After their Aqiva promotion, Wyeth is back at my daughter's school with a vengeance! This time they are marketing "Progress Gold". See the letter to parents below.
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What I hate about activities like this is that they involve my daughter's classmates. Wyeth has cleverly partnered with Gymboree and Nick Jr. and created activities for the kids DURING school hours. I am a strong-willed advocate and I am not afraid to speak my mind. But first and foremost, I am a mother and I am not a heartless mother. Much as I don't want my daughter to join this activity, how will I tell her to stay in the classroom while all her classmates go to the ground floor and have fun? N is a mature thinker but she is just 4.6 years old!
I hate Wyeth for putting me in this position. So I returned the reply slip, ticking "No" I do not want a sample and I did not fill up that little slip asking for my daughter's information. My daughter can play and have fun in their activity center but they won't be getting her information.
Oh and before I forget, doesn't Section 6(b) of Executive Order No. 51 or the Milk Code say that manufacturers shall not be permitted to give GIFTS OF ANY SORT to any member of the general public? Yes, Progress Gold is not a product within the scope of the Milk Code but samples of it are still considered "GIFTS" and last I checked Wyeth is a manufacturer of a product covered by the Milk Code! Paging the IAC!!
Has this been going own long? Are schools really being targeted by formula milk companies? Or is it because my daughter goes to a progressive school? Well, the school will definitely be hearing from me (AGAIN).
Update: 12 September 2012
On the evening of 10 September 2012 (after I had posted this letter in my FB page), I emailed the school principal and the head teacher. On the morning of 11 September 2012, I delivered my signed letter to the signatories of the "dear parents" letter. Here is what I wrote to them:
One of the advocacies I strongly believe in is the promotion of breastfeeding the Philippines. I am very active in this advocacy and devote my free time to this. Because of my advocacy, I have learned that there is nothing that the milk companies give is for FREE. There is always something in exchange and in this case, it is the access to the parents that the school permits. Under Section 6(b) of the Milk Code or Executive Order No. 51, manufacturers of products within the scope of the code are prohibited from giving GIFTS OF ANY SORT to any member of the general public. The distribution of samples (regardless of whether or not you ask the permission of parents to accept) is a gift. In exchange for that gift, you allow WYETH to freely market their product and influence the minds of our children in an environment which is supposed to be conducive for learning. In case you are unaware, milk companies have been banned from distributing their products in hospitals. This is why they have turned to schools to engage in marketing activities. I sent my daughter to XXXXX school and I am disappointed that her place of education has become a venue for the marketing tactics of formula milk companies. When I paid my child’s tuition fee to the school, I didn’t expect to be bombarded with freebies from milk companies. Further, I expected the school to develop the learning or educational activities for the students instead of the school being used as a marketing conduit by a milk company through activities by Nick Jr. and Gymboree. I have reported this activity to www.milkcodephilippines.org and I do hope that xxxxxxx Administration reconsider their position and in the future, will not accept any tie-ups, marketing, free samples from Wyeth or other milk companies. Thank you for your consideration.
On 11 September 2012, N and I went to school early because I wanted to take photos of the activity set-up of Wyeth. However, there was nothing set-up and I thought they were just going to be late due to the rains. To my pleasant surprise, I receive an email from the school principal, saying that Wyeth cancelled the activity! Here's an excerpt from the principal's email to me:
And lastly, maybe because you had this thing reported that Wyeth apparently relented and dropped today's activity. Thanks for your vigilance. I would now know better how to face this case.
My question is: if the activity is legitimate and legal, why would Wyeth cancel the activity at the last minute? The school had even asked my daughter's level to come in their P.E. outfits in preparation for the activity. My reading is that milk companies will really try to get away with anything and everything. Hence, it is up to us parents to be vigilant and call the attention of our school administration. More often than not, the school administration do not know or do not understand the intricacies of the Milk Code.
So what can you do as a breastfeeding family? Be proactive! Keep your eyes open for violations - remember a lot of violations have been so ingrained in us (we were the Suzy and Geno generation!!) that we think it is right when it is actually a violation. Report violations to www.milkcodephilippines.org