PRESS RELEASE May 22, 2009
Fresh Breastfeeding Ad Campaign Challenges U.S. to Help Moms Beat the “Booby Traps”
Little Silver, NJ (May 20, 2009) – On May 25, the Best for Babes Foundation will launch 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 ad debuts with an exclusive in the June/July issue of Fit Pregnancy. The campaign has been endorsed by Dr. Joan Meek, Chair of the United States Breastfeeding Committee and celebrities Gabrielle Reece and Marilu Henner.
Best for Babes Co-Founders 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 DHHS/Ad Council 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% of new moms achieve their personal breastfeeding goals, and only 12% 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. “All moms deserve better information, and to be coached, cheered on and celebrated, without pressure, judgment or guilt,” says Forbes, who initially did not want to breastfeed. “We are too quick to judge women without respecting their circumstances or the obstacles they face.” “All women should be allowed to make and carry out the best decision for themselves and their families without being sabotaged,” says Rigg, “When we remove the barriers, more moms will be able to reap the lifetime benefits of what can be a uniquely empowering and rewarding experience.”
The first ad in the campaign (see below) highlights both the personal and societal costs to not helping mothers succeed at breastfeeding. “Breastfeeding is a major cost-effective primary health prevention strategy that could save billions on health care expenses for families, employers, and society,” notes Dr. Meek, who is also a pediatrician. Yet less than 3% of U.S. maternity centers are designated “Baby-Friendly Hospitals,” following model practices proven to enhance breastfeeding success. “Physicians aren’t always trained in lactation management or may not refer mothers to lactation specialists–who are frequently not covered by health insurance,” adds Melissa Bartick, MD, Chair of the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition, and a member of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. Employers can be another “booby trap” for nursing moms.
Frank About Women, the nation’s leading marketing-to-women communications firm, donated the six-figure ad campaign because they were captivated by the Best for Babes Foundation’s mainstream, positive vision and the opportunity to use their creative talents to empower women without making them feel guilty. “This was a chance to help millions of moms and contribute to an important cause we are all passionate about,” noted Diane Ridgway-Cross, managing partner at Frank About Women. The campaign is being backed by a growing corporate alliance, including Earth Mama Angel Baby, My Brest Friend and Hotslings, as well as health non-profits and leading breastfeeding groups.
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 non-profits 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 #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. “We are ignoring ‘the cure’ literally right under our noses,” say the Best for Babes founders. “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,” say Forbes and Rigg. “We hope the ad campaign provokes the kind of discussion needed to shift our national priorities, while providing a little levity, too.
The Best for Babes Foundation was established in 2007 to give breastfeeding a makeover by using mainstream marketing and branding to inspire, prepare and empower moms and reveal and remove the barriers that keep moms from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals, despite their best intentions. The Best for Babes Web site, www.bestforbabes.org, offers breastfeeding inspiration, help for moms who don’t want to breastfeed, a ground-breaking checklist for expectant moms, important information about navigating the “booby traps,” as well as opportunities to become involved.
For more information about the ad campaign or Best for Babes:
The Best for Babes Foundation
P.O. Box 454
Little Silver, New Jersey 07739
Here’s the ad: