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Monday
Sep052011

When a Company Goes from Good to Very, Very Bad: The Evenflo Story

A couple of years ago, I was asked to review the new Evenflo breast pump. I received the pump by mail, gave it a try, and wrote an honest review. Unfortunately, I didn't have a lot of good things to say about the pump. I did, however, have some good things to say about the company at the time. In the review, I noted that:
There are a few things that I liked that are not specifically about the pump, but that I think are important and commendable:

  • Last year, Evenflo became the first baby bottle manufacturer to become compliant with the World Health Organization’s International Code for the Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes



  • There was a Breastfeeding information and support card included with the pump that had the URLs and phone numbers of some excellent resources for breastfeeding and breastfeeding at work. This is a departure from many bottle/formula manufacturers that tend to provide their own 1-800 number for not so great support.



That, unfortunately, has all changed. It seems that several months ago, Evenflo decided that it cared more about selling bottles and pumps than it did about truly supporting breastfeeding. It decided to stop complying with the WHO's International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. In other words, it is now just like every other bottle and formula manufacturer out there -- working hard to convince moms that breastfeeding is inconvenient, embarrassing and difficult.

I first noticed their new tactics when I saw a few people questioning @EvenfloBaby on twitter about tweets that made breastfeeding in public and in front of the in-laws seem...weird. Tweets like this one:

Evenflo "Forced" to Breastfeed

Forced to feed on-the-go? I don't know about you, but I was never forced to feed on-the-go. I loved the fact that I could breastfeed anytime, anywhere. In fact, I loved it so much and feel so strongly about it that I wrote 50 reasons for breastfeeding anytime, anywhere and Would You, Could You, Nurse in Public? and made my Covering Up is a Feminist Issue video. A tweet like the one from Evenflo isn't directly telling moms that breastfeeding in public is inappropriate, but it does insinuate that perhaps they should feel a bit uncomfortable about it.

But that wasn't it. Once I started looking at some more of Evenflo's tweets and clicking on some of the links, I found their videos. This company, which used to support breastfeeding moms and provide them with links to excellent breastfeeding support, now makes videos intended to make breastfeeding look difficult and to humourously position their products (be it a breast pump or a bottle) as the way to save the day.

Take a look at this one, with the critical mother-in-law and uncomfortable father-in-law. Instead of telling them to "F%&K Off" (or getting her spouse to do so -- after all, they are his parents!), she rushes to the back room to pump a bottle so that the in-laws can feed the baby.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_90lwKiqG7s&feature=relmfu

That is just one of several new videos intended to promote their breast pump and their bottles and make them seem more convenient and less embarrassing than just breastfeeding.

Do we really need companies like Evenflo to reinforce the myths about breastfeeding and make moms feel like it is uncomfortable or inconvenient? What if we lived in a world where we weren't taught to expect society (and our in-laws) to criticize us for feeding our babies?

Update: Evenflo apologizes several times and eventually gets it right.
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Reader Comments (185)

That video is awful! There are so many thing wrong with it! Bad move Evenflo.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCeleste

Wow. That video is something else. I guess it was intended to be humorous -- I must admit - I smiled when the father-in-law said, "Definitely 2%." I was expecting there to be some immature crack about how 'gross' breastmilk is (à la "Friends") -- but it just comes off as being stereotypical and annoying.

I had a similar experience with relatives making passive-aggressive comments about me feeding too much, or "hogging" the feeding, or that I should let him have bottles sometimes to "share the load". I didn't go so far as to say "f-off" (although I wanted to - believe me!), but I was educated enough about breastfeeding and confident enough in my choices to not second guess myself. These comments were coming from women who gave birth during a time when it was still commonly accepted to smoke while pregnant, so I've never give much stock to any pregnancy & baby health advice they may have.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

What the heck! That visor infuriates me. The slow motion effects, the nagging, hateful grandma...angry. I never needed to supportthem because I don't needany gadgets but I sure as heck will never buy any of their 'savy' items now.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVioletsouffle

Grrr. I knew that they were not compliant any more, but this sucks. In fact, this ad totally disgusts me - talk about playing on mothers' fears.

