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Baby Milk Action

Email update : 19 September 2012

SMA formula NOT "the best milk after Kate's" - Advertising Standards Authority upholds complaints

In a national billboard, print and online advertising campaign in the UK in March 2012, Wyeth promoted its SMA formula in a series of advertisements showing mothers with young children under headlines: "What's the best milk after Kate's?", "What's the best milk after Lisa's?" etc.

SMA ad

Following complaints by Baby Milk Action and other groups and individuals, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled the answer is NOT SMA formula.

Wyeth is part of Pfizer (but is in the process of being purchased by Nestlé). In a ruling published today the ASA warns Pfizer not to repeat the advertisements after finding:

  • "the ads misleadingly implied that follow-on milk was the best alternative to breast milk" and
  • "the ads misleading implied that SMA Follow-on milk was superior to other follow-on milks".

The ruling vindicates Baby Milk Action's successful "Stop Wyeth" campaign against Wyeth's SMA Baby Know How roadshow. Wyeth would have promoted SMA formula in shopping centres in June and July 2012 had the roadshow gone ahead.

Wyeth continues to promote its formula to health workers with the claim "Drop for drop, no other formula comes close" safe in the knowledge that the ASA refuses to investigate advertising in health journals. Baby Milk Action is campaigning to stop this.

Mike Brady, Campaigns and Networking Coordinator at Baby Milk Action, said:

"The ASA ruling shows that SMA formula is NOT the best milk after Kate's. This ruling comes after the damage has already been done and without fines won't deter future malpractice, but it does prove the point that Pfizer/Wyeth's national advertising campaign misled parents. The company's aim is to inflate prices. Parents who buy formula already pay a premium to cover these expensive marketing campaigns. All formulas have to comply with legal composition requirements.

"These misleading promotions should not be allowed to even get off the ground. We are receiving widespread support for our 'no promotion, cheaper formula' petition campaign."

Based on figures from dairy farmers, Baby Milk Action has calculated that between 50% and 80% of the selling price of formula goes to promotional budgets and company profits.

This means a family feeding a child with formula for 12 months will pay between £300 and £800 towards company promotion and profits, depending on whether they use powdered formula or more expensive ready-to-feed formula.

Full details and images at:

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