Friday, August 27, 2010

Marketing Breastfeeding: Your Ideas

New Spanish breastfeeding campaign
from the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition.
Support them!

We've heard from a lot of readers this week about what they think the "breastfeeding essentials" are, and we've seen quite a few comments about how breastfeeding organization should not market breastfeeding.

What we want to hear about are your ideas to market breastfeeding to the masses.

Do you have an advertising idea that reinforces one of the positive aspects of breastfeeding?

How would you give breastfeeding a makeover so that women view it as glamorous, sexy, essential? Or fill in your adjective - what attributes do you think we can emphasize to make breastfeeding more acceptable, appealing, desirable to more women?

You don't have to have a degree in marketing to come up with a catchy campaign. One ordinary father recently revealed his advertising prowess when he came up with a new slogan for the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition's Spanish breastfeeding campaign (pictured in this post).

So let's hear it: give us your ideas for advertisement. Think about magazine ads, television commercials, YouTube videos, pictures splashed across billboards or buses, signs to put up in doctors' offices, flyers to put in hospital take-home bags. Who knows, your idea could be the next big ad campaign!


My initial question is this: why should breastfeeding be glamorous or sexy? Because more women might breastfeed if it was trendy? That's a noble goal, but I can't help but feel that the tactics are off if glamor and sex appeal are the tools we use to get there. The emphasis on "sexy" is, in my opinion, one of the main things that makes people so uncomfortable with breastfeeding in the first place; they're used to seeing breasts (their own or someone else's) as sex objects, and the dissonance of having a little baby get milk from those sex objects is a bit too much for them to handle.

If breastfeeding is appreciated because it's trendy, then that appreciation will be as fleeting as trends typically are. If breastfeeding is appreciated because it's natural and nourishing, then that appreciation is here to stay.

How about this: what if breastfeeding is seen as POWERFUL? My church has a new ad campaign going on that's gotten some attention (see it at for examples). The basic idea is that churchgoers from around the world are interviewed/photographed, and their interviews are made into YouTube videos, online ads, etc., that say something like, "I'm Margaret. I'm a welder, a volunteer, and a bingo enthusiast. I'm a Mormon." I could see something like that being awesome for a breastfeeding campaign! Interview different families, find out what their lifestyles are like, then show that breastfeeding works for them in that unique lifestyle. "I'm Lydia. I'm a marriage therapist, an aspiring novelist, and a Little League coach. I'm a breastfeeding mom."

Good point, Sara! I picked up the glamorous/sexy language from Bfb (I think) - but it doesn't have to be! I love the idea of powerful. Your idea is excellent!!

How about breastfeeding is NORMAL. I don't necessarily think words are necessary. People just need to be comfortable with the idea. I think just showing photos of a breastfeeding mother/child might be more effective. I think a photo without words would draw attention, it wouldn't use guilt-invoking language like "breast is best" (tell that to a mom who tried to breastfeed and it didn't work out - feeding your baby is best!), and it would get the image would be in people's minds that moms can and do feed babies with thier breasts.

I almost think something like "Breastfeeding...Imagine the Possiblities" could be good. I think a lot of women are scared/worried about the perceived difficulty/pain/embarrasment that could result, or that they might be one of the ones that actually can't produce enough milk, or that for some other reason they will "fail." Because of modern child spacing and families living far apart, most people I know haven't spent much time around a breastfeeding mom when they become one themselves and really have no idea what they are getting into. Photos like Holly suggested could be great, and I'd love to see not just newborns snuggling mamas, but also moms at computers pumping, moms with squirmy toddlers at the park, moms with twins, etc.

Fabulous ideas! I'd like to see all kinds of nursing mamas in an ad campaign... not just the "crunchy" mamas. I feel like there's a type associated with breastfeeding. How wonderful would it be to see pictures of a mother nursing in a business suit, or fast food uniform, or military uniform! Or nursing in a house of worship, or in a cafe!

Yes, I think it is important to show that ALL kinds of moms breastfeed babies. Young moms, older moms, moms of color, single moms. Moms who work and pump. Moms who work and nurse. Athletic moms, crafty moms, tough moms and fluffy moms. Moms of many, and moms of one.

How about "There isn't just one kind of mom who breastfeeds."

