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Lauredhel is an Australian woman and mother with a disability. She blogs about disability and accessibility, social and reproductive justice, gender, freedom from violence, the uses and misuses of language, medical science, otters, gardening, and cooking.

This author has written 1618 posts for Hoyden About Town. Read more about Lauredhel »

22 responses to ““Medela Mom Mavens”: The Social Media Spam Offensive”

  1. tigtog

    Nestlé found out exactly how well received social media spam is during the #nestlefamily affair, which rejuvenated the boycott. PhDinParenting has a terrific series on that event – start here for more information. Let’s see how well received Medela’s amateur PR people will be.

    This. People really do not like being sideswiped by marketing.

  2. Annie @ PhD in Parenting

    How frustrating. How annoying. Thank you for writing about this and bringing it to light.

    This type of spamming is also not allowed on the kellymom message boards. I’ll be giving them a heads up about potential spammers.

  3. Carol@kellymom

    Thank you for article lauredhel and the heads up Annie! It is pretty sad for me personally that I am being forced by a company (whose product I had a really good experience with) to review how their is “discussed” in a community I administrate. Now ALL recommendations of Medela products will be viewed with suspicion by our moderators and that is really a shame for our community members. The good thing is that there are many other options out there and we will have no trouble finding other brands to recommend.

  4. lauredhel

    It’s a right pain, isn’t it Carol? And experience has shown that no amount of strictures saying that people should declare their interests actually leads to effective declarations – not to mention the fact that an endorsement _with_ a declaration is still a naked advertisement, not permitted on most message boards.

    For what it’s worth, Ameda is largely or completely Code compliant, and produces products of similar quality, according to high quality reviews by experienced people. I have no connection with Ameda at all, and have never so much as used their products.

  5. Sam

    La Leche League Leaders are told to not use LLLL as initials/credentials after the name, as we’re not “qualified” to speak for the organization. LLLLs have gone through selection, education and training, believe and commit to a set of principles, yet we are not permitted to identify ourselves with the organization.

    You can imagine the Medela Mom Mavens will be oh so proud to use MMM after their names, as “credentials.” It won’t mean anything to anyone who knows anything about lactation, but it will appear to be worthwhile to the outside world.

  6. Sam

    That’s terrible!

    It is obvious actually, that they are not bothered about breastfeeding rates, otherwise they would vet the ‘applicants’ thoroughly.

    I have done a 12 week training course compiled by the LLL to become a breastfeeding peer counsellor. Over my time on ivillage message boards I have seen some extremely dodgy (and occasionally, down right wrong) advice from other breastfeeding mums, usually those who have breastfed for just a few weeks and are going on their opinion or experience, or something they were told (wrongly!). The fact that they are giving these women the ‘green light’ to not only spam and promote Medela, but also potentially give out misinformation, with a title which implies knowledge, and a position of authority on the subject, is horrific.

  7. Kate

    Terrible. I would have previously recommended Medela products because I did use them with my first baby, two years ago. But now I don’t think I can. Too bad, because they used to be the gold standard in pumps. But I can’t recommend a company with such terrible ethics. Very sad.

  8. Kate

    I’d like to link to this in my blog soon…just to let you know. I am a big breastfeeding advocate. Thanks.
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..Natural Dishwasher Detergent =-.

  9. Sarah

    How totally sad. Like another person before said I have had good experience with the product and will be totally leery of sharing my “stories” for fear of being one of those mentioned spammers (which I am NOT). Amazing what the www has done to even the basic of communication between moms. Sad.

  10. Jake Aryeh Marcus

    Am I missing what the “Maven” gets? With Nestle Family, the bloggers got a trip and steak and stuff they delighted in touting. Is Medela giving “Mavens” sample products? Is this really as sad as a woman thinking the designation has value?
    .-= Jake Aryeh Marcus´s last blog ..“Tits in the Parliament”: Are Fines for Breastfeeding Harassment Always a Good Thing? =-.

  11. zchamu

    All right, I’ll wade in.

    I truly don’t see what’s wrong with this.

    Why is it a bad thing for a company that has people who swear by their product, to contact those people and say hey, if you use our product, talk to people about it? Every company does it (or should). Encouraging people to talk about their experiences with a product via word of mouth is a *good* thing.

    Also, I must call you out on one point you make. Where you say that “Medela Mom Mavens are being asked to promote Medela bottles and teats, as Medela notes this specifically in their talking points for Mavens” – nowhere in the snip you’ve pasted are teats mentioned. They refer to “all Medela bottles, breastshields and kit components”. The bottle is part of the pumping process. It collects the milk. If you need to pump your milk, you need to use a bottle. The breastshields and kit components are also part of the milk collection process. So, it’s really a stretch to say they’re promoting the “bottles and teats” when they refer to the “kit components”.

