felt breastfeeding and formula feeding are equally healthy. Yikes! However, remember, that in the past, many doctors promoting smoking as being healthy. Research proved this to be untrue. Some doctors knew this before others YET did not champion health. Why? Not sure, but, where there is money involved… Now it would be considered scandalous for a doctor to promote smoking.
Let’s be clear. Formula is not “the best choice” for babies. It allows them to survive. Human milk is for human babies. When did we decide another mammal species, the cow, would provide better “breastmilk” for our babies? I am sure some of you are thinking, “Breastfeeding Nazi!” “Lactavist!” “Boob police!” Do you know what I would have been called 150 years ago? Your sister, mother, grandmother, cousin, or friend. I was helping you breastfeed to ensure your baby’s survival.
A health care provider’s foundation is suppose to be, “First do no harm.” Can we really say this about formula feeding? I don’t think so.That is why I will still continue to promote and support breastfeeding and help expose any businesses’ ulterior motives.
Similac doesn’t care about you or your baby. Just your money.
Don’t let Similac fool you into polite silence.
We do not need to fight with each. This just distracts us from fighting the real problem. Businesses that want to take our money even it if jeopardizes our health.
Note: This blog is directed at companies who profit off of our ignorance. This blog is not directed at the mothers who formula feed. Lot’s of mothers can’t breastfeed for a huge variety of issues. Many mothers choose to formula for many personal reasons. Formula is also a tool we use when breastmilk is not available. When I feel all of our mothers are given accurate medical information about formula feeding, truly understand it’s risks, have all the breastfeeding support available that they could possibly want, have maternity leave that is fair and appropriate, and formula companies are not allowed to advertise to parents, I will rest. I will feel families can make a balanced choice. Until then, I will remain a breastfeeding advocate with a loud voice.