CAMPAIGN: Band & Brown leads breastfeeding push

The UK has poorer participation rates in breastfeeding compared with many other developed nations. Typically if you are a young mother from a lower socio-economic group, you are less likely to breastfeed your baby...

Nell McAndrew: talked about the importance of breastfeeding to young mothers
Nell McAndrew: talked about the importance of breastfeeding to young mothers

Campaign: National Breastfeeding Awareness Week
Client: Department of Health
PR Team: Band & Brown
Timescale: March – May 2007
Budget: £21,000

This is despite evidence that breastfeeding is better for both babies and mothers in terms of its health benefits.

The Department of Health runs Nat­ional Breastfeeding Awareness week each year to focus health professionals and women on the benefits of breastfeeding.  This year, a massive marcoms drive was planned to support the week, which fell between 13 and 19 May.

To develop a campaign to support National Breastfeeding Awareness Week and promote the benefits of breastfeeding to women aged 16-25 from lower socio-economic groups. To normalise breastfeeding for women 16-25 (C2DE). To encourage health professionals to run local events promoting the benefits of breastfeeding .

As healthcare professionals have little time to spare, Band & Brown’s strategy focused on raising awareness of the awareness week by positioning this year’s as the biggest event of its kind, and by providing guidelines and materials that would help them support the initiative at a local level.

The agency created content for the revamped NHS breastfeeding website, which included an ideas function, media relations advice and press release templates, and also set up a hotline service for media help.

Stakeholder briefings were offered and a briefing took place with the Royal College of Midwives and NCT.

Healthcare trade media were approached with a news story about the launch of the campaign and features set up providing information and offering ideas on what healthcare professionals could do to promote breastfeeding.

For the consumer pages, celebrity mum Nell McAndrew was secured as the campaign spokesperson and an exclusive shoot was run with an interview on the benefits of breastfeeding in ­celebrity title OK!

McAndrew also designed an exclusive ‘I love my mum’s milk’ babygros which were given away to relevant fam­ous mums and through a competition on

Regional and national consumer features also plugged the latest medical research on health benefits. The campaign’s core messages were that breastfeeding provides the perfect nutrition for the baby’s first six months and helps protect against gastro-intestinal, ear and chest infections, asthma, eczema and other allergies.

It also reduces the risk of pre-menopausal breast and ovarian cancer as well as helping mothers to regain their shape by using an extra 500 calories a day.

The campaign achieved over 100 regional, national and online media coverage including the Daily Star, Closer,, Nursing Times, Community Practitioner and Royal College of Midwives Journal.

Independent research proved the campaign’s success – 30 per cent of 18 to 24-year-old C2DE women had seen the coverage and 27 per cent said it made them think more favourably towards breastfeeding. Internet tracking has revealed over 16,500 visits to the website since the date of launch, and Band & Brown claims a ROI of 15:1


Tony Josephs (l), director at Amazon PR: People hold strong views about breast­feeding, and changing behaviour requires sustained effort, so this was a tricky brief.

The campaign set out to comm­unicate the benefits of breast­feeding to young mums and looking at the results, the message seems to have got through.

Given the audience, the Daily Star Take 5 piece was a good hit. The OK! feature was effective too, as was the extensive regional print.

It would have been good to see some more tabloid coverage, with The Sun and News of the World being obvious, but difficult, targets. I’m not sure if a lack of broadcast coverage was intended. Broadcast media would have offered oppor­tunities to discuss these topics, as would a link with a soap storyline.

It would be interesting to see some analysis of the messages con­veyed. It isn’t clear whether the cam­paign really acknow­led­ged what prevents women from breast­feeding, such as emb­arr­ass­ment, and discomfort. Explicitly tackling these issues and reass­uring women they have every right to breast­feed, alongside positive endorse­ment from ‘yummy mummies’, would have been an interesting approach.

Research shows that young mums are influenced primarily by their peers, partners and immed­iate family. Recruiting a celebrity closer in age or profile to the target audience or, better still, profiling ‘real people’ – mums, dads and grandparents – to whom audiences can relate, could be worth exploring in future years. 

Alex Black recommends


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