This post was originally published on Dou-la-la on 9/4/2010. We’re so glad she’s allowed us to share it here, too!
INT: STERLING COOPER DRAPER PRYCE, DON DRAPER’s OFFICE. PEGGY OLSON and PETE CAMPBELL sit expectantly on the sofa, an easel bearing the Simfamil logo and a photo of a smiling baby next to them. A box with canisters of various brands of formula is on the floor.
Enter a typically taciturn DON. He glances at the easel and continues to the liquor cabinet without breaking stride, pours himself a scotch, then turns his attention to the pair on the sofa. DON remains standing.
I’m not sure why this took 2 weeks. This should have come easily to you, Peggy.
PEGGYWell, I’ve bee-DON
Just tell me what you have.PEGGY
(takes a moment to square her shoulders, then continues)
This has been trickier than you might think. We’ve been reviewing the latest improvements by Simfamil as well as the improvements to formula made by competing brands and –DON
Competing brands don’t matter.PETE
What? What do you mean?DON
The other brands aren’t the problem we have to worry about. That part’s easy.PETE
Listen Don, I’ve worked long and hard to get us this account. Simfamil is not going to want to hear that Enfilac isn’t a threat that we take seriously. The market data shows that coupons and sampl-DON
Enfilac, Simfamil, Nestle, their strategies have all been the same. Look at this.
(He grabs a one canister after another out of the box, reading their labels aloud, then tossing them aside.)
“More like mother’s milk”. “The closest thing to mother’s milk.” “Now with more of the same ingredients found in breast milk”. They’re all vying to make their product more like breast milk than any other brand. What’s the problem with that, Peggy?PEGGY
Well, because there’s just no comparison with breast milk. We’ve looked at all the research, and the brand never matters. Formula just can’t measure up, no matter what brand. So . . . (she gestures at the discarded canisters) . . . how do we set Simfamil apart from them?PETE
A new package design? Some prettier, younger models as the mothers?DON
We take on breastfeeding itself.PEGGY
But you just sai . . . didn’t we just say there’s no comparison to breastmilk?DON
There isn’t. Formula can’t compete with breast milk. We can’t fight the research and mothers know this. Almost every mother in America wants to breastfeed. There’s no suppressing the truth. Women know that breastfeeding is best. So we’re not going to argue with that.
PEGGY and PETE look at each other silently. DON tosses back the rest of his drink and pours another.
I give up. You don’t want to promote the new ingredients of Simfamil. Are you saying we should try to find research that makes it look like formula is better?PETE
We’ve tried. It doesn’t exist. (PEGGY nods.)PEGGY
So what do we do?DON
We promote breastfeeding.PETE
(He goes to the liquor cabinet and pours himself his own drink, gesticulating)
I can’t believe you’re not taking this seriously. This account is one of the biggest we’ve ever had a shot at! With everything I’ve gone through with my father-in-law and losing the –DON
PEGGY looks incredulous, then seems to start thinking. DON walks over to the easel and rips down the poster with the logo and baby on it, and writes “Breast is best” on the blank sheet underneath.
The research says so, doctors say so, there’s no arguing it. And if we attack breastfeeding itself, it backfires, because the facts are the facts, and that makes us not only the bad guys, but liars too. What does the word “Best” imply?
PEGGY listens intently, then starts to write.
Best. Perfect. Ideal. They all have one thing in common. They’re impossible. Unattainable. There is no such thing.PEGGY
Women may dream of being perfect mothers, but they know it’s just a dream. So if breastfeeding is perfect, we need to give them permission to be imperfect. Not just permission, but encourage them to be imperfect.DON
Exactly. So how do we get them from understanding that breast is best to buying formula?PEGGY
We hire our own experts.PETE
AHA! Actors pretending to be breastfeeding experts who will say that formula is better! I get it.PEGGY
No, no, not at all. We hire real experts. And we set up our own hotlines for women to call when things go wrong, and promote those hotlines. And we sponsor information that’s given out by doctors themselves, too.
DON lights a Chesterfield. A confused PETE shakes his head and shrugs helplessly, sitting back on the couch.
And we make up pamphlets and other resources that look like they’re designed to help moms with all the problems that mothers are likely to encounter, emphasizing how many things can go wrong. We focus the whole campaign on helping women navigate the terrible, perilous, grim experience that breastfeeding is likely to be. We mention every single thing we can think of: Sleep deprivation, slow weight gain, cracked and bloody nipples, [PETE winces] how hard it is to nurse in public and how hard it is to have to stay home instead, and on and on. We’re the good guys, we’re just trying to help – it’s not our fault that breastfeeding is so difficult and unpleasant. We look altruistic and supportive – we’re not trying to get women not to breastfeed, we’re just here to support them in case it doesn’t work out.PETE
(lightbulb finally going off, however dimly)
And then we make sure it doesn’t work out. What about that part of it?DON
The information we give. Do we give out accurate information?PEGGY
Some of it is, and some of it isn’t. Little things that undermine breastfeeding, subtle things, things that will jeopardize her supply. Like telling her to never nurse a newborn more than 15 minutes at a time, for example. and saying that frequent feedings for a newborn are 3 to 4 hours apart. The mom will be lucky if her supply ever comes in at all, and when it doesn’t, she’ll just think something was wrong with her. Because she’s not perfect – and that’s okay.DON
And then we swoop in to save the day.
The three look satisfied. PETE and PEGGY stand.
Come up with a new slogan by the time we meet with Simfamil tomorrow.PEGGY
I’ll have it by the end of the day, actually.(She exits. PETE follows behind.)PETE
(turning back for a last word, hand on the doorknob)
Bert Cooper is going to think you’ve gone off the deep end, you know.DON
He’s thought so before. He always gets used to it.
PETE raises his eyebrows, shakes his head and exits. DON goes behind his desk, puts out his cigarette, and reaches for the phone.
CUT TO: INT: JOAN HOLLOWAY’s office. She picks up the ringing phone.
Yes, Don? . . . Of course I have the best . . . Model them? . . . In your office? Now? . . . You’re lucky I’m such a liberated woman, you know. I’ll have your secretary hold your calls.
ZOOM IN to her cleavage, then FADE to black.
Brought to you by Hadley Stilwell & A Mother’s Boutique!
image credit: free foto