The 7 Grossest Breastfeeding Ads

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7. The most basic kind of gross – the “yuck factor.”

Mexico City’s breastfeeding campaign featuring saucily-posed semi-nude celebrity figures reads: “Don’t turn your back on them, give them your breast.” In an attempt to address the low rates of breastfeeding in Mexico (only one in seven mothers breastfeeds exclusively for the first six months), city official braniacs devised this sexy campaign. In effect, they managed to perpetuate the idea that breasts should be censored, to make postpartum mothers feel ashamed of their bodies, to make mothers feel like they’re to blame if breastfeeding doesn’t work out, and to sexualize infant feeding. Way to go, Mexico City!

Mexico City’s 2014 breastfeeding campaign. Story behind the ad and obvious reasons why it’s pretty crappy here.

McDonald’s ad features a bright-eyed baby nursing on a Big Mac. There are no words. This is gross because… McDonald’s!

Three ads featuring young women breastfeeding their babies in public bathroom stalls: “Table for two”… “Private dining” … “Bon apetite.” This is a great campaign bringing public awareness to breastfeeding harassment; powerful stuff here. But it’s gross because these ladies are feeding their babies on public toilets. Ew. (The point exactly!).

6. Advertising unrealistic expectations.

Ad by the City of Milwaukee Health Department here for the I Want a Strong Baby campaign. Sorry, but breastfeeding your kid won’t guarantee him a soccer scholarship.

Another ad for the I Want a Strong Baby campaign. Breastfeeding also will not guarantee that your baby can do military push-ups in his Pull-Ups or will become a black-belt in karate. I dunno, kinda thinking this one’s Photoshopped.

Ad for the Breastmilk Counts campaign. “Slim faster. Breastfeeding burns calories.” Sure, breastfeeding helps some mothers drop the pregnancy weight. But is this potential side-effect really worthy of display on a two-story tall billboard? Is it one of the top reasons why “breastmilk counts”? High calorie burn might be a reason why some mothers choose to initiate breastfeeding… but if that’s the only reason or one of the best reasons, then what’s to keep them going once weight loss plateaus?

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Texas billboard. Photo Credit: Jessica R. via Keep Austin Nursing in Public

5. Inappropriate references to breastfeeding.

Similac Advance ad promoting its Infant Formula with Iron Newborn bottles — I mean breastfeeding. Wait, I mean… I’m so confused. What I take away from this is a strong suspicion that the mentioned “feeding guide” cannot be trusted. At least Similac gets points for trying really hard to hit all the bases. Nice play, Similac… but you’re on the bench for the next inning.

Ad for online dating site CougarLife.com featuring an attractive woman breastfeeding her baby, whose thought bubble reads, “Jealous?” Get it? Because she’s a cougar, which means she’s a hot older woman who robs the younger-dude cradle for dates and sexy times. The ad was taken down after complaints by residents of the West Hollywood neighborhood where it was posted. What’s to complain about? Let’s see… Exploiting a minor for an adult site. Implying that breastfeeding is sexual for a baby and/or its mother. Suggesting that the typical romantic relationship dynamic between an older woman and a younger man is equivalent to that of a mother and her breastfeeding baby. Just… no.

Lithuanian juice bar ad created by an agency called New! The ad reads “PLEASE YOURSELF TOO. Drink juice.” It shows a woman breastfeeding and sippin’ on some juice. My first thought, “I’ll have what SHE’S having! Please myself? Yes sir!” Then I noticed the baby. Annnnd the creepiness sets in. Not only is the graphic unfortunate, the words “Please yourself too” suggest that breastfeeding her baby cannot possibly be pleasant. For sacrificing her pleasure by feeding her baby, she deserves something that’ll make her feel good. Like, “O-face” good.

Here are two more not super-classy ads from the same set. Apparently, breastfeeding a baby is on par with a man being forced to offer his girlfriend a shoulder to cry on, and a woman whose lover bores her to death in bed. Lovely.

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4. Selling breast milk to sell formula.

An ad for HiPP Organic formulas reads: “We’ve learnt from the breast.” Great! So what exactly did HiPP learn? Turns out, not much. “…after the breast, you want to give your baby the very best.” Indeed, which means after the breast, give your baby the other one — not formula. HiPP’s quite hip on assumptions it seems: “…when you decide to move from breast to bottle…” When?

It also reads: “Our milks contain the key nutrients found in breastmilk but with an added bonus: they’re organic.” The “added bonus” is more like added bogus. When exactly did breast milk stop being organic?

