Saturday, April 21, 2012

Leaked Kraft Oreo Breastfeeding Ad Was Never Meant for Public Eyes

As I sit here watching a media frenzy take over the Internet, it saddens me that it is once again over something as normal as breastfeeding. I am not shocked, as I have come to expect this type of reaction from the public, especially in the US where breastfeeding is still not seen as the norm. Women are repeatedly told to "cover up" when breastfeeding out in public, and while Facebook claims they are supportive of breastfeeding--they have continued to remove breastfeeding pictures that are less than revealing.

I recently saw the new Kraft ad for Oreo's and it actually made me smile. I thought, wow there is a company that is finally showing some open support of breastfeeding. I had read that the ad was meant for Korea, and was not something that would be used throughout the rest of the world. That part was a bit of a let down, as I think the US needs more breastfeeding ads, but nevertheless, I thought it was cute and creative. I was happy to know that a company as big as Kraft would create something that helped normalize breastfeeding.

(I would love to share a picture of the ad here, but  due to copyright restrictions, I cannot. To view the ad for yourself, please visit this link. The ad depicts a baby breastfeeding while holding an Oreo in one hand, with a tagline that reads "Milk's Favorite Cookie." I also want to note that I appreciate the design and willingness to show breastfeeding, even if was mostly advertising a cookie. So, thanks Cheil Worldwide, the advertising agency for Kraft.)

Last night, I became aware that Kraft released statements about the ad and what it was supposed to be used for. Apparently, the ad was never meant for the public to see--not the public of Korea nor the public of the rest of the world. This is when I felt a big let down, as I had thought the company was making a change to help normalize breastfeeding, instead, they were trying to cover up this "leaked" ad that was never supposed to see the light of day, at least not in public.

As I searched through new articles that keep appearing online, I started to notice a trending theme. "Controversial" "Provocative" "narrow reach" "pushing boundaries" This was what the online news sources were saying about the ad. Reading through comments on the articles made things worse. "not appealing" "disgusting, just like going to the bathroom" (yes, of course breastfeeding compared to using the toilet, as usual)

However, I also noticed a theme of support amongst the comments on the news sources, some saying that it was "natural" or "normal." Others thought it was creative, funny, or were just happy to see breastfeeding featured on an ad from a large company. I even read comments from people who labeled themselves as conservative, and they thought there was nothing wrong with the ad. Some people even said the ad was effective, and they seemed to think more about Oreo's and wanted to go buy some. Maybe some said this in jest, but isn't that the point of advertising? To get the consumers talking about the brand and excited about the product? I think an ad that helps Kraft sell more cookies and helps normalize breastfeeding can't be all that bad, not for breastfeeding moms or for Kraft.

Today, if you do a Google image search for the ad, you will find numerous results of the ad--but mostly with a star, block, or part of the pictured blurred so you can't actually see the baby latched on. I suppose the critics overwhelmed the Kraft offices, with their claims of something that went to far, something that was not normal or natural, something that was too provocative and controversial. So, Kraft backpedaled and made sure that everyone knew that the ad was only done for a one-time advertising forum and was never meant for the public eye. Kraft also stated that the ad was not created by Kraft themselves, but by their advertising agency.

So, maybe Kraft leaked the ad on purpose to get some media attention or maybe they really didn't want this secretive ad shown to the world. Regardless, I don't understand why they feel the need to let everyone know--it's not a real ad.

Why can't this be a real ad? Why can't Kraft say, "Hey, we support breastfeeding and we created an ad that was creative and eye-catching. We stand behind this ad." With so many families adopting a healthier lifestyle and avoiding processed foods, I truly thought there would be more of a frenzy over the baby holding a cookie, which I'm sure some parents disagree with.

What type of society have we become when an ad that depicts something as normal and natural as breastfeeding is seen as provocative and should be kept hidden away in secret? Doesn't this just reinforce the message to new moms that breastfeeding is OK, if it is done secretly and behind closed doors?

We wouldn't want the public to ever catch a glimpse of a breastfeeding mother's breast, as that would be wrong and entirely objectionable. Let's make sure everyone knows that ads that depict a woman's breast or a woman practically naked are fine, but only if there is no baby latched on to that breast--as that would just be wrong and offensive. I mean hey, we don't want to see anyone using the toilet and that's normal and a natural biological function, so why do we want to see a woman breastfeeding? (insert eye roll here)

Leave it to our culture and American society to completely go haywire over the fact that a boob being used for it's biological purpose appears on an ad. A boob with a baby latched on to it is apparently disgusting, ethically wrong, and not normal. Yet, if the boob was advertising lingerie, bras, or sexy clothing it would be OK and the ad would probably even awarded for it's eye-catching appeal and creative design.

(If Kraft changes their tune and decides to run with the ad, I am OK with it, I am not afraid of a little bit of boob--with a baby latched on.)

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