Traditionally persuaded into accepting over-sized teddy bears, garish balloons or unwanted flowers; mothers who have recently given birth have often been seen as a soft sales target. However there is growing evidence that they have also been pressured into fad diets, short hair cuts and bogus wedding proposals.
82% of mothers who responded to an online questionnaire expressed serious concerns that promotions firm Bounty had encouraged new Mums into accepting free samples or providing personal details. This criticism has not stopped other agencies from offering discounted rates on “a good night’s sleep”, “more sympathetic in-laws” and “birthing-partners with less humiliating anecdotes.”
NHS chiefs were quick to dismiss claims that by exploring closer links with the private sector, they were deliberately exposing their most vulnerable patients to aggressive advertising and sales. “If anything, we are hoping to extend this to include mothers in labor” said one Executive. “Our research suggests that just as the contractions kick in, these mothers are at their most receptive to offers of Cheap Pain Relief from Canadian Pharmacies, Holidays to Disney World or opportunities to help Nigerians with their lottery winnings.”
While clearly a rich revenue stream, one Marketing Director explained that not every product sold as well with Mums: “Yes - paranoid, middle-class parents will always buy useless baby paraphernalia or pay for a reservation at the local church primary school. However, it is not a logical market,” he complained. “Interest in online gambling and dating varies greatly depending on how attentive the partner was during the birth. Strangely enough new Mums are our least successful demographic for bikinis, breast and penis enlargements. While some businesses like Oddbins say their sales increase significantly with no help from advertising at all!”
A recent Department of Health booklet gives this advice to parents:"Birth is a magical experience. So, while you bask in the glow of having created new life, why not consider naming your child Google or Ryanair for 10% off your insurance costs? (The registry of all births is now handled by Facebook) If you want your child’s tongue-tie removed, don’t forget to download the appropriate Apple App. And don’t forget, you can buy back your baby from the postnatal ward with six easy payments.”
Earlier this month BUPA was forced to withdraw advertising aimed at the terminally ill, that featured the “well of eternal youth”. Despite legitimate fears that mothers could fall prey to similar scams, one Midwife assured reporters: “Even through the oxytocin- endorphin-pethidine fog most women are still unlikely to vote UKIP, endorse Michael Gove or laugh at anything written by Ben Elton.”