Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Shame on the Warriors rugby team!

I generally do not take much notice of what's going on with rugby league because I am more a union girl - go The Highlanders!! However, news about the latest sponsorship deal that The Warriors have recently negotiated has got my dander up.

Earlier this week, The Warriors - the biggest New Zealand rugby league team - announced they have struck a sponsorship deal with the Chinese-owned New Zealand formula milk company, Fernbaby. This deal includes the Junior Warriors wearing the company's logo on its shorts next year, with The Warriors wearing the logo on their shorts 2014-2015. This news not only has implications for New Zealand, but also Australia, because obviously The Warriors spend a lot of time playing in Australia.

There are several reasons why I am concerned about this move.

Firstly, this marketing move contravenes the World Health Organization International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. Many countries have enacted the Code into legislation, but as far as I can tell (and I'd love to be put right if I've got this wrong) the New Zealand and Australian governments support the Code but have not integrated it into legislation.

Secondly, by endorsing Fernbaby, The Warriors will be encouraging its fans to use formula feed. Keeping in mind that many of the fans of the Warriors come from communities who need to be encouraged to breast feed for as long as possible as a means to reduce health problems such as diabetics, obesity, asthma and SIDS, this is hugely problematic.

I am not the only person concerned - the Infant Nutrition Council has stated that this move clearly contravenes voluntary as well as regulatory marketing codes. The snag is that Fernbaby is not a member of the INC, so I would imagine the company isn't terribly worried about adhering to any voluntary  codes.

What really annoyed me was the arrogant attitude of The Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah who said he wasn't concerned about "how breast-feeding advocates and the general public might react to the Fernbaby sponsorship."

Well, I disagree! I think he should be very concerned. If he wants to attract more women and families to games, then he's going the wrong way about it. And, as for The Warriors being supportive of the community,'s clear they do not give two hoots about the community. All they are interested in is making money, and not promoting a "breast is best" message, which would be far more beneficial for their fans...let alone the poor people they will be targeting in Asian countries, where both Fernbaby and The Warriors want to increase their market. 

I am thinking about what I, and the rest of the midwifery community in New Zealand and Australia, can do to lobby against these sorts of cynical marketing ploys, and put pressure on The Warriors to think again about this sponsorship deal. Any ideas?

Image: 'Skyline'
Found on

No comments: