Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/31446
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Selling second best: how infant formula marketing works
Author(s): Hastings, Gerard
Angus, Kathryn
Eadie, Douglas
Hunt, Kate
Keywords: Commercial determinants of ill-health
Infant formula
Breast milk substitutes
Marketing
Multinational corporations
Corporate power
Citation: Hastings G, Angus K, Eadie D & Hunt K (2020) Selling second best: how infant formula marketing works. Globalization and Health. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12992-020-00597-w
Abstract: Background: Despite the clear policy intent to contain it, the marketing of formula milk remains widespread, powerful and successful. This paper examines how it works. Methods: The study comprised a mix of secondary analysis of business databases and qualitative interviews with marketing practitioners, some of whom had previously worked in formula marketing. Results: The World Health Assembly Code aims to shield parents from unfair commercial pressures by stopping the inappropriate promotion of infant formula. In reality marketing remains widespread because some countries (e.g. the USA) have not adopted the Code, and elsewhere industry has developed follow-on and specialist milks with which they promote formula by proxy. The World Health Assembly has tried to close these loopholes by extending its Code to these products; but the marketing continues. The campaigns use emotional appeals to reach out to and build relationships with parents and especially mothers. Evocative brands give these approaches a human face. The advent of social media has made it easier to pose as the friend and supporter of parents; it is also providing companies with a rich stream of personal data with which they hone and target their campaigns. The formula industry is dominated by a small number of extremely powerful multinational corporations with the resources to buy the best global marketing expertise. Like all corporations they are governed by the fiduciary imperative which puts the pursuit of profits ahead of all other concerns. This mix of fiscal power, sophisticated marketing, and single-mindedness is causing great harm to public health. Conclusions: Formula marketing is widespread and using powerful emotional techniques to sell parents a product that is vastly inferior to breast milk. There is an urgent need to update and strengthen regulation.
DOI Link: 10.1186/s12992-020-00597-w
Rights: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Notes: Output Status: Forthcoming
Licence URL(s): http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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