Similac (and all formula companies) need to constantly reinvent ways to market their products and find new market shares (Similac Mom, anyone?).
They have to find ways to get their products into the hands of moms and the mouths of babes as close to birth as possible.
Getting doctors and nurses to hawk their products to vulnerable new parents is the fastest path between their factory and baby’s unsuspecting virgin gut.
As if the massive amounts free samples and products and predatory ads aren’t enough, they’re looking for more subtle ways to garner a loyal following. After all, if the nurse trusts the brand, she’ll be more likely to recommend it to mom, who will take the nurse’s advice to heart and stick with the ostensibly superior brand (when in reality, she could do just as well to buy generic.) (If you use formula, be wary of this kind of marketing. There is no best brand.)
Formula brands are seeking consumer trust via expert advice. Enter: Abbott Night Nurse Nation.
From the ‘Info’ tab of the page (accessed 1/6/11), “Night Nurse Nation is brought to you by Abbott Nutrition and is meant to be a representation of the interests of the nation’s registered Night Nurses.” As of 2/10/13, the page’s about section reads: “NightNurseNation, a community for Night Nurses that provides support & resources focusing on nursing at night, neonatal care, & infant nutrition. From Abbott Nutrition.” At the time I’m writing this, it’s got 2,455 likes on Facebook. As of 2/10/13, it’s up to 18,327 likes.
Hmm. What would Abbott/Similac’s interest be in getting friendly with night nurses? (As opposed to say, all nurses? Or all Labor & Delivery nurses, or all Postpartum nurses?).
New parents tend to freak out at the thought of losing sleep with their newborns. All it takes is a sweet night nurse coming in and saying, “you get your rest while you still can and let me take Junior to the nursery for the night. We’ll take wonderful care of him for you!”
BAM. The nurse may be well-intentioned (hey, she probably is!), but rooming in is best for breastfeeding. Babies need free access to the breast, especially in those crucial early days. It’s understandable that a nurse might want to give a newborn a bottle under the auspices of helping new parents rest. But as soon as the baby goes to the nursery for the night, the breastfeeding relationship has been interrupted.
When those nurses are on Facebook, looking for camaraderie with their fellow night nurses, they’ll find this Abbott/Similac-sponsored community.
Abbott/Similac then gets to filter the facts, news pieces, and opinions that these nurses encounter on their page. Being able to control that exposure puts the formula company at a major advantage.
They’re not extolling formula or trashing breastfeeding; they don’t have to. They’re creating this lovely red herring to distract these nurses from the facts about formula. This is a pretty sophisticated tactic. Formula companies bankroll stuff like this because it’s good for their bottom line, period.
There’s a fox in the hen house and it’s funded by Abbott Labs.
NB: This post was originally published on my old site, Just West of Crunchy. It’s republished on amywest.co as of 2/4/13 and edited/updated 2/10/13.