Thursday, December 28, 2006

December, 2006

As I entered Zellers in Northgate Mall to look at nursing bras, I was greeted by a huge red and white poster hanging directly in the entranceway. It was a sign for furniture or appliances, and depicted a dad bottlefeeding a baby, sitting next to a refridgerator stuffed full of bottles. Normally, I would just mutter and grumble to myself, but I was feeling extra lactivishy that day, so I stood in line at customer service. Being one of the last shopping days before Christmas, it took a few minutes, but I had a mission.

When it was my turn, I explained to the baffled customer service rep that I found one of the posters offensive, and I would like to speak to a manager. She said that he was in a meeting. I was willing to wait, and found myself a seat. "Would you like a candy cane?" she asked meekly.

After voicing my concerns to the manager, he said the best I could do was fill out a customer comment card and it would be sent to the head office in Toronto. That didn't sound very promising, and I said so, asking for the number or email address of a higher up. He still said he couldn't do anything else, but promised to courier my comment card myself. Well, it was a start, so I agreed.

I thought that was the end of that, but shortly after Christmas, a gentleman named Gary Mader called me from The Hudson's Bay Company in Toronto to discuss my concerns. A short game of telephone tag followed, and we finally spoke directly, on January 9th. I am ashamed to say that my lactivism got the better of me (which surprised me, since I am usually very articulate on the phone), and I was so flustered and frustrated with his words, I couldn't get my point across. At one point in the conversation he actually said, "you do know that ALL moms eventually bottlefeed". WTH? "No, they don't" I told him. "Yes, they do," he continued to argue. After telling him I had 3 sons, none of whom have ever taken a bottle, I asked him why they didn't portray a breastfeeding family in their posters. "We don't use breastfeeding in our wouldn't be appropriate". "But you find it appropriate to use bottles." Blah blah blah, we went back and forth, with him repeating over and over that he found my concerns valid, and he would bring the issue to his superiors and promised to get back to me with the outcome. Yeah, this guy's in customer relations, he knows how to talk. I hung up the phone, very disgruntled, thinking I would never hear from him again.

Wrong! Less than an hour later, he called again and told me.......they're changing the poster! Well, you could've heard my jaw hit the floor. Seriously. Flabbergasted, I thanked him profusely, and said I would let everyone know how accomodating he had been.

A follow-up letter to Mr. Mader was sent, with a copy of the World Health Organization's Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, just to inform the Hudson's Bay Company that they are in violation of the agreement, which both Canada and United States has signed.

*see the code in full here******

Below are some pictures of the store and the posters....sorry I couldn't get them any bigger.

Zellers Major Appliances Advertising Campaign

The advertising campaign at Zellers/Hudson's Bay Company portrayed a small refridgerator packed wall to wall with bottles. This is in direct violation of World Health Organization's International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes.