Breast-Feeding Ads Stalled, 'Watered Down'

The campaign also killed a series of print ads that claimed that babies not breast-fed were at greater risk of certain diseases. The changes were so substantial that the ad agency that first conceived the campaign no longer wants to be associated with it.

But Gordon sees a need for an aggressive campaign to promote breast-feeding to counter the marketing efforts of infant formula companies which imply that formula is close to mother's milk. "There is nothing that is going to bring artificial milk closer to human milk," said Gordon.

These companies also spend millions of dollars promoting infant formula to doctors and to the parents of newborns. Many hospitals even give new parents bags full of free formula after being discharged.

It's a practice banned at the Boston Medical Center and in many foreign countries. "We're talking about newborn babies here. We're talking about people making money on the heads of newborn babies," said Philipp.

Ultimately, Gartner said, the strong ad campaign was needed because previous attempts to get the message across did not succeed.

"And that was the Ad Council's conclusion … that just saying that breast-feeding was best, or breast-feeding was good, wasn't going to have the impact," said Gartner. "It wasn't going to change behavior."

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