Breastfeeding Ad Campaign Challenges US to Help Moms Succeed
The Best for Babes Foundation is launching a clever and provocative new ad campaign designed to change the public perception of breastfeeding and expose the “booby traps”—the myriad cultural and institutional barriers that keep moms from succeeding. The campaign has been endorsed by Dr. Joan Meek, chair of the United States Breastfeeding Committee and celebrities Gabrielle Reece and Marilu Henner. The campaign is being backed by a growing corporate alliance, including Earth Mama Angel Baby, My Brest Friend, and Hotslings, as well as health nonprofits and leading breastfeeding groups.
Best for Babes cofounders Bettina Forbes and Danielle Rigg were fueled to launch a new ad campaign by their deep dismay that the government’s three-year, $40 million “Babies Were Born to Be Breastfed” awareness campaign was derailed in 2004 under the influence of industry lobbyists. The Department of Health and Human Services and the Ad Council’s breastfeeding ads were diluted (the pro bono ad agency quit in protest); formula advertising almost doubled to $50 million annually; and a valuable study showing the links between breastfeeding and lower rates of disease was suppressed. As a result, breastfeeding rates actually went down.
Forbes and Rigg, who want to spare moms the unnecessary struggles they faced, aim to shift the focus off the breast vs. bottle debate and current backlash against breastfeeding, and on to the real issue: women are being urged to breastfeed, but set up to fail. The CDC recently found that only 40 percent of new moms achieve their personal breastfeeding goals, and only 12 percent reach the minimum six months of exclusive breastfeeding recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Forbes and Rigg invite the media and the public to dig deeper into the reasons why women are throwing in the towel within days or weeks, and stop blaming mothers.
Best for Babes is working to elevate breastfeeding to be “the mother of all causes” on par with all the diseases it helps to protect against. Last year, the American Heart Association raised $640 million, while breastfeeding nonprofits received only a tiny fraction in foundation, corporate, and public funds. “Yet, a recent study shows that breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, the number 1 killer in women,” notes Alison Stuebe, MD, lead author of the study, and an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
“Especially in this economy, we all need to be more strategic. Boosting breastfeeding continuation rates is an incredibly cost-effective way to improve public health, and positively impact education, the economy, and the environment across the board,” Forbes and Rigg add. “We hope the ad campaign provokes the kind of discussion needed to shift our national priorities, while providing a little levity, too.”