This Clueless Breastfeeding Ad Has Moms Threatening a Boycott


Advertisers just got a lesson in how not to target moms, thanks to the beauty brand Dove's baby product line, Baby Dove. The company featured a breastfeeding mom in an ad timed to the UK's breastfeeding week. But while honoring nursing moms sounds like a good thing, it's the way the brand approached breastfeeding in public that has moms around the globe threatening a Dove boycott.


The ad attempts to give a nod to the different ways moms feed their babies by serving up statistics that claim 75 percent (of who they don't specify -- moms? dads? aliens?) say "breastfeeding in public is fine" while 25 percent say "put them away."

unilever breastfeeding ad

The statistics aren't presented as a way to do things; rather, they show how people feel about public nursing. But the ad had some concerned that giving a voice to naysayers will prevent moms from feeding their babies when they're hungry, because they're being told once again that they should "put them away." And the reaction has been fast and furious.

Twitter has been flooded with calls to #BoycottDove, and moms on both sides of the pond are weighing in on popular Facebook pages like Breastfeeding Mama Talk, expressing their concerns that the brand has given rise to anti-breastfeeding sentiments. 

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More than a few have pointed out the hypocrisy inherent in using breastfeeding week to make lives harder for moms who nurse in public, something that already puts a target on mothers' backs. 

angry tweet

angry tweet

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Others are calling BS on marketing that pits moms against one another in a bid to make money.

boycott dove tweet


Moms have to breastfeed in public, because kids don't only get hungry when the family is at home, lounging on the couch. But surveys show a full third of moms are still afraid to breastfeed in public, and one out of every 10 moms actually decides not to breastfeed precisely because of the fear of public nursing and the shame that's heaped on moms who feed their babies when they're out and about. Ads like this one certainly don't help to erase those fears.

And, as if it isn't bad enough to make life harder for breastfeeding moms, anytime moms are put in a position of judging who does it better, all parents -- and their kids -- wind up losing. Moms parent differently because they have different kids, different family situations, and they are different themselves. Comparing us and pushing us apart only makes it harder for us to lean on that global village upon which we so depend to raise our kids to adulthood.

Since the backlash started, Dove has responded with a statement that it supports both moms who breastfeed and those who do not.

Dove response

The brand is right -- there is no one "right" way to parent. But the right way to advertise to moms is via support, not by forcing them to take sides.

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