Danone Cow & Gate Facebook advertisement and website

Danone violation reported 8 October 2010 - site last visited on 16 August 2011

This advertisement appeared on pages of Facebook (presumably targeted to parenting issues), offering parents free gifts to join the Cow & Gate baby club. 

The promotion is specifically aimed at women when pregnant, in violation of Article 5.5 of the International Code.

The landing page when clicking on the advertisement offers the following inducements for joining Danone's 'Mum and Baby Club' branded with the name of one of its infant formulas: Cow & Gate. It is illegal to promote infant formula under the Infant Formula and Follow-on Formula Regulations.

The landing page cites: "Lots of great reasons to join!

FREE cuddly cow*

FREE pregnancy diary** - guiding you through from bump to birth

Mailings and emails packed with tips and advice

FREE money-off vouchers

Your own personal homepage on our website

Share your experiences in our forums

Get in touch with other mums and mums-to-be through Friend Finder"

The site encourages mothers to call the Cow and Gate 'careline' even without signing up.

The site is not only branded with the infant formula name and logo, it is specifically targeting mothers to send them information about infant formula.

In a section of the sign-up form headed 'You can have it all', it states:

"Before we can tell you about our infant milks and all your feeding options, we legally need your permission. So if you'd like information to help you make decisions about feeding your baby, please let us know by ticking the box."

This is misleading as Danone's promotional information is not objective, but makes claims that do not stand up to scrutiny.

It is also misleading to suggest that Danone is allowed to sidestep the law by including this tick box. The whole promotion is designed to promote infant formula and so is covered by the prohibition on advertising.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is being asked to intervene to have the Facebook advertisements and website removed (complaint: A11-169018).