13 June 2000

The Vietnamese government has drafted legislation barring the advertising of all breast milk substitutes for infants younger than six months. The move is part of a drive to reduce infant malnutrition and promote breast-feeding among young mothers. The ban will also include ads for feeding bottles and related products for infants aged six months to two years.

Nor may promoters of substitutes claim that their products are equal to or better than breast milk; and distribution of product samples to parents, health agencies and officials will also be banned.

The move has displeased milk producers and advertisers, who claim it contravenes World Health Organization international guidelines on the advertising of breast milk substitutes. Says Hong Anh, of J. Walter Thompson, Ho Chi Minh City: "While we agree that breast milk is best for young babies, we believe that milk producers should still be able to advertise their products, especially as some mothers are unable to breast- feed."

One of JWT’s biggest local clients is Vietnam Foremost Dairy, a $29 million Dutch joint venture producing powdered and sweetened condensed milk.

News source: Advertising Age - International Daily