There was an interesting blog post from Nancy Mohrbacher, who used to work for Ameda (owned by Evenflo) about why she resigned - that's one strong woman :)

http://www.nancymohrbacher.com/blog/2011/7/7/my-new-industry-free-life.html

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJuliette

this is maybe the most horrible video I've ever seen. there are so many appalling bits i don't know where to start. I can say that if my partner allowed such behaviour from their parents, I would loose it.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermegan

this is so sad....and pathetic too. Why can't any company out there do the right thing - and with pride? What's wrong with that? In the end, it WILL make them money!

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

This is so disappointing - thanks for bringing attention to how anti-breastfeeding (really anti-mother!) themes creep up in advertising. It's not just about having pictures of bottles on the packaging as Medela and Evenflo would have you believe - not being Code-compliant changes the tone and approach of advertisers, apparently almost immediately.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle @ Mama Bear

As a marketing professional and mother, I am appalled by that video. When I saw the tweet, I was like, well, okay - that I can accept. There's nothing about the video that's acceptable. Personally I was never very comfortable nursing my eldest in public, but that's because she and I always struggled at the beginning of every feeding - so I usually would get self-conscious. With my triplets, I couldn't dream of nursing in public because nursing my preemies always involved nipple shields, nursing 2 at a time, nursing and pumping at the same time, etc. It was too much of an assembly line in some respects to even dream of going out in public in the first place. Luckily I felt more support for my attempts to nurse my babies rather than disdain, but even then I was only able to successfully stay a breastfeeding mom for 6 months with my eldest and just 4 months (supplementing all the time) with my triplets.

That video made me want to cry. It's so hard to make a breastfeeding choice and stick with it through some of the challenges. This attitude presented from these videos does nothing to help a mother at all - at any level - even beyond the breastfeeding question, from my perspective.

Disgusted by my own profession, yet again.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Wait, so if your family is insensitive and clings stubbornly to ignorant ideas, you should...give in, pump, and let them give your baby a bottle? This would piss me off even if I *wasn't* at all concerned about breastfeeding. Ugh. I'm all for keeping peace in the family, but not at the expense of something this important.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

That video is so ridiculous! I feel badly for any mother who has seen it who has pushy in-laws and doesn't have the confidence to stand up to that kind of behavior. My in-laws behaved the same way when I had my first baby. I didn't let them get to me. I let them know why breastfeeding was best, how I knew the baby was getting enough even though I couldn't measure how much he ate, how they'd be able to give a bottle later once we established our relationship and my supply. By the time my second baby came along, their attitudes had changed and I actually overheard my father-in-law bragging to others about how his daughter-in-law breastfeeds both his grandsons. My breastpump was a lifesaver - when my baby couldn't latch and when I returned to work - but not when I caved under the pressure from my anti-breastfeeding in-laws.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoelene

Thanks for doing this post. The videos are shameful.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBestforBabes

That video is horrible. It makes me so uncomfortable on so many levels. Telling moms to cave to overbearing people--by using their product, of course--rather than supporting them. Do they really need to shove the insensitive in-laws bad behaviors as the norm into new mom's faces? "Gee, buy our product and they will leave you alone"--'cause NO They Won't. Support moms. It's the right thing to do. Gosh, it makes me cringe.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLena

Absolutely obnoxious. I almost couldn't finish watching.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndi

I'm so sad that they went from being a supportive, compliant company to spouting off this nonsense. I was a huge Evenflo supporter, because they were a code keeper. Reading their Twitter stream yesterday made me ache for the new moms who will believe their HORRID advice, and this video is just so over the top I am at a loss for words. It makes me want to cry for all the moms who will be set up for an unsuccessful breastfeeding relationship because of it.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaty

omg........it's like a bad SNL skit or something.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjamie

We shared that Tweet on DailyMomtra as well... they posted it on Facebook. All of our readers were understandably irritated as well. That commercial was DISGUSTING. That really pisses me off. I am totally appalled! Way to stand up for your wife! Made even worse that they said she hated pumping, yet STILL did it anyway rather than just taking the baby into the bedroom to nurse and telling the mother-in-law to politely shove it.

Frankly, this is on par for me with their car seat commercial where they had a tiny baby forward-facing, and didn't even buckle him in right. They are focusing so much on "funny" commercials that they are seriously sending HIDEOUS messages. Shame on you, Evenflo!

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristie Haskell

I was going to be all rawr if the FIL had made some sort of gross comment about how it tasted with breastmilk. It was bad enough that the faces he made said, "EW". The whole marketing ploy is disgusting....

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter

Appalling and absurd! EvenfloBaby's behavior for making this is worse than the in-laws! Thanks for making me aware about this Annie. Now I can try to spread the word to those who maybe won't realize these ignorant anti-breastfeeding messages. It's NOT savvy ... it's NOT cute or funny at all.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStorkStories

How sneaky!! I hate sublimal ads and this saddens me. Why can't they say "if you aren't able to be with your baby during their mealtimes, or have to go to work, then please feel comfortable with our products". It is because of this instilled shame that many new mom's go straight to using formula for their babies. What a shame.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTeresa

i think that is the most degrading video I have seen in some time.... and from a company that is meant to support breastfeeding??!! Oh my gosh! How very sad! I for one am glad you shared this video and also glad that Best For Babes is no longer connected with this company. How so very sad!

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMummies Nummies

Ugh, that's so sneaky and underhanded! And it sucks, because discerning consumers who breastfeed and still want to buy a pump and bottles will be even more limited in their choices if they decide not to buy from Evenflo. Ugh.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Anita

That video was one of the most terrible things I've ever seen. I wanted to reach through the camera and punch that lady. And then the drama over fil drinking the milk? What is breast milk the most disgusting assistance in the universe???

You better believe I will be leaving some very negative feedback for evenflo.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnnac

There is so much bad about this. Notice how with the 2% "joke," that they are subtly implying that breast milk is "less than whole."

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterladykay

There is so much bad about this. Notice how with the 2% "joke," they are subtly implying that breast milk is "less than whole."

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterladykay

Ah, this makes me sick. How horrible of a commercial/company/idea. :(

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTirzah

That's just horrible.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLone Star Ma

[...] just read a post by Annie at PhDinParenting.com and I had to look into this more. She posted a tweet from @EvenfloBaby and a video from their [...]

zomg Dad don't drink that miiiiiilk! oh noes its booby! it would have been funny if he said, "That's not half and half." Then took another sip, and said, "It's pretty good, though. I can see why Sam likes it."

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSkyfire

This makes me so mad. I took to my blog, too. Thanks for pointing it out.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJacki

I know, when breastmilk is pretty creamy. In coffee, I'd guess that someone might ask if it was some kind of sweetened creamer if they didn't know better.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSkyfire

This is outrageous. Haven't they ever heard of the WHO code? I will never purchase or recommend another product of theirs. Unbelievable.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarissa Potter

Too bad I'm done with pumping & bottles. Ridiculous video. I am fortunate to have a supportive family who chose to validate our choice to nurse rather than ridicule. Thou I think my MIL isn't sure what to think about me "still" nursing my 15 month old.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWendy

The worst part is everyone acting as if the father-in-law is drinking urine or something equally horrible when he's just drinking breastmilk. Ugh, whatever.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

I am ashamed of Evenflo. I will no longer be buying any of their products. That's quite the loss since I have 3 kids, a newborn, and a dozen friends and family expecting babies. I need to get shower gifts and none of them will be Evenflo.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarina

Absolute trash. Shame on Evenflo. Unfortunately, the free pumps given out to mothers on WIC are this brand. I have one and it hurts. Pumps do not pull milk out the right way. Expressing with your own hand is MUCH easier and less painful. Breasts are for babies and they are nothing to be ashamed of. A receiving blanket is more than enough coverage when nursing in mixed company. That 2% comment is ridiculous! What is Evenflo trying to do- cross market so that mothers who breastfeed will also think they need to supplement with Evenflo formula? Big companies- always thinking about theri profit margins.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRachael

Not only is this a horrible dipection of a special breastfeeding relationship but it also puts a really unrealistic connotation towards mothers-in-laws. I was a proud bottle feeder and yet if I werent, no one would ever have bugged me because they couldn't feed the baby. I'm so glad I didn't use any of their products.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMiranda

I have *never* understood the totally bizarre trope of "breastfeeding is selfish because other people NEED to feed the baby". Was that idea completely manufactured by the formula industry? Where does that come from? Why is holding/ playing with a baby not sufficient bonding? Personally, I feel a lot closer to baby rocking her to sleep than I do feeding her a bottle. Do people really CARE? Seriously? I mean, from a mother or MIL I would be tempted to think it was just a power play (I can be as important as you are).

