What do you all think of this ad?
It's powerful, but don't expect to see it run, as this ad was shelved in favor of a less effective ad that ran for a very short time (see below for that ad).
Apparently this was a concept ad that was proposed to the Department of Health and Human Services in an attempt to raise the nation's historically low rate of breast-feeding. A few years ago, federal health officials commissioned an attention-grabbing ad campaign to try and convince mothers that their babies faced genuine health risks if they did not breast-feed. The campaign featured striking photos of not only insulin vials and syringes, but also asthma inhalers topped with rubber nipples (see BrandWeekNRx.com for all of the pictures).
But this ad, along with several others, were apparently caught up in the scandal involving suppression of information that was at odds with the Bush Administration's line of thinking or did not mesh with an industry that supported President Bush, in this case, the infant formula industry. As the former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona testifed before Congress this summer, the Bush Administration repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports because of political considerations, and this looks like another case of political cronyism beating public health concerns.
The World Health Organization recommends that, if at all possible, women breast-feed their infants exclusively for at least 6 months. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that breast-feeding decreases the incidence and/or severity of a wide range of infectious and autoimmune diseases and may decrease the rate of sudden infant death syndrome in the first year of life. Statistics also show that breast-feeding babies reduces the incidence of type 1 diabetes, lymphoma, leukemia, and Hodgkin disease, and asthma in older children and adults who were breastfed when compared to individuals who were not breastfed.
But despite the known benefits, the U.S. has one of the lowest rates of mother's nursing their infants in the industrialized world. Women tend to do what their mother's did in terms of nursing, and in the U.S., women in the 1950's and 1960's were instructed that formula-feeding was better than breastfeeding.
Not everyone is able to breastfeed their children because public breastfeeding remains illegal in some states, or they work in jobs that do not provide space or time for breastfeeding or pumping, or because their children are adopted. They claim that the proposed ad campaign used hyperbole and scare tactics. But really, that is often the very basis of an effective ad campaign, which is to get consumers to think about something being advertised.
For example, consider the now legendary 1964 "daisy" political ad for Lyndon Johnson. Talk about memorable, that ad aired only once (by the campaign) during a September 7, 1964 movie that aired on NBC, yet remains an advertisement that looms large in the public consciousness decades later.
But as The Washington Post reported, plans to run the ads infuriated the politically powerful infant formula industry, which hired a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former top regulatory official to lobby the Health and Human Services Department. Not long afterward, department political appointees toned down the campaign. The result was this lame ad:
Kevin Keane, then HHS assistant secretary for public affairs and now a spokesman for the American Beverage Association, said "We took heat from the formula industry, who didn't want to see a campaign like this. And we took some heat from the advocates who didn't think it was strong enough. At the end of the day, we had a ground-breaking campaign that goes further than any other administration ever went."
But the milder campaign HHS eventually did use had no discernible impact on the nation's breast-feeding rate, which lags behind the rate in many European countries. Statistics cited in The Washington Post article showed the ads actually may have caused a reduction in breast-feeding rates when the ads ran.
I am curious what all the Diabetes OC'ers think about the shelved campaign? Would you have liked to see it run, or did it "scar expectant mothers into breast-feeding" as the lobbyists for the infant formula industry claimed? What are your thoughts regarding the Bush Administration's hostility towards sound science? Should we even be encouraging breast-feeding, or is this up to mothers to make this decision?
Thursday, October 25, 2007
What do you all think of this ad?