Similac’s “no-judgment” StrongMoms campaign demonstrates a standard food industry tactic — frame any discussion about, or critique of, your product as confrontational, judgmental, or offensive. This, of course, is nothing more than a silencing tactic.
FYI: Similac is owned by Abbott, an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics sponsor.
As KJ Dell’Antonia writes in today’s New York Times:
“In that climate, Similac’s message sounds benign. Instead, it’s only feeding the fire. The emphasis on “not judging” suggests that it’s impossible to talk about breast-feeding and formula-feeding without judging unless we try really, really hard — and parents, particularly exhausted new parents, don’t have a whole lot of energy left to make that kind of effort. If anything you say to a mother with a baby at the bottle or breast might sound judgmental, far easier to say nothing at all, especially if you were trying to think of a tactful way to offer breast-feeding support or help in a context where that would be appropriate.
There’s no denying that Similac has a financial interest in convincing us that that conversation — the one in which you try to encourage a friend to breast-feed — is just too delicate to have. Sometimes it is. But we’ll be the judge of that, thanks.
And without a pack of brand managers telling us to hush up, lest we be seen as judging, we can talk about what needs to change to ensure that when parents make decisions about how to feed and raise their babies, they really are making a choice.”
A similar tactic is employed by the food industry when its unhealthy offerings are criticized (they often resort to strawman arguments along the lines of “Not everyone can drink local, organic wheatgrass juice”); it’s nothing more than an attempt to shoot the messenger and avoid thoughtful dialogue about unhealthful ingredients, deceptive marketing, or whatever other issue industry wants to avoid.