I want to see nursing clothes made for us moms who continue to nurse!! Most nursing clothes are still maternity-like, as if they are made only for a few months after your baby is born. I have been nursing for the last 14 months and I am back down to well below my pre-pregnancy size, and I'd like to show that off while still having an easy shirt to nurse in!

I think TV commercials just with nice music and snuggly shots of mom and family w/baby nursing. My 2-year old was wrapping her arms around me in a big, long hug just this morning while I was on the couch nursing her. And just yesterday she was taking a nap with my husband and I in bed, between us while he and I held hands and he kissed her head. People should see these types of things more often.

Re-posting my idea from facebook:

Breastfeeding is GREEN! For some reason in this age of eco-consciousness, where hybrid vehicles & local/organic produce is trendy, you don't see anyone touting how bfing reduces your carbon footprint. Breastfeeding is a fantastic thing we can do for the environment!!!

I see a tree with "breastfeeding" on the trunk & branching out is "no formula" & "healthier babies". From no formula branches are "no packaging" & "no producing" from those you go to saving energy (even all the way to the electrical plant), you go to no transporting & saving gas, no landfill contribution, you could keep branching out more & more. With healthier babies you could go to less trips to doc (less fuel), less medication for illnesses prevented/reduced by bfing, less energy producing those meds, etc.

Or maybe a pair of green boobs, hahahaha!!!

Anyhow, those are my thoughts. :)

I agree with the breastfeeding is normal concept. Show regular women (crunchy women, career women, overweight women, thin women, different races and religions, socioeconomic backgrounds, etc.) all nursing their babies in places we all go (schools, churches, airports, trains, restaurants, malls, parks, etc.)! Let's show women that nursing is normal!

Honestly, the thing that changed my mind from "I want to try to breastfeed, but am not that invested in it," to "I'm going to breastfeed this baby as hard as I can!" was learning how drastically it reduced the rates of SIDS. It didn't take me long to get invested in the act of breastfeeding itself, but it was the determination that got me through the rough patches.

I've only heard this mentioned ONCE in the "marketing" of breastfeeding, and it was during a breastfeeding seminar that I almost didn't go to.

I'm not saying we should scare them with, "Formula will kill your baby," because I disagree with the sentiment. But just telling a new mother that it can prevent her greatest fear? I can see that turning some heads and changing some ideas.

I agree that we've got to normalize breast feeding. We live in the age of celebrity and TV. We need to use this. In the UK I think if we showed women breast feeding on the soaps it would influence a lot of women. If children saw breast feeding from a young age then it would be the natural choice. I also think if celebrities came out in support it would influence a lot of people.

I like the "powerful" thing. "Sexy" is way off! How about "I grew him, I feed him, he's mine...not some other cow's" ;)

Bit of humour goes a long way, imo and ime.

I agree with the "powerful" image--and showing moms in lots of different settings. I wanted to mention, though--I think we really need to show more dads *with* breastfeeding moms, show the closeness of the couple with their baby, show fathers bonding with their babies even while mom is breastfeeding. This is a big issue for my husband--so many attachment-based and breastfeeding organizations barely mention dads, when fathers are *such* an important part of breastfeeding success and such an important part of their children's lives. I think we need more family pictures--a couple in Paris, walking down the street with mom nursing while she walks; parents at home together; parents in the mall with the mom nursing and dad's arm around her. We also need moms and babies alone, I agree, but I think we could do so much more if we actively acknowledge (and celebrate) the role fathers play.

You need an image of about 4 or 5 woman looking straight at the camera, all dressed differently to show how different they are. They are all nursing with a slight smile on their faces. Not too smiley, not to serene, not stoic. Quietly pleased. One line: No Biggie.

I'm coming late to this one, but here's what I think: we don't need to come up with our own marketing tactics, we already have a hugely successful blueprint to copy. I think we should just piggyback everything the artificial feeding industry does.

- bombard health professionals with pens, posters, notepads, exam table paper, all displaying the breastfeeding symbol, or pics of nursing moms

- fill hospitals with free nursing bras and pads to give out, as well as coupons for other nursing products

- partner with a maternity wear chain so that when women unwittingly give their addresses they receive nursing pads and info packs in the mail instead of formula samples

- set up a national nursing support hotline, like the sham versions from Similac, but staffed with IBCLCs

It's a strategy that has worked before - McDonalds spends millions researching the best spots for its restaurants, and Wendy's (not sure if you have it in the US?) just opens up shop across the street. Presto.

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