OMG, you guys, the rude comment about the 2% milk was nothing compared her in-laws speculating about the size of her breasts! Gross. And of course in conjunction with the 2% comment, basically the ILs are saying that breastfeeding is sub-standard.

If I was that woman, I would spend the entire visit shut up in my room, with the baby.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterErin

Hideous :( I am so saddened and horrified by that video and by Evenflo's new direction. I literally couldn't believe what I was watching - it's almost like a parody of a bad commercial.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermilkfacemama

Frankly, I can't bear to watch the commercial.

What's the best way to respond to such harmful nonsense? Spread the word, yes. Write to the company to express disgust? And what else?

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRachael

Wow. Unreal.
Horrible moves, Evenflo.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Sugarpants

Really? the woman should pump because her MIL guilted her into it?
No one but the mom NEED to feed the baby. There are other ways to bond with a child & taking the mom's role during feeding time, so you can relive your mommy days is NOT one of them or as healthy way to do it either.
This whole video (minus the old man enjoying his milk) pissed me off.

How is making woman feel self-consious about doing something natural and then being forced to SHARE their mommy-hood, cool?

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTonks

Agreed. Like Annie noted, the mother and the father should have just told them to F*ck off and get on board with how the parents want to do things in their own house.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercoffee with julie

Slightly off topic but talking about the WHO Code reminds me - were you aware that IBCLE is tabling a new Code of Ethics for IBCLC's so that they *don't* have to adhere to the WHO Code??

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermilkfacemama

I agree, my first MIL hounded me incessantly to let her feed the babies bottles, and tried every single tactic from 'let me help out' to 'it's not fair' and back again. I always wanted to say "these are my kids, you had your turn!". I agree, I think it's often a power play.

Fortunately someone had given me The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding when I was pg, and I was well educated and strong enough not to give into pressure. I had four kids and didn't bottle feed any of them, and guess what? They're still all super close to their grandmothers!

I think it's a bit of a generational thing, where the current grandparents both bottle fed for the most part, and turned to their own parents for everything. Most mothers today turn to each other instead, and educate ourselves instead of asking our parents everything.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaranda

after watching this, I clicked around and found the video of the dad trying (and failing) to make a bottle at 3 am, billing the evenflo bottle as the easy solution to night-feeding.

Know what the super easy solution is? LIFTING UP YOUR SHIRT FOR YOUR CO-SLEEPING BABY.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternilatti

milkfacemama:

I wasn't aware of that. Do you have more info on it?

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

It's sad to hear that another company has decided that profits are more important than what's best. That video is dispicable! I almost couldn't watch the whole thing. I type this as is sit here Breastfeeding my baby. I don't care that no one else gets to feed her. this is my bonding time with her. There's lot of other things other people can do with her besides feeding her.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAllison Hardman

Rachael:

Beyond that, don't buy their products. Evenflo is a huge company and they sell a lot of products that don't have anything to do with pumping/bottle feeding. If enough breastfeeding moms (or even moms in general who don't like this kind of crap) are upset about this and stop buying their car seats and other products, it will have an impact on their bottom line.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

That was onthor the worst videos ever. Evenflo should be ashamed of themselves.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKris

That video is... odd and uncomfortably bad. I feel so awkward and embarrassed that anyone would post something like that. I'm embarrassed for the "actors." And for the company. The tweets were innocuous enough, really, but the videos... GAG. I mean, the reality is, I'd be freaking out if my father in law drank that much of my breastmilk - because it's liquid gold! And for my BABY! (also, um, my breastmilk doesn't look anything like half and half and is sweeter so uh...??? who on earth wrote the absurd script?) Seriously, how important IS it for the mother in law to "bond" with MY baby? Um... not right now, lady. I'm fine with the father being able to feed the baby (but that other 3am feeding video makes dad look like a moron and kind of a jerk - DO NOT LIKE).

I'll admit to being mildly uncomfortable breastfeeding in public - and definitely in front of my father-in-law. But those are my own body issues, not baby feeding issues.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersarah

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