A television advertisement for Danone Aptamil Follow-On milk featured various scenes as follows: a mother breastfeeding her baby, a mother with a baby in a swimming pool, a toddler playing in the sand and a toddler running with a raincoat on. A mother is then shown bottle-feeding her baby.
On screen text states “Nutricia inspired by 40 years of breastmilk research” and images of the nutrients that are found in the milk.
A baby is then show swimming towards the surface of the water and into its mother’s arms.
“Breastfeeding provides your baby with the best start in life. As they grow, we believe that giving them different experiences helps build their resilience. If you chose to move on, trust the number one. Aptamil Follow On Milk, inspired by 40 years of breastmilk research, enriched with our unique blend of ingredients, including Vitamin D, which supports the normal function of their immune system.
Aptamil Follow On Milks, raise them ready.”
The statement “Breastfeeding is best” is on screen for approximately the first 5 seconds.
This is then replaced by the footnote: “Follow on milk should only be used as part of a mixed diet from 6 months. Talk to a healthcare professional. Vitamin D contributes to the normal function of the immune system.”
With the statement “To verify contact Aptaclub.ie/number-one” added later in the advertisement.
Further onscreen text states “Raise Them Ready. Aptamil follow on milk. www.aptaclub.ie”
A medical doctor objected to the statement in the advertisement that “as they grow, we believe that giving them different experiences helps build their resilience” as he believed that it heavily implied that switching a baby from breastmilk to follow-on bottle milk could improve a baby’s health. He considered that this was untrue and said that the WHO recommended breastfeeding up to 24 months old. The complainant said that breastfeeding was important in developing a baby’s immune system and switching them to follow-on milk would cause harm and he believed that it would certainly not improve their resilience.
The advertisers said that they believed that the advertisement made it clear that breastfeeding was best for babies. They said that the voiceover had stated “breastfeeding provides your baby with the best start in life” and the coinciding visuals showed a woman breastfeeding her baby, and an on-screen super stated “breastfeeding is best”. They also considered that the advertisement had made it clear that Aptamil Follow-On milk should only be used as part of a mixed diet from 6 months and therefore was not a breastmilk substitute. They also said that the on-screen supers advised seeking healthcare professional advice.
They also said that the voiceover uses the sentence “if you choose to move on”, a conditional statement, as opposed to an imperative and only after the advertisement had made clear that breastfeeding was best. They said that the advertisement had clearly stated that breastfeeding was best, both in the voiceover and in the supers shown on-screen and nowhere in the advertisement had they suggested that moving to Follow-On milk from breastmilk would improve a baby’s health.
They said that they agreed with the complainant’s statement that ‘breastfeeding was important in developing a baby’s immune system’, however, they disagreed that choosing to move on from breastfeeding and giving a baby Follow-on milk ‘would cause harm’ They said that their Follow-on milk complied with Commission Directive 2006/141/EC on infant formulae and follow-on formulae and all their Aptamil milks had gone through extensive quality and safety checks, including clinical trials. In the circumstances they considered that their television advertisement adhered to the Code, it had clearly highlighted that breastfeeding is best for infants, and it had gone beyond the requirement of Section 8.33(a) of the Code as it had also featured breastfeeding in the advertisement and had stated in the voiceover and onscreen supers that breastfeeding was best.
They did not agree that their advertisement was implying that switching from breastfeeding to follow-on milk was an ‘experience’ which built resilience and therefore offered a benefit to the baby. They said that the combination of the clear support for breastfeeding being best and the sequence of both the voice over messaging and images in the advertisement did not support that implication.
They again reiterated that the advertisement made it clear that breastfeeding was best, through visuals and through the voiceover. They said that the images used to support the statement “we believe that giving them different experiences helps build their resilience” did not demonstrate a baby being bottle-fed, rather it had focused purely on images of babies engaged in a variety of physical activities demonstrating how a baby might ‘explore’ the world. They said that they did not suggest that moving on from breastmilk to follow-on milk was an ‘experience’ and they did not feature any images of bottle feeding or Aptamil follow-on milk during that voiceover period. They also argued that parents would not reasonably describe a day to day activity like feeding as an ‘experience’. They said that the definition of ‘experience’ was the process of getting knowledge or skill from doing, seeing or feeling things. They said that the act of feeding was innate to the majority of babies and therefore they did not believe parents would consider this to be an ‘experience’ that could grow their resilience. They said that set in the context of a very clear and strong message during the advertisement that breastfeeding was best, they did not feel that consumers would be misled to believe that they should change from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding to build better resilience.
The advertisers also said that the voiceover statement “if you choose to move on….” only appeared after the advertisement had made it clear that breastfeeding was best and nowhere in the advertisement did they suggest that moving on to follow-on milk from breastmilk would improve a baby’s health.
Complaint Not Upheld.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Complaints Committee considered that the opening and early scenes, using visuals and a relevant voiceover, significantly highlighted that breastfeeding was best. This included featuring a woman breastfeeding her baby. While the Committee noted that the complainant considered the statement “we believe that giving them different experiences helps build their resilience” had heavily implied that switching a baby from breastmilk to follow-on bottle milk could improve a baby’s health, they did not consider that the advertisers were making such a claim, or that such a claim could be implied. They said that, taking account of the clear images used in the advertisement together with the voiceover content and text, the reference to resilience was linked to the difference sensory experiences portrayed in the visuals of the advertisement. The Complaints Committee also noted that the advertisement had clearly stated that there was a choice involved as to whether to ‘move on’ to follow-on formula. In the circumstances, the Committee did not consider that the advertising was in breach of the Code.
No further action required.