    However, if you truly want to go there – yes, if you pump, you have to give the baby milk in a bottle. Is the bottle truly the enemy here, when it’s the only way the baby’s going to get breastmilk? (Besides, when it comes right down to it, medela bottles and nipples suck. I use other bottles and nipples as they work far better. )

    I dunno, I think there are far bigger fish to fry than to go after Medela for daring to sell a bottle as part of a breast pump, or to think that people who use and appreciate their products and are encouraged to talk about them are “spammers”. Frankly I find that quite insulting. My pump saved my ass and kept my kid getting breastmilk, and I’ll gladly tell that to anyone who wants to know.

  12. lauredhel

    zchamu: The WHO Code does not restrict the sale or use of feeding bottles in any way. I suggest you read the links provided.

  13. Mindy

    I disagree that a bottle is the only way to feed a baby expressed breastmilk. They will suck through straws, or are able to learn to sip from a cup at a very young age.

  14. zchamu

    @lauredhel – I have read the links. I still think there are far bigger fish to fry, which is my point. The entire phrasing of this post is disingenuous: classifying Medela as a bottle company first, THEN a breast pump company. They sell bottles as secondary to the pump, not the other way around. I can guarantee you that if it wasn’t for Medela and their pump and their bottles, my daughter would have been formula fed and I’d probably be in the loony bin. By demonizing Medela, you’re alienating the very people who are on your side – breastfeeding mothers.

    @mindy – I’m laughing at the thought of trying to feed my 3 day old exclusively through a straw or a cup. And if the babe will feed that way, surely these evil components should be banned through the WHO code too? ;)

  15. Mindy

    Straws and cups don’t mess with the sucking reflex like rubber or plastic teats do. That’s why the WHO code recommends using them.

    Ah, three day old babies, that takes me back. Fond memories, but no intention of actually going back.

  16. Linda

    The WHO Code has nothing to do with the quality or availability of breast pumps, or the quality or availability of bottles, artificial nipples, or manufactured foods for babies. It has everything to do with how they are marketed to mothers. Medela actively markets their bottles and nipples in an unethical way directly to the public. It’s the marketing of the products that’s the problem, not the products themselves. TheWHO Code prohibits direct marketing of anything that substitutes for direct breastfeeding. That means no advertising in baby magazines and TV, no pictures of babies with the products, no claims that they are “most like breastfeeding”, no spamming by “mothercraft nurses” in hospitals or chat lists. These Mavens are the equivalent of formula reps, but worse, because they’re contacting the mothers directly instead of peddling their wares through health care workers, hospitals, and doctors’ offices. They actively promote breastmilk as a product to be extracted with their pumps and fed with their bottles, not breastfeeding as a process. You can purchase all of their products you want to use, but they can’t tell you that your life will be better because you use them. Nobody denies that working moms and those with anatomical challenges have a use for their products. It’s quite another thing to convince every mother that she needs to buy a pump if she’s breastfeeding. It’s just like the breastfeeding literature from the formula companies that makes you think that it’s impossible to exclusively breastfeed. What if you have to work or want to go out without your baby? Certainly you’ll need to give formula then so you’ll want to give the one closest to your breastmilk, right? And if you need to pump, you’ll certainly want the pump that most closely mimicks breastfeeding and have someone feed your precious breastmilk with a bottle and nipple that most closely matches your breast, right? That’s marketing and it works. That’s why Medela has thumbed their nose at the WHO Code and the lactation community’s near boycott–profit.

  17. Information, advertising, spam: Medela crosses the line | PhD in Parenting

    [...] marketing via this program that I object to. I think the entire premise is flawed. In response to Hoyden About Town’s post on the Medela Mom Mavens, Shannon (@zchamu) wrote: Why is it a bad thing for a company that has people who swear by their [...]

  18. Carol@kellymom

    @lauredhel – Lurking LactNet has given me confidence that the Hygeia breastpump is another good choice without the WHO code issues so I feel pretty good recommending them as well.

    ***
    As a community moderator/administrator I view what Medela is trying to do as stealth advertising. They are attempting to get around my community’s advertising restrictions by hiding behind breastfeeding moms. Our members CANNOT disclose their affiliation as Medela suggests they do and remain members of our community. We’ll pull their posts as advertising and their accounts will be suspended. So instead, the smart members who know that disclosing will get them in major trouble are going to post without disclosing which makes ALL conversation about Medela products suspect. That is a serious shame.

    For me personally these are serious (aka big) issues.

    Stealth advertising/Social marketing is a pretty sticky ethical thicket and pretty darned important. It’s so important that the FTC in the US has addressed the EXACT behavior Medela is encouraging of their MMMs on the part of bloggers. So far the FTC hasn’t addressed this within internet communities but I have a feeling that if we wait long enough the FTC will address programs like Medela’s.

