Victim Of Circumstance???

Yesterday, I wrote a post explaining why the WHO Code is so important. If you didn’t see it, please take a moment to look at it now.

Today, I want to talk about one of the companies that I work with: Ameda. Ameda is a breastpump manufacturer and a great company to work with, they are owned by Evenflo. The reason that I don’t carry any other brand of breastpumps in my boutique is because of the way that Ameda treats me and the quality of their products. They make great products, which are all WHO Code compliant, and they market them responsibly in accordance with the Code. Even though I am very small when it comes to resellers of their products – they never make me feel small. I have a sales rep who checks in on me regularly and does more than most sales reps – she helps me to be successful and provides me wiht the tools I need to do that. She even gives me tools to HELP moms (notice I said HELP, not sell them products). Just this week, I placed an order for some items that I needed to restock on Ameda’s website. One of the products that I ordered has a new item number. So when customer service received my order, they shipped everything except that item. Well, my sales rep noticed it and placed an order on my behalf for the correct item number. I didn’t even notice it until yesterday when I was looking to see how long it would be for my items to arrive. When I emailed her to tell her that item didn’t ship, she told me that she noticed the mistake by customer service last week and placed an order on my behalf for the items that they didn’t ship. She also told them to update the wholesale order site so that the old item number wouldn’t be available for ordering – so that stores like me don’t make the mistake again. And today, the parts she ordered for me arrived – with perfect timing for me to get them to my customers. I was AMAZED at how proactive she was at taking care of me. And I am thrilled that I can fulfill my orders without any further delay.

Ameda was formerly owned by Hollister, and was sold to Evenflo in 2007. At that time, Evenflo was not in compliance with the WHO Code for the marketing of breast milk substitutes – but they worked with Ameda to become complaint. And they became the ONLY BOTTLE MANUFACTURER in the world to be compliant with the WHO Code.

So when I read last week that Evenflo has decided to STOP following the WHO Code. I was devastated! Why? Well, Evenflo – in addition to manufacturing bottles and car seats is also the parent company of Ameda. Ameda is a breastpump manufacturer and they have always been in compliance with the WHO code.

Evenflo maintained their compliance to the WHO code and their commitment to moms for several years after acquiring Ameda. But just this month, they announced that they will increase their marketing efforts of their bottles in response to decreased sales. Can you blame them?? Not really – they have a whole division that manufacturers bottles – bottles that moms who breastfeed and moms who bottle feed need. And their sales have dropped because they abide by the code to HELP MOMS when other companies (their competitors) do not. How can they possibly compete when the playing field isn’t even?

I immediately contacted my rep at Ameda as soon as I heard the news. She called me and talked to me and forwarded the “official Ameda response” which I have pasted below.

Ameda, one of the world’s best-known providers of products that enhance the comfort and ease of breastfeeding, has a longstanding mission to help empower mothers to achieve their breastfeeding goals. As part of our ongoing mission to be active in the global breastfeeding community, we at Ameda support the World Health Organization’s goals, including its International Code of Marketing Breast Milk Substitutes, also known as the WHO Code. This is a voluntary standard adopted in the 1980s to stop the marketing of breast milk substitutes and to promote lactation and breastfeeding worldwide, in support of the health of mothers and babies.

For some of our customers, it may be important to understand that the Ameda brand is owned by Evenflo Company, Inc., a leading manufacturer of high-quality baby care and juvenile products. Evenflo announced that effective July 1 it will begin strengthening its marketing support of Evenflo bottles, an action that will not allow Evenflo to maintain its compliance with the WHO Code. As a developer and marketer of the highest quality breast pumps and accessories, Ameda’s products, packaging, and marketing activities are in harmony with the WHO Code. Ameda will continue, as always, to adhere to the WHO Code.

For over 65 years, Ameda has been a strong and active partner of breastfeeding mothers, the lactation community, and medical institutions. We remain firmly committed to offering the education, resources, products, and programs that ensure the breastfeeding experience remains as positive as possible for both mothers and babies.

