Hot 89.9 criticized for fertility treatment contest


“Win a baby!” Is what Newcap Radio’s CIHT-FM Ottawa is offering up to listeners—a contest to win fertility treatment. Yellow posters advertising the competition feature a baby holding a sign reading ‘Win me!’ and another reads ‘Are you my Mommy?’ But the station is being criticized by fertility groups after launching the competition.

Why? Fertility experts have branded it as tacky. Beverly Hanck, executive director of the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada, told the UK Guardian the competition was tacky and distasteful: “The station is clearly capitalizing on vulnerable patients who are desperate to have a family. Has anyone stopped to think how the hundreds of patients who do not win are going to feel?”

Toronto fertility counselor Jan Silverman said she objected to “commoditization of babies, turning babies into products.”

Hot 89.9 has defended it, saying it is trying to do a good thing for a family which can’t conceive. Applicants also supported the competition with one describing it as an ‘excellent idea’. Fertility treatment is not publicly funded in Ontario.

Meanwhile, 400 people, including same sex couples, single women and cancer patients, entered the competition and they have now been whittled down to five finalists. Each couple must convince listeners and judges, who include fertility experts, why they should win. The station’s website profiles 100 words on each of the finalists explaining why they think they should receive the treatment.

From the website:
Out of respect for our Top 5 Finalists we have decided not to publically identify them.  For that reason we are referring to them as Couple A through E. 
Voting will conclude at 11:59pm on Sunday, October 9th.  The Win A Baby winning couple will be announced at 7:15am on Tuesday, October 11th, 2011 during The Morning Hot Tub with Mauler, Rush, Jenni and Josie.
Here’s a little bit about the Top 5 Win A Baby finalists:

“Couple A” have been married for 5 years. In describing their relationship they say they couldn’t imagine a moment in this world, or any other, without each other. It hasn’t been an easy year for this couple, they’ve suffered through a car accident, a lay-off and of course their ongoing fertility struggles. They have been trying relentlessly to conceive. In their words, “Well they say practice makes perfect… We disagree because if “practice” made “perfect” we would have many a baby.” “Couple A” have been told that their best and probably only chance of conceiving would be through IVF. They have already been advised that including the drugs the total procedure would be about $10,000. “Couple A” says, “We would try the procedure tomorrow if we had the money, but we don’t so we have to wait.” When they got engaged they immediately envisioned their family with children. From day one it’s what they wanted and they’re hoping this is it for them.

“Couple B” says before this contest they were feeling hopeless, like they had reached a dead end. After trying every method available to them to conceive they have been told that their only chance for success is IVF, but unfortunately they cannot afford the treatment. “Couple B” says they are most proud of the love they have for each other and their family. When asked why they want a baby “Couple B” says, “We don’t know how to put in words, how much we want a baby. Every effort, every hope, every disappointment we have felt in the past 4.5 years has been because this dream of ours isn’t coming true. I feel like I have lost part of my heart. We feel stuck in limbo, life is moving on without us while others live our dream. I feel tired because my energy goes into hoping that every month will be “it”, but it never is. We feel as though the only light at the end of this dark tunnel would be if we could somehow afford the treatment to make our dream come true. That in itself would be a dream.”

“Couple C” love each other more than life and all struggles they’ve endured have only made them closer. The bottom line for “Couple C” is that they cannot afford fertility treatments. They are not a materialistic couple, they don’t care about “stuff” they just want a family, they want to watch their children grow and teach them the values of life. They live very healthy lifestyles in an attempt to increase their chances of conceiving. They quit smoking over two years ago, they eat healthy, they take vitamins, none of it is working for them. They’ve wanted this very badly for a long time, but it’s not happening naturally. They need assistance. The hopeful mother to be says she wants the opportunity to be as supportive a mother as her mom has been to her all her life.

“Couple D” have known each other since they were kids. They truly believe that their love is not the kind that comes along every day. They are best friends and fantastic partners. Due to a malformation of his reproductive organs at birth the male half of “Couple D” was told from the time he was young that he would not be able to have children. In March 2009, “Couple D’s” doctor sent **** for a semen analysis at their request so that they could be certain that they had explored every possibility and could make an informed decision when discussing their options.  On Easter weekend, they received a call with amazing news! Their doctor was ecstatic and very surprised to tell them that ***** produced 4 million sperms per ml and that in the sample he provided, there was 2.5 ml. They still remember the moment they heard those words! His whole life, he had been told that he would never be able to have biological children, and now, he could!  It was a very emotional discovery for “Couple D”. Now they know they can have children, they just need a little help from the scientific advances in the medical field! “Couple D” say they were born to be parents and can hardly wait to hold their very own baby for the first time and start their journey as parents.

Despite the challenges they’ve faced, “Couple E” gives their relationship a 10 out of 10. They are best friends and have grown very quickly together over the past 4 years. In January of 2007 the male half of “Couple E” was in a car accident that broke his neck resulting in quadriplegia. As a quadriplegic *** the quality of his sperm has diminished over time. “Couple E” have already received fertility treatments, but had to suspend treatment before they were able to conceive due to financial restraints. “Couple E” describe themselves as an unstoppable couple that will never give up on their hopes and dreams.  They have been through the worst and have flourished with love and support from their families and friends. They want nothing more now than to welcome a baby into their lives. They are ready to be amazing parents and share their love with a child.

The winner will be announced on the station’s breakfast show next week.

RBR-TVBR observation: This is one instance where we just can’t see any problems arising from a great idea for a contest. The identities of the contestants are not being revealed; they are all well-deserving; and the fertility center that will get the job isn’t even doing any co-branded advertising with the contest—at least yet. Maybe the ad creative is a little tacky, but this is about the least commoditizing way a station could do such a contest.