Eu – not – my – mom

by Dawn Farmer

In a June 1st, 2003 article by Catherine O’Mahony, published by The Sunday Business Post Online, Joey Mason, founder and managing director of Eumom is quoted as saying,

“This is really going to make us a player. For advertisers, we want to get higher quality interaction with the women they are targeting. We want them to be able to choose when and how they speak to their target customers.” He further says, “We know we are a new kid on the block and that we need to prove ourselves.” (emphasis added)

Where will Mr. Mason’s firm be a player? In 2003 Eumom was awarded a three year contract worth at least €2.4 million to provide promotional materials to Dublin’s three maternity hospitals. Eumom replaced the 25 year veteran Bounty Euro RSCG.

Speed ahead to February 2, 2009 when Michael Brennan of The Independent reports that the largest maternity hospital in Dublin now allows marketing representative from Eumom access to the maternity ward. Coombe Women’s Hospital has entered into a financial agreement that accepts a per-child fee for every mother and child signed up by Eumom’s marketing representatives. The actual figure is in dispute, but the total fees collected by Coombe Women’s Hospital could be €245,000 during 2003-2008 based on the average 7,500 births per year at the hospital.

Is this clever marketing, creative financing or a horrible violation of trust?

Let’s look at Eumom’s own words and practices. The Independent also provided a story outlining the guidelines for conversations with new mothers. Never mind the overall layer of sleaze associated with the disingenuous comments like “oh look at all this pink – it must be a girl…” look at the last dot:

V important to reassure mom that: a) Eumom is custodian of her details; b) Eumom uses it in collaboration with partner companies; c) Eumom’s collection and usage of data complies with data protection office guidelines.

Should the Mom still say NO – one final question: Do you have private health insurance? If so, VHI/Quinn/Hibernian? If asked why we need to know — we are conducting a survey. (emphasis added)

Survey, I bet. Whose next at those hospital room visits…

So with hospital maternity stays in most of the west as short as 12 to 24 hours, why would any woman want to spend any of that time answering your marketing questions? As a curious exercise I asked some women I know to respond to this policy. Comments included the words: abhorrent, invasion of privacy, pissed off, crosses the line and gross. One woman speculated on the effect to hospital security by having non-family members present in the maternity ward. I’m guessing these aren’t the answers Eumom or Coombe Women’s Hospital would hope for in a focus group.

Having a child myself I can attest to the value of information from reliable suppliers. There is a time and a place. Give me that bag of information after the Lamaze class and I’ll welcome it.

Talk to me after labor and childbirth and I’ll remember you for all the reasons you don’t want… and I have a very long memory.

5 replies »

  1. It sounds like a horrible violation of privacy and trust on the part of the hospital.
    Of course, since it’s only women involved, I doubt it’ll create much outrage.
    If it were men being pestered while they still had a catheter in or were just being wheeled out of a lower GI, I imagine people would be furious about it. Actually I bet the hospital wouldn’t even dare to try it.

  2. JThompson – the childbirth process is a very vulnerable one – you check your knickers at the front door and find yourself exposed in a physical, spiritual and mental sense. It is especially hard to fathom that the hospital has traded away your protection for six euros.

    Male or female – a vulnerable population deserves better.

    Thank you for your thoughts.

  3. This is a horrible invasion of privacy. They’re so strict on the ward (no children who aren’t family members, only certain times for visiting, no sitting on the beds…), and they allow these people in!?

    I understand that it’s hard to get money to do things, esp these days. But when a maternity hosp has to resort to making cash from marketing execs, you wonder where your money is going.

    I’ve had both my sons in Dublin’s National Maternity Hospital, and I don’t remember the reps coming through. It might be because I was in the private room (there’s only about 12 in this wing, most of the other rooms are at least a 4 bed ward). Maybe they avoid the people who are paying for their room?

  4. Elana – thank you for offering your experiences in Dublin’s National Maternity Hospital. It would add an awful layer to the story to find this practice targeting by economic status.

    Elaine – you bet! Long memories… 🙂