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Ad Industry Self regulation exposed as a sham

Women’s Health Action Trust

Media advisory 26 July 2006

Industry Self regulation exposed as a sham


Women’s Health Action Trust presents to the Health Select Committee obesity and Type 2 diabetes enquiry in Auckland today and will use the opportunity to demonstrate the inadequacy and hypocrisy of industry self regulation in ensuring compliance with the Code of Marketing of Breastmilk substitutes.

Women’s Health Action is one of the many organisations that believes that the first step in fighting the obesity/diabetes epidemic is the promotion, protection and support of breastfeeding.

Central to this is the Code and code compliance which has been compromised by industry in New Zealand. Firstly the industry body (NZIFMA - NZ Infant Formula Marketers Association) rewrote the International Code to create a watered down version for themselves. Recent evidence shows that even with a watered down version of the Code, they change their tune depending on the audience.

An advertisement in the May edition of the Australian Women’s Weekly breached the Code. WHA raised this through the official Ministry of Health channels and the response from the company included the following phrases:

‘We acknowledge the concerns raised.. and accept that the copy content should have focussed solely on………’

The company ‘ immediately withdrew the advertisement from all media schedules when concerns were raised…’

The company finishes by attributing the failure to properly pre-vet the ad to a key worker on ‘maternity leave.’

The company response to a consumer who complained directly to them was completely different in both tone and substance. This time the company roundly defended the advertisement and finished with.

‘Please indicate which part of the advertorial you feel is deceptive and [the company] will respond accordingly.’

‘Industry self-regulation does not work and won’t ever work’ says WHA Breastfeeding advocate Louise James. ‘The industry is always pushing the limits, and as we have seen here, will change it’s tune to suit the audience. This example is typical and difficult to explain away as a misunderstanding as both sets of communications are signed by the same person.’

‘We need to get it right at the start by enacting imaginative legislation to protect the right to breastfeed’ says Louise.

ENDS

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