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Breastfeeding Ad Campaign

By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Advertising is a powerful tool. Propaganda can shape the societal norm very easily by using national ad campaigns. If you don’t believe me, just finish this sentence, “Never, Never……..?. A national ad campaign to promote breastfeeding is causing quite a stir in the news today. I saw it this morning on the TODAY show. A set of new commercials are scheduled to run that show pregnant women engaging in risky behavior like riding a mechanical bull and getting bucked off. Another has two pregnant women log rolling with one being flung into the water. It is obviously playing on the ridiculous. Paraphrased campaign says something like you wouldn•t put your baby at risk while pregnant, so why would you put them at risk by not breastfeeding. Followed by a statement "Babies are Born to Breastfeed." It then lists the benefits of breastfeeding including the fact that it prevents diseases such as diabetes. Apparently, these commercials have found opposition from formula manufacturers because they believe they are too negative and will hurt their business. Here is one they especially opposed: milkad.jpg NBC compared the debate to that of the tobacco companies opposition to public service announcements denouncing smoking. They also said that these types of campaigns would negatively affect women because those who choose to formula feed will be frowned upon by society furthering the guilt they already feel about their choice not to breastfeed. The other side said the commercials will help women choose to breastfeed making it more acceptable in society. They hoped women would not be criticized for breastfeeding in public and workplaces and other businesses would provide women with places to pump or breastfeed. A Google search will bring thousands of sites discussing this ad campaign. The Early Show has featured the debate. This is one HOT topic at the moment. 20/20 featured the ad debate last weekend and most major news stations have had featured segment. These ads haven’t even run yet. I assume for formula makers, this is a PR nightmare. But I do see the relevant comparison to tobacco companies. Ads like this will hurt their business, but is their business more important than the health of our nation’s children? Will we pay or are we paying now for choices made by mother’s choosing not to breastfeed with the added healthcare costs accrued as these children become adults? Is the generation of formula fed babies (myself being one of them) adding to the rising (out-of-control) healthcare costs? I wonder if formula companies are frightened of lawsuits from disease ridden people who could blame formula made them diabetic. Seems far fetched, but maybe not. Trends in childcare change all the time. What was done last decade is WAY wrong in this decade. This debate isn’t likely to be resolved by public service announcements, but does that mean they shouldn’t be run? Thoughts anyone?