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All content of this blog is my own opinion only. It does not represent the views of any organisation or association I may work for, or be associated with. Nothing within this blog should be considered as medical advice and you should always consult your Doctor.

Udder Covers - manipulative marketing?

I'm not a massive fan of nursing covers for a whole host of reasons, perhaps I will blog about that soon - but "Udder Covers" nursing covers have annoyed me on a whole new level.

I hear some mums like nursing covers - I can appreciate there may be a market for them, particularly in some areas; but I totally disagree with the technique Udder Covers are using to increase sales.

I sign up for news alerts on various topics - breastfeeding naturally is one.  Just before Christmas I noticed an influx of articles about nursing covers - as some alerts are US (where nursing covers are a lot more popular than the UK) I didn't think too much of it.  Until one hit my inbox and hit my blood pressure button too:
"Breastfeeding Cover – The Most Useful Product For Breastfeeding Women
A breastfeeding cover is critical for any full time mother who has the desire to feed their newborn discretely while in public. It protects your modesty even if you are used to feeding in public. No full time mother is ever relaxed feeding her newborn when any members of the public by have a clear view of her breasts" here
A nursing cover is critical for discreet feeding?

Suggesting that no mother can ever be relaxed when the public has a clear view of her breasts is interesting - except we all know that breastfeeding in public doesn't show anyone a "clear view of her breasts".

The picture on the left shows a baby breastfeeding in public - where's this clear view?

This tactic undermines the normality of feeding an infant milk from its own species, and perpetuates the notion women should feel nervous of feeding in public and the way to solve this is cover yourself up!

The piece written by "jennevans0919" might read as just a standard article about generic nursing covers - until you get to the last sentence and realise it's actually just one big underhand advert:
"Find out which website is giving out free breastfeeding covers! Go to http://www.breastfeedingcover.net now"
Which links to?  Udder Covers of course!

The next day another news notification arrived:
Breast Feeding Cover – The Essential Accessory For Every Breastfeeding Mother.

A breast feeding cover is necessary for any mother who really wants to nourish their little one discretely while in public. Every full time mother has some inhibitions about breastfeeding their little one in public
Ringing any bells here?   Every mother has inhibitions about feeding in public?  Well if she didn't before reading the article advert, she probably will after being told it's essential in order to feed discretely.
While most people turn away their eyes when they notice that you are nursing, you are always apprehensive about who is looking.
Day after day a version of the above has plopped into my inbox, all written by the same author - all with very slightly different wording so the search engines pick it up...
  • http://www.gimmecandy.com/2011/01/breast-feeding-covers-dont-be-caught-without-one (a second article on the same articles site)
  • http://mypeacockorchid.com/?p=30489
  • http://blog.rapichat.com/2011/01/07/breast-feeding-covers-dont-be-caught-without-one/
  • http://www.pressreleasehere.com/breastfeeding-cover-try-one-on-for-size/
  • http://www.kingofthebop.com/2010/12/31/breast-feeding-covers-the-new-fashion-trend-for-hip-nursing-women/
  • http://www.brendurance.com/breast-feeding-covers-the-most-useful-product-for-nursing-women.html
This list is not exhaustive.

Since the first post where I left a comment that was of course deleted, comments have always been switched off (weird that!)

Just in case you were worried non breastfeeding mothers were being left out - fear not:
At times when you have to use the bottle, the same breastfeeding cover can be used to shield your clothing from any dripping milk.
Because of course there's times all breastfeeding mothers have to use a bottle - apparently.  And just in case you happen to sit with that bottle upside down, pouring everywhere - phew, you're covered!

Giving one away free (with buyer just paying shipping costs) is also rather clever - free things circulate round message boards like hotcakes; so anyone who had planned to just go breastfeed has now been given the option of a "free cover", essential for discreet feeding.  Plus the buyer has paid shipping - one reviewer states:
Not sure it was worth the $9 or so shipping, I imagine that with the low cost of the materials, the minimal labor required to make the product and the $1 or so shipping cost them (it arrived in a little envelope,) that they make a fairly hefty margin on each one they send you for "free".

So it seems manipulative marketing techniques that undermine breastfeeding aren't solely restricted to those producing an alternative feeding substance - it can be even more subtly undermined by a company posing as supportive...

18 comments:

  1. OMG - that's horrible. I have tons of words for this, but I can't write any of them here... Sharing.

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  2. Disgusting. I'm never afraid to breastfeed in public, my daughter hates covers of any kind and what the hell would I have to be uncomfortable doing something so natural. I too have words I'd like to bash over the head with.

