That's Not The Way, Baby Dove.
BY JENNIE MOORE
A surefire way to get a new mom (or not-so-new mom, for that matter) passionate is to bring up the subject of breastfeeding. Should you or shouldn’t you? What if you can’t? For how long? Where do you do it? How do you handle it when you go back to work?
Not to mention, breastfeeding is hard. Any mom will tell you that getting a newborn to do such a seemingly natural thing as latch onto the most sensitive part of a boob — that has tripled to Dolly-Parton-ish proportions overnight — with a tiny, ravenous, mouth-clamp in order to, ya know, stay alive, is about as low-stress and pleasant as … there are no analogies. Maybe a piranha gnawing on a testicle?
Point being, unless you have experienced the frustration, the stress, the pain, the leaking, the approval, the disapproval, the side-glances, the stares, the desperate search for privacy, the eventual wonder, joy and blessed oxytocin that makes the whole experience worthwhile, you can’t relate to breastfeeding. And that’s okay.
But you probably shouldn’t be building an ad around it.
Even with the best intentions, Unilever UKs Baby Dove ad featuring breastfeeding was a miss on multiple fronts.
The ad poses that “75% of people say breastfeeding in public is fine. 25% say put them away. What’s your way?“ Um, FYI, Dove, “your way” doesn’t matter, because since 2010, it has been against the law in the UK to tell a woman she cannot breastfeed in public. So, on top of being insensitive, Dove didn’t do their research, or failed to take government policy into consideration. Strike one.
Another big issue. The tone-deaf nature of the content makes it apparent no breastfeeding moms were involved in the making or approving of this ad. Or if so, their voices weren’t heard. It’s no wonder over 50% of moms around the world feel misunderstood and misrepresented in ads. Because again, if you’ve ever had to juggle a desperately hangry baby, a breast that could out-squirt a Super Soaker, and the wandering eyes of confused and judgmental strangers, you would have never thrown this topic out for public vote. Strike two.
And finally, the products Dove was advertising (baby skin care) didn’t even directly relate to breastfeeding. Making it seem they co-opted this touchy subject just for press. Strike three.
This is all especially disappointing and surprising considering Dove’s recent history of insightful, powerful ads like the Campaign for Real Beauty. But it highlights the importance of weighing the real sensitivities and perspectives of your target, whomever that may be.
So run your ads featuring breastfeeding moms by breastfeeding moms! Run your single dad ads by single dads! Run your ads targeting 3-year-olds past … nobody! Please don’t target 3-year-olds. Just remember, no one is expecting you to be an expert on every target. But you are expected to make sure you’re engaging the people who ARE the experts. The target themselves.