Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Breastfeeding Campaign Debuts in New Zealand

The Ministry of Health in New Zealand has just launched a new ad campaign to promote breastfeeding and normalize breastfeeding in public. The campaign will consist of posters placed on buses, ads in women’s and parenting magazines, in malls and on screens in warehouse stores. According to the press release, the campaign was created with friends and family of breastfeeding moms in mind, who often can influence whether or not a woman breastfeeds and for how long.

"Although New Zealand has breastfeeding rates that are consistent with other OECD countries, rates are low at six weeks, especially among Māori and Pacific women,” said Ministry of Health Deputy Director Margie Apa. She went on to say that barriers to breastfeeding, including “lack of breastfeeding support and information, mothers returning to paid work and finding it hard to continue breastfeeding, and negative attitudes to breastfeeding from the general public and family members” tend to more adversely affect minorities, teenage parents and low-income moms.

The pictures used in the campaign are absolutely beautiful and props to New Zealand for their concerted effort to include minority women in the ads. What makes these ads so powerful and extraordinary is that they're so mundane. They are simply photographs of women going about their daily lives, breastfeeding in the library, on the bus and at the airport.

The text on the bottom of the ads reads, "Wherever they're heading, a healthy start in life will help them get there. In the community and in the workplace, breastfeeding is natural. Perfectly natural. For information, please visit breastfeeding.org.nz."

The US could learn a lot from this ad campaign. Remember the disastrous campaign created by the Ad Council in 2005? First there were these images:

Dandelions? Ice cream? An ad campaign to promote breastfeeding and not a mom or baby to be found? That was quite the head scratcher. (Not to mention the fact that the formula companies lobbied to get the actual messages on the ads watered down before they even debuted). Then there was this TV ad that many women found downright insulting.

Compare those ads to the ones in New Zealand and you can see how far we have to go in this country. We need to fight those "booby traps" that keep moms from breastfeeding or meeting their breastfeeding goals and focus on making breastfeeding the cultural norm, the natural extension of pregnancy and childbirth. These ads are a huge step in the right direction to help normalize breastfeeding, particularly in public. Anyone in marketing in New Zealand looking for a job?

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