Nestlé promotes SMA formula brand on Father's Day


On Father’s Day this year (16th June 2013), Nestlé launched an email campaign directed at 'new Dads, Grandads and Dads-to-be everywhere' (shown left, click for pdf version).
 
Playing on the worries of those who care for newborn babies, the message says:  'Being a new Dad can be rewarding and confusing all at the same time.  We all worry about getting it right first time but don’t worry – you’re doing great.'
 
The 'You're doing great' slogan is being used in a national television advertising campaign for SMA formula.
 
The email message then goes on to suggest sources of information about looking after a baby, specifically Nestlé's formula-branded telephone service, the SMA Careline Team, who 'will be happy to talk to you'.
 
SMA is the brand name for a range of infant milks and follow-on formulas, which, until recently, was owned by the company Pfizer Nutrition/Wyeth. In December 2012 Nestle completed the takeover of Pfizer Nutrition/Wyeth.
 
The SMA logo appears twice in the email, and is clearly the same logo which is seen on all the SMA infant milk products. 
 
Therefore, an email from Nestle, sent to the general public and showing clear images of the SMA brand logo, and citing the SMA brand name contravene the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula (England) Regulations 2007 (Full text in the Law section).
 
Paragraph 21 of the Regulations, regarding the restrictions on advertising infant formula, states that infant formula can only be advertised in a scientific publication or for the purposes of trade prior to the retail stage, not to the general public.
 
Section 48 of the Guidance Notes, which were issued to assist with the interpretation of the Regulations, state that in order to achieve compliance with this part of the Regulations, companies will therefore need to ensure that formula advertising does not: 
 
  • promote a range of formula products by making the brand the focus of the advert, rather than specific products (e.g. where specific products are mentioned only in a footnote or in a picture of a tin of  formula within the advertisement) 
  • feature text or images which relate to pregnancy (e.g. pregnancy test kits) or the feeding or care of infants under six months 
  • focus on carers emotions in relation to the feeding or care of infants under six months.
 
The email sent by Nestlé is, by the very inclusion of the logo and brand name ('SMA'), is promoting the formula range. As the accompanying text is pertaining to the care of infants under 6 months (the email is addressed to 'new dads'), it is particularly promoting the infant formula for use from birth. It is against the law to advertise infant formula.
 
Further, it most certainly focuses on the emotions of those caring for infants under the age of 6 months, acknowledging that 'being a new Dad can be rewarding and confusing all at the same time.  We all worry about getting it right first time but don’t worry – you’re doing great'.
 
Recently (November 2012) the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint by Baby Milk Action about an SMA email campaign. The ASA stated:
 
‘We told [the company] not to produce marketing communications for infant formula except in a scientific publication or, for the purposes of trade before the retail stage, a publication of which the intended readers were no the general public.’
 
The SMA logo itself represents a woman breasfeeding her child and the tins (including on the infant formua, for use from birth) there is a photo of a model-looking mother beaming elatedly, as shown on the packshot on Nestlé's SMA formula website - to which the email links:
 
 
This violates Regulations 17(3) of the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations (2007), as the explanation in the Guidance Notes to the Regulations makes very clear:
 
Labelling of infant formula to avoid idealising the product 
 
30. Regulation 17(3) provides that the labelling of infant formula shall not 
include- 
 
a) any picture of an infant; or 
b) any other picture or text which may idealise the use of the product, but may include graphic representations for easy identification of the product or for illustrating methods of preparation. 
 
31. The following are examples of representations which may be considered to ‘idealise’ the use of infant formula should they feature on infant 
formula labelling: 
  • Pictures of infants, young children or carers (e.g. mothers or fathers). 

  • Graphics that represent nursing mothers and pregnant women. 

  • Pictures or text which implies that infant health, happiness or well being, or the health, happiness and wellbeing of carers, is associated with infant formula. 

  • References to infant’s or carer’s emotions.

The website also includes misleading claims about the formula products. Click here for details.
 
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