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  3. nursing covers and blankets are the WORST things i have found for nursing my daughter in public. if i don't have anything over her she will leave my shirt alone. if i try to put anything over her she will, in one swift move, shove my shirt up to my neck and remove any cover i am attempting to use, AND unlatch -- thus exposing EVERYTHING to the world, lol! and no, securing anything doesn't make a difference as she has ripped fabric that was safety pinned.....

    what is NECESSARY is for John Q Public to recognize that nursing is NORMAL, and to stop discriminating against bfing women and harrassing them!!

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  4. The links to the Udder Cover promotions are broken or have been removed. They only lead to the Bloggers main design page.

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  5. I agree the marketing is awful and the descriptions are appalling-no woman should feel she has to try and struggle to latch a baby on under a sheet! However personally a nursing cover is a godsend for me as if my little one came unlatched in public I would spray people 4 feet away! (a muslin cloth works just as well though for a fraction of the cost.....)

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  6. Nursing covers are useful for those women who would otherwise NOT breastfeed because of body image issues. I personally find them offensive but if it is between women bottle feeding rather than nurse, then it is the lesser evil. I get annoyed though when people offer things for me to 'cover up with' when I am in public myself.

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  7. Anon1 - the links on some worked for me?

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  8. Wolfmother - this post isn't about whether covers are useful or not or a lesser evil, it's about the marketing tactics this particular company is employing to sell them...

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  9. Thank you for pointing out this wretched campaign with it's insulting and insinuating language, while not criticizing women who do use covers.

    I'll be sharing and RTing!

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  10. Ugh! If a mother wishes to use a nursing cover, great, but tactics that make it seem like she must do so aren't on. Especially when those tactics are used to market a product. I personally feel more discreet not advertising that I'm feeding my babe by getting out a cover, but that's me. That and the fact that my son would sometimes pull the cover off whilst detaching himself, thus exposing more than I would've done without the cover.

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  11. this is heading towards Nestlé's infamous formula milk sales technique.

    My daughter has been breastfeeding for 20 months now & had very little comment. She used to use a sling to carry the baby & it had an end she could flip over to cover feeding, but she very rarely used it.

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  12. I am starting my own business making and selling nursing covers using recycled materials, but NEVER would I use marking techniques as deplorable as Udder Covers (even the name disgusts me -I have breast for feeding babies, not udders like a damn cow!)!!! I feel about this much like I feel about formula companies and their spreading of misinformation in order to sabatoge breastfeeding attempts. There has to be a line between promoting a product, and using scare tactics and lies in order to rope women in.

    While I personally love my nursing cover for both my own body image issues,and to keep my son's interest at the breast -without the cover he is far too interested in everything that is going on to nurse- I would never in a million years attempt to make a mother ashamed of what is natural, beautiful, and not obscene in the least.

    Shame on you, Udder Covers!

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  13. As someone who was very shy feeding in public, my mum bought me a nursing cover over from American where she lives. I have never used it, and it part I suppose if helped my combat my shyness. It looked absolutely ridiculous! It is a all black cape that drapes over your shoulders, it looks like I was wearing a Burkha and half of it blew away.

    I would say that advent (I think Phillips?) are just as guilty with an advertising campaign they ran in Mums Magazines. It had a picture of a pregnant belly and underneath it said something along the lines of 'I've done 9 months inside, time to go alfresco' with a picture of a breast pump. To me I would read that and it says 'to take your baby out in public you need to express milk'. Not sure if others agree?

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  14. While I have Big Breasts and a big baby, i had issues with bfeeding in public i used my cover a few times then it became like a flag "look over here" my son would grab it and wave it around the $9 i spent to get it was worth it ... it helped me as a first time mom who was already unsure of bfeeding to get over the public bfeeding at the beginning and bfeed until 1 year when my son self weened.
    they have good and bad points, but if it increased the number of women bfeeding then their goal is accomplished

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  15. women should be made to feel ashamed for using them Breast feeding is hard and sometimes even harder for other women who are larger.

    Making them ashamed for using them is just wrong

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  16. I think that for the price of 36 dollars I´d rather buy an apron which that is what they look like and would be cheaper. Even a blanket would be nicer and do the same job. In any case, I really agree with you that their marketing techniques are quite something

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  17. I use a cover because my super social kids won't nurse in public without one, even if they are starving they absolutely MUST look around one more time, you know, just to make sure nothing interesting is going on while they took two swollows! But I don't get buying one, I use a shawl or, in a pinch, a lightweight blanket. These ads are deplorible, trying to build fears to create demand where none need exist. Like trying to sell water wings to a fish by talking about the dangers of 'fin fatigue'!

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  18. I have no problem with BFing in public. I was doing it at the beach down the road this arvo and most of the swimmers had more on display than me! Baby marketing is a HUGE industry. The things you are told you MUST have are ridiculous. All a baby needs is you and a safe place to live!

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