Boom Show at the Nepean Sports Complex in Ottawa is causing a controversy
among local attenders and exhibitors because of its willingness to violate
the International Code and allow Similac as a sponsor. A local
baby-friendly organization has sent out a press release (attached)
expressing its displeasure. Hopefully all the negative attention will
prompt the directors of the show to change their policies and forgo such
sponsorships in the future. If you haven’t already done so, please contact
the directors at the following addresses:
The Baby Boom Show at the Nepean Sports Complex in Ottawa is causing a controversy among local attenders and exhibitors because of its willingness to violate the International Code and allow Similac as a sponsor. A local baby-friendly organization has sent out a press release (attached) expressing its displeasure. Hopefully all the negative attention will prompt the directors of the show to change their policies and forgo such sponsorships in the future. If you haven’t already done so, please contact the directors at the following addresses:
Jacqueline Gorra, Sponsorship Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kelly Bizeau, Sponsorship Inquiries: email@example.com
July 27, 2005.
ACTION ALERT - BABY FRIENDLY BOOM, PLEASE!
Ottawa's breastfeeding community needs your help! In a serious violation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, an upcoming baby show has accepted Similac as its major sponsor. The company will display a large Similac banner and will likely be handing out promotional items. Below is a letter written by Jennifer Gordon to alert INFACT Canada to the situation, and our own letter to the Baby Boom Show. Feel free to alter INFACT's letter and send it to the following addresses:
Jody Taylor, Baby Boom Producer: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacqueline Gorra, Sponsorship Coordinator: email@example.com
Kelly Blzeau, Sponsorship Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Let them know that violations of the International Code endanger children and will not be tolerated!
July 24, 2005
Baby Boom Producer
PO Box 1457
Dear Jody Taylor;
I am writing to you in your leadership role with the Baby Boom show of Ottawa. I am a
mother of two young children, ages one and three. I currently live in North Bay. My
extended family is in Ottawa and in the fall of 2002 I attended the Baby Boom show at
As a new mother I found the show to be fun, informative and full of resources. I am both
disappointed and alarmed to learn that the Baby Boom show has received sponsorship
from Similac. I personally experienced a great deal of difficulty initiating breastfeeding
with my first child & I recognize the undeniable importance of positive support and
information as a new lactating mother. For me some of this support came with a
connection I made with the La Leche League leaders presenting at your show in 2002.
By accepting a sponsorship from Similac it is without doubt that The Baby Boom show
will NOT be a baby friendly environment. Sponsorships of any size, indirect or direct,
are for one purpose. That is to improve the corporate bottom line. The Baby Boom
website points out to potential sponsors that “Brand Exposure: Shapes consumer attitudes
and connects directly with a target audience for (the) product.” In addition the website
points to the educational value of your show on “topics such as nutrition, health and
safety..” The impact of sponsorships on events that are seen as educational by the public
is profound. It travels far beyond obvious concern of perceived endorsement of a
particular brand name product. It is the health of our babies and of future generations
that we are discussing.
Infant formula is not the best choice for our babies. There is unequivocal information
available to show that for reasons of nutrition, health and safety breastmilk is the far
superior option for babies and children. I do acknowledge that women have the right to
make decisions on how they feed their infants and children. It is for THIS reason that
this sponsorship is so very offensive to me. I am aware that Similac’s participation in
your show has eliminated the participation of La Leche League and other breastfeeding
friendly organizations and businesses. It is the offensive nature of this type of situation
that brought about the World Health Organizations International Code of Marketing of
Breastmilk Substititutes, established in 1981. The WHO Code is a tool for protecting
breastfeeding in all countries. This information is not new. As a progressive parenting
organization I am sure that you are aware if it’s presence on the world stage.
Two of the most influential strategies to positively effect breastfeeding rates for our next
1. to adhere to the WHO Code and to increase public awareness,
2. to educate and to inform about the benefits of breastfeeding.
Not only does your sponsorship agreement with Similac violate the WHO Code it also
has eliminated the option for the public to receive unbiased information about the
benefits of breastfeeding. Without the participation of LLL and other breastfeeding
friendly businesses The Baby Boom show will NOT be a baby friendly environment, nor
will it be a good value for Ottawa parents.
I urge you to refuse Similac’s sponsorship of your event, to return The Baby Boom show
to a baby friendly space and to prevent Similac from having the first right of refusal at
future Baby Boom shows. This move could be a tipping point for your event. In many
industries controversial press creates a beneficial buzz. As a mother and consumer in
your target group I see nothing beneficial to the buzz that will be created over your
controversial decision. I believe that for many an awareness of this issue will turn them
away from your event.
Please make the right decision for your business, for babies and for mothers. Refuse
Similac’s sponsorship on the grounds that it is not in the best interest of your event and
provide a positive and valuable experience for Ottawa families.
Mother of two lovely babies
CC Jacqueline Gorra Sponsorship Coordinator
Kelly Bizeau Sponsorship Inquiries
Elizabeth Sterken National Director INFACT Canada
July 26th, 2005
P.O. Box 1457
Dear Mrs. Taylor:
It has come to the attention of INFACT Canada that the Baby Boom Show planned for the Nepean Sportsplex on September 10th and 11th, 2005, is allowing formula companies to have booths and sponsorship at the show. We would like to make you aware of the following articles of the World Health Organization’s International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes which prohibit this kind of direct promotion of infant formula, bottles and teats to the public. Specifically,
“There should be no advertising or other form of promotion to the general public of products within the scope of this Code.” (5.1)
“Manufacturers and distributors should not provide, directly or indirectly, to pregnant women, mothers or members of their families, samples within the scope of this Code. (5.2)
“Marketing personnel, in their business capacity, should not seek direct or indirect contact of any kind with pregnant women or with mothers of infants and young children.” (5.5)
Should you allow formula companies to exhibit, sponsor or hand out promotional material and samples your company will be in direct violation of the International Code, a document that was designed to protect a mother’s right to informed and unbiased feeding choices, and a baby’s right to the highest attainable health. There are numerous risks associated with the use of infant formula which include reduced cognitive development and increased risk of:
· asthma and allergy,
· acute respiratory disease,
· infection through contaminated formula,
· childhood cancers,
· chronic disease,
· cardiovascular disease,
· gastrointestinal infections,
· otitis media and ear infections,
· side effects of environmental contaminants.
Given the health impacts of formula feeding, it is imperative that the articles of the International Code be upheld; doing otherwise is irresponsible and endangers the health of our children.
We respectfully request that you do your part in safeguarding the wellbeing of Ottawa’s mothers and children by adhering to the tenets of the International Code and severing your ties with formula companies that seek to contravene it.
We look forward to your response on this matter.
cc. INFACT Canada area members
RESPONSE TO LETTER
Dear Elisabeth, Thank you for bringing your concerns to the attention of Baby Boom Show Management.
Similac is the Baby Boom entertainment sponsor for Dora the Explorer.
The Baby Boom Show is an educational, nonsectarian, nondiscriminatory consumer show offering an open floor where all participating exhibitors and sponsors have equal rights and opportunitues to reach new and expectant parents in the Ottawa region. The purpose of the Baby Boom Show is to provide new and expectant parents with products, services and resource information so that families can make more informed parenting choices.
LLL, and other breastfeeding supporters and educators are welcome at any time to join the Baby Boom exhibitor network to educate and promote a better understanding of breastfeeding to our show audience of which 58% are expectant mothers.