Evenflo’s Youtube videos advertising their line of breastpumps and bottles recently generated a heated backlash from mothers and breastfeeding advocates. In a matter of hours the videos went from obscurity to infamy, with thousands of user views and hundreds of comments – mostly incensed – leading to Evenflo making the most offensive video private and password-protected.
Such a massive and heated response has led to mainstream news media picking up the story and running articles detailing the backlash. The Globe and Mail’s Amber MacArthur posted her take on the net response on September 6, including a brief synopsis, noting that Montreal-based blogger Momzelle had weighed in on the video already.
But the initial push that got the ball rolling appears to have come from a local blog, PhD in Parenting. Annie, who maintains the blog, is located in the National Capital Region. Her post, When a Company Goes From Good to Very, Very Bad: The Evenflo Story describes Evenflo’s deterioration from a company maintaining the WHO International Code for the Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes (generally referred to as the Code) to yet another one marketing bottles and pumps in a manner directly violating the Code. As of the night of September 7, PhD in Parenting’s post had received 20,000 page views and had 172 comments. Of those comments, only a small handful did not express utter outrage at the video posted by Evenflo.
The comments on the Globe and Mail post, however, were very different. The first comment, left by AUNTIE763, set the tone: “Get over yourselves … nursing mothers aren’t sacred … why can’t they be poked fun at in a playful way without the self-righteous among us getting up on their high horses yet again?Lighten up.” It seems that outside the breastfeeding and so-called mommyblogging sphere the outrage is not shared nor is it understood.
The message sent by an ad of this sort subverts the efforts of nursing mothers and those who would encourage them. Ultimately, how we present breastpumps sends a direct message about the nature of breastfeeding. Is Evenflo marketing breastpumps as a means of supporting a mother’s breastfeeding relationship while demonstrating that nursing one’s child is always preferable to feeding with a bottle? No. They are marketing pumps in such a way that normalizes bottle feeding, setting it as the standard. Their series of videos – because there are others, as well – demonstrate parenting behaviours that depict using expressed milk and a bottle to feed one’s child as a more convenient, less embarrassing, easier and more modern-compliant way of feeding than nursing at the breast. Bottles are depicted as the way to make everyone happy. This is not the message that a company which claims to “live breastfeeding every day” would send. This is the message sent by a company which has put slick advertising and cash ahead of what is actually best for mothers and babies.