An ad for Nestle Good Start reads: “We learned from the best” (well, this is a mighty popular phrase ain’t it) “So we could give you and your baby our best.” So let’s check out this picture. Oh look, breastfeeding and bottle-feeding is exactly the same! Even the lighting is the same. And the babies could be twins. And the moms are both equally happy. Well damn, if “nothing else is breast milk” and “nothing else is Good Start,” then nothing else matters! Because it’s all the same! ….but, is it?

An ad for Aptamil Follow On Milk formula declares: “30 YEARS Breastmilk Research.” So, Aptamil’s scientists must be experts on all matters of breastfeeding. They even emphasize the word “years” with CAPS so they must REALLY mean it. (Must really mean business, that is).

3. Supplementation ads for breastfeeding moms.

SMA formula’s ad reads: “What’s the best milk after Kate’s?” I answered, “Donor milk!” but the ad doesn’t want me to know that, apparently.

Another ad by SMA: “What’s the best milk after Lisa’s?” It seems that, like Kate, Lisa didn’t have much luck with donor milk. So naturally, her best bet for choosing the formula that’s best for her unique baby is by heeding the invested opinion of formula marketing campaigns.

An ad for Aptamil Forward formula intended for babies 6 months and older: “After mum, Aptamil.” Mum is quite enough, okay? It is actually 100% normal for a baby to thrive on mother’s milk alone. That said, some babies do not. If Mum’s baby needs something extra, then baby’s doctor can help them decide what comes after Mum. Not an ad that portrays infant formula brands as one-size-fits-all.

Children are more special and more important than “one size fits all.”

2. Breastfeeding support packages filled with free formula.

An ad for the Enfamil LIPIL “Breastfeeding Support Kit.” Well… this is awkward. Because it’s a breastfeeding support kit… “specially designed for nursing moms”… for those who choose to supplement, that is. If a formula company truly cares about breastfeeding moms, how about they save the money they spent patching together and sending out these “free” baskets and instead help make free donor milk available at doctors’ offices for supplementing moms? Just a thought. Feel free to add it to your basket.

Various ads by formula companies targeted toward mothers who intend to breastfeed. Uh, congrats… and good luck? Formula marketing not only harms breastfeeding mothers, it harms formula feeders as well. Learn more about the truth behind formula marketing here. If you know a mother-to-be who wants to breastfeed, help her out by gifting her with a FOR REAL Breastfeeding Support Basket.

1. “Breastfeeding is dangerous” scare tactics.

An ad for Cow & Gate formula reads: “I’m thinking of getting a t-shirt made – “Danger! Sore boobs!'” So the woman pictured has suggestions for alleviating breastfeeding-related soreness, right? Nope, at least not in this ad. It appears that Cow & Gate products are her only salvation from sore boobs. Damn, girl. Shoulda called me… I know a badass lactation consultant who coulda fixed you right up!

Regional Cancer Center’s ad reads: “Women who smoke feed more than just milk to their children.” This implies that if a smoker breastfeeds her child, she might as well just let him puff on a cigarette.

Want to know the truth? Even if a mother smokes cigarettes, breastfeeding is considered a better choice than formula feeding as it offers greater protection against the passive effects of smoking on the infant than does formula feeding, a belief supported by the Committee on Drugs and American Association of Pediatrics.

One study reported that the incidence of acute respiratory illness is decreased among the infants of women who continue to smoke cigarettes throughout breastfeeding, compared with formula-fed infants whose mothers also continued to smoke. Read more about cigarette use among breastfeeding mothers here.

An ad for Garmastan lotion by advertiser Armila for a maternity magazine reads: “BREASTFEEDING HURTS.” It has two pages stuck together; when you open them, the area of the baby’s mouth rips off a bit of paper over the woman’s areola. In other words, apparently not only does breastfeeding hurt, but it will shred your nipples off. This ad was made infamous by The Alpha Parent as “Possibly the Most Anti-Breastfeeding Advertisement,” and I have to agree. The AP wrote a great analysis of the ad that’s basically perfect here.

If you can’t read the small print, here you go: “See, your baby is hungry 12 times a day, and that much of breastfeeding makes your nipples very sensitive. They become sore and may even crack. But it will not be a torture if you use Garmastan before and after the feeding.”

Hey Garmastan — how about you come over and wash my damn dishes, give me a deep-tissue back massage, strip my cloth diapers, and have dinner on the stove by five? That’s what I really need to make breastfeeding less painful. All of that, or plant me a backyard garden blossoming with coconut trees and my own cabana boy to magically transform them into a limitless amount of coconut butter.

I will not pay you to play me.

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