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LETTERS TO LLLI:
Advertising and Exhibits Policies

From: LEAVEN, Vol. 35 No. 2, April-May 1999, pp. 40-41

Dear LLLI,

Over the years, La Leche League, like many of us, has experienced financial challenges. As part of the answer to the financial needs of LLLI, more advertising is being accepted for publications such as LEAVEN, NEW BEGINNINGS and Area Conference program booklets. Certainly, the revenue generated by these advertisements is a much needed source of income. At times, however, it seems as though some of the ads conflict with LLLI policy.

For example, I question ads that list a Leader as the owner of a business. Can Leader credentials be used in ads or conference exhibit materials for non-LLL products?

Also, how much latitude does an Area have in saying "no" to ads or exhibits they feel do not meet the needs or interests of local mothers? For example, an ad that we felt was not appropriate was submitted for our Area Conference. Because similar ads had been published in NEW BEGINNINGS we felt obligated to accept it despite our misgivings.

Although I understand the need for advertising to subsidize the cost of our programs and services, I wonder whether we're moving too quickly. Could the Board of Directors please clarify these policies?

Anne Easterday
Omaha, Nebraska, USA

Dear Anne,

Many thanks for initiating this discussion and providing an opportunity to expand understanding of LLLI Advertising and Exhibit Guidelines and how these are related to other LLLI policies.

Can Leaders list their Leader credentials on advertisements or conference exhibit materials for non-LLL related products?

An advertisement or exhibit is not accepted or rejected for an LLLI publication or event simply because the advertiser or exhibitor is an LLL Leader. The determination of whether or not an advertisement or exhibit falls within LLLI Guidelines is made independently. Once that decision is made, it might be acceptable that the ad or exhibit mention that a Leader is involved. People might decide to support the business of a Leader or member of the LLL community over another business.

LLLI does not have a blanket policy to prohibit Leaders from using their credentials as a point of information in an advertisement or on an exhibit. The Mixing Causes Statement from the Cooperative Action Guidelines for Leaders states:

Leaders may not use their Leader status for commercial gain derived from non-LLL activity or to promote their personal non-LLL interests.

This policy was not intended to imply that a Leader must avoid any mention of her Leader status in connection with an outside business.

When an advertisement mentions a Leader's credentials, special care must be taken that the advertisement is designed to avoid any appearance of an endorsement by LLLI. It is specifically stated at the beginning of LLLI publications that acceptance of paid advertisements does not constitute LLLI endorsement of the products advertised.

Regardless of disclaimers, some readers assume a degree of LLLI endorsement for products advertised in LLLI publications. This is a difficult impression to overcome. LLLI negotiates this situation with disclaimers and by applying guidelines for some assurance that products advertised do not conflict with the purpose of LLLI.

What about the use of the LLL name-Leader or member-as part of an ad in another publication?

A Leader or member may also wish to mention her association with LLL in an advertisement in a non-LLL publication. In this situation, LLLI does not have any control over the presentation in the advertisement. It could be misunderstood that the product advertised carries some sort of LLL endorsement. The policy on Sponsorship Endorsement, Authorization or Approval by LLLI states that:

The [LLLI] Board of Directors shall be the sole and exclusive authority to permit any act that expresses or implies sponsorship, endorsement, authorization or approval by LLLI of any person, service or item.

It follows that, in order to be in accord with LLLI policy, an advertisement mentioning Leader credentials, even LLL membership, must be very clear to also mention that it is not an LLLI endorsement of the product. Sometimes it is just a matter of reformatting an ad to avoid any confusion.

The bottom line is that mentioning a relationship to LLL as part of an advertisement is not prohibited by LLLI policies, but these policies do put restrictions on how LLL and LLLI are mentioned, including trademark protection of the name and logo.

How much latitude does an Area have in saying "no" to ads and exhibits?

An Area is under no obligation to accept an ad or exhibit just because the ad or exhibit meets LLLI guidelines. Fitting within the guidelines only determines whether the Area has the option to accept an ad or exhibit. This right of refusal is stated in the LLLI guidelines that are shared with prospective advertisers and exhibitors. Common sense and good public relations dictate that Areas use this privilege to say "no" with due consideration. It is not to be taken lightly.

The Board of Directors anticipated that some advertisements and exhibits might fit the guidelines and be accepted by LLLI but not be appropriate in a particular Area or at a particular event in that Area. There are many good reasons to say "no," when the guidelines are met.

  • Perspectives can differ according to local custom and culture. For example what may be considered a food in one part of the world may be viewed as medication elsewhere.
  • An Area might be developing a theme for exhibits at a conference or be working toward balancing the mix of exhibits.
  • It is possible to run out of room - in publication or in an exhibit hall.
  • There may have been substantial negative reaction to an exhibit in past years. Without cutting off the exhibitor completely, it is possible to take a rest from the issue for a year and reevaluate in the future.

If an Area does not want to accept a particular ad or exhibit, the Area can just say "no." However, when the ad or exhibit does meet LLLI guidelines, the Area cannot use the guidelines as the reason for declining the ad or exhibit. In this situation, the Area must take responsibility for saying "no" to the advertiser or exhibitor. This should be done in a professional and graceful way that does not preclude other relationships with LLL.

Leaders who are concerned about particular advertisements in LLLI publications can contact LLLI staff members directly (see box). LLLI Executive Director Paulina Smith assures that concerns about advertising and exhibits are periodically reviewed by the LLLI Board of Directors.

The advantages of advertising and exhibits extend beyond subsidizing costs of publications and conferences.

Ads and exhibits can enhance publications and conferences by providing specific information that might be of interest to the LLL community. They can provide some perspective on how breastfeeding fits into society. The very act of selling advertising and recruiting exhibitors brings LLL and our work to the attention of a broader audience.

Imagine LLLI publications with no advertisements for baby products, nursing fashions or breast pumps. Many parents use ads for reference points and to extend their understanding of the new world they have just entered.

  • What does a breast pump look like and why might I want one?
  • I need ideas for what to wear in my sister's wedding. I'll be carrying my two-month-old baby down the aisle in a sling; she might need to nurse during the ceremony.
  • I like to shop for clothes for myself and my baby through the mail instead of spending our time in stores.
  • I've been wondering about using a different type of diaper, but am unable to find any locally.
  • I'm looking for a nursing bra and find a very limited selection in the stores near me.

For Leaders, advertisements in LLLI publications can provide an impromptu visual aid to illustrate a response to a question about a baby carrier or a breast pump.

Admittedly, these are not black and white issues. As Leaders we look at similar situations and apply the same guidelines, but due to our different perspectives we come up with different answers. These differences are the very factors that allow a diverse group of Leaders to help many mothers in different circumstances around the world. We have come to recognize that these inconsistencies are not signs of our individual weaknesses, but of our collective strength.

Sincerely,
Ginger Sall
LLLI Board of Directors
Cary, North Carolina, USA

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