    At the risk of repeating Linda, Medela’s MMMs violate the WHO Code, articles 5.1 (There should be no advertising or other form of promotion to the general public of products within the scope of this Code) and 5.5, (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.). The Code does not address the manufacture or sale of these products. It addresses the MARKETING of the products.

    While there may be other fish to fry this particular fish *IS* a big deal for some of us within the breastfeeding support community. It impacts me and a community that I moderate directly and so I’ll be using my frying pan on Medela and their Mom Mavens.
    ***

    @zchamu – 3-day old babies who are not breastfeeding but are receiving expressed breastmilk are often syringe fed, finger fed, fed with an SNS, etc. There are a multitude of methods of feeding expressed breastmilk and some are more appropriate to newborns than others. The bottle is one of many options.

    ***
    With this particular topic I see a lot of people (I’m reading about this in a lot of different places) making the mistaken assumption that it’s either breastfeeding at the breast or giving expressed breastmilk with a bottle. Then when other (sometimes better) methods are shared then the false dichotomy shifts to “If you don’t embrace bottle feeding you think it’s evil”, “you hate working mothers”, “you are advocating some unattainable form of breastfeeding and anyone who diverges from it is a failure” or some other equally untrue meme.

    The ironic thing for me is that I had a really good experience with a PIS back when my oldest was nursing and I’ll never again recommend this company because their marketing choices are, in my opinion, extremely sleazy (even if EVERYONE else is doin’ it too).

  19. stephanieRN

    I agree with zchamu. Many mothers and mothers-to-be do not have the luxury to breast feed exclusively without a pump and components. Without advertising, many women (especially in the U.S.) would not be exposed to the idea that feeding breast milk to their baby is a viable, and convenient option. Many of us only get 6 weeks unpaid vacation after the birth, and then have to return promptly to work. Without breast pumping systems like these, breast milk would NOT be an option. Many women in the U.S. do not breast feed due to the pro-formula culture here (breastfeeding is looked down on), in addition to the shear lack of knowledge of products like these. Not to offend anyone, but many of the responses on this site (and others that I have read), come from a very naive, elitist point of view. Try to put yourself in others’ shoes. Not everyone is educated about breast feeding, nor able to have their baby with them at all times during the day. Some of us have to work! And many of us aren’t aware that breast milk is the healthiest form of food to feed your growing baby. Others have been brainwashed that feeding your baby formula is more natural than breastfeeding. And still others are not even aware that these systems are available to make the process convenient, especially when we have to go back to work. Or the issue is a combination of all of the above. Either way, I think it’s a good thing that Medela is advertising. Hopefully more mothers will begin to feed their baby breast milk. Better Medela than Nestle (Carnation Good Start), MeadJohnson (Enfamil), or Similac.

    P.S. I’ve worked as a Maternity/Neonatal nurse in the hospital, and let me tell you: Representatives from formula companies are right there influencing nurses, and health care providers with promotional and advertising materials. I noticed a trend: the product that was promoted the most to patients seemed to have a direct connection to the amount of time the rep spent with the nurses. Breast feeding was not promoted in the same way, and seemed to be discouraged, as it was easier to just give a bottle (to quantify amount of feedings, and expedite the passing of meconium). The hospital did use lactation consultants (when they were available, and to the few mothers who dared to be interested), but I think that due to the high patient load, some nurses tended to become impatient if the mother and child had problems with latching, etc. In addition, each mom left the hospital with a welcome pack (more advertising materials for the company), which included, you guessed it: baby formula. Believe me when I say, I’d rather have Medela there promoting their products and the advantages of breast milk. I cannot tell you how many times I heard, “ABC formula has DHA and RHA, which is good for the baby’s brain and eye development….blah, blah, blah” Now, that’s what I call sickening. I think that that is what zchamu meant by, “there are bigger fish to fry.”

  20. stephanieRN

    Lauredhel,

    While I am aware that this is your article, I wasn’t directing my comment to you per se. In addition, I wasn’t assuming anything about “your” experience and/or background. The purpose of my comment was to show that I was simply agreeing with zchamu, and responding to others’ martyr-like responses. However, I do think it is interesting that you would assume that I was talking to you, or that I would be sitting around thinking about your background. I understand that there will be people out there who will report controversy, and I welcome it. But try not to be so one-sided, or feign omniscience. There are two sides to every story. Hopefully others will be able to see that, and make the choice for themselves.

  21. Mindy

    Without advertising, many women (especially in the U.S.) would not be exposed to the idea that feeding breast milk to their baby is a viable, and convenient option.

    You could ask yourself why US women don’t have access to education re breastfeeding and what formula companies might have to do with that. Who has told these women that breast isn’t best?

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