So, Ameda is owned by Evenflo, but they operate independently and they are complaint with the code. I have stopped working with other companies that don’t abide by the code. Is Ameda a Victim of Circumstance?? They don’t have a choice about who owns them. They were sold by one company to another – they used their influence to help that company become compliant – but now all of that has changed. I love Ameda. They are a great company to work with. They treat me with respect. They don’t get to choose their parents, so should they be punished for the sins of their parents?

As a small business owner myself, I often make choices between doing something that will drive my business forward and doing what I believe in. I have chosen to discontinue products and to not work with companies that don’t meet my ethical standards. Could I make more money if I did work with them? Maybe yes, maybe no – in some cases – definitely yes. But I have chosen to stick with my principles.

What do you think? Can I justify sticking with Ameda, when I have dropped other manufacturers because of their affiliation with code-violators? Ameda didn’t choose to join forces with a code-violator – they were purchase by a company, worked diligently to help that company become compliant and succeeded. They are still code compliant, but their parent company is not. Other companies that I have blogged about in the past, have made a conscious decision to join forces with a code-violator and they DON’T SEE ANYTHING WRONG WITH IT.

So please leave a comment and give me your feedback. I’d love to know what you think!

6 comments to Victim Of Circumstance???

  • Anonymous

    IN this instance, I think carrying Ameda is still acceptable. Other brands that I know you were dropping heavily advertised their new affiliation. I don’t think Ameda is doing that. They are still Ameda and still complying with the code.

    Truth be told, while I understand and appreciate the reasons behind the code, and think it really does apply for for Breastmilk substitutes (i.e. formula) I never really thought it was fair as far as bottles were concerned (to some extent) b/c breastfeeding moms need bottles too, and advertising is one way we’re made aware of the different brands. I agree that they shouldn’t advertise them as “closest to breast” etc… but they should be able to advertise to compete with market share…

  • This is such an interesting debate for me.
    Personally I think you’re right, in that Ameda doesn’t have a choice and are still planning to be WHO compliant. I also wonder if EvenFlo didn’t step up their marketing would they eventually go under? And then where would Ameda be? More of a long term thing I think.
    Second, I have a personal friend who works with moms with HIV/AIDS in Africa. I’ve asked her lots of questions about formula marketing and things like that in Africa. And I think the way we see it here in America is very different from reality. Yes, perhaps formula is not ideal, but if it can save a baby from becoming HIV infected?
    And honestly, she works in rural areas where most mothers would LOVE to save their babies, but can’t afford the formula to do so. She provides it for them by donation.
    So I guess there’s 2 sides to ever coin.

  • What are the *other* reasons you carry Ameda over other breastpumps? Are the other reasons still there (closed pump system, etc)? If they are, and Ameda is, at least policy-wise separating themselves from EvenFlo, then stick with them. If the other reasons you sell Ameda are no longer there, then switch products.

  • Good point Deena – yes, all of the other reasons that I carry them are still there. They carry quality products that moms can trust and they stand behind them. Nothing has changed. Just the marketing tactics of their parent…. Judy

  • First off – no, I wouldn’t stop using Ameda. Doesn’t sound like they really had any say in this. I mean, what can they do about Evenflo’s actions at this point?

    Secondly, as far as Evenflo is concerned – what are they actually saying in the advertising, and how objectionable is it? The WHO code is open to a fair degree of interpretation as to what counts as ‘marketing’ (in the past, I’ve been asked to blog about a woman who was barred by Mothering magazine from placing an advert in their magazine to sell the bottles that she’d used for her pumped breast milk as an exclusive pumper, in the name of the WHO code), and it is quite possible that whatever it is they’re doing is technically in violation of a strict interpretation of the WHO code but not actually a particular problem in practice.

  • […] with them to help them reach this status. But last July, they announced that they were going to start advertising their bottles again, hence giving up their code-complaint status. White the Ameda division of Evenflo remained […]

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