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Mother London - #FreeTheFeed
#FreeTheFeed

The two stripes are still bright on the pee stick when the judgement disguised as well intention begins. For 40 long weeks, pregnant women have to carry around, alongside the weight of their growing babies, a heaping load of unsolicited advice:

“You really shouldn’t be drinking any coffee.”

“But green tea is still filled with caffeine.”

“Have you checked if that cheese is pasteurised?”

“How much weight have you put on? Because that bump is looking more eight months than six.”

“Sushi, really?”

“You must do hypnobirthing / yoga / NCT / Pilates.”

“And since your credit card is out, make sure you get the really expensive pushchair that you will only use for six months and then sell on eBay because it doesn’t go through any regular door.”

From maternity bra to birthing method, everyone including the bus driver and that stranger you got stuck in a lift with, seem to have an opinion that must be shared. It’s not surprising that once the bump is replaced by a wriggly, crying, excreting and constantly hungry bundle of joy, the intrusiveness turns into an art form.  So much so that scientists have been compelled to research it. According to a recent Cardiff University study, modern mothers feel constantly watched and judged. And no area of motherhood is more prone to scrutiny than how she chooses to feed her baby - this was followed up in another study from PHE confirming the behaviour.

As if getting any form of nutrients through a baby’s mouth wasn’t complicated enough, women who do manage, and choose, to breastfeed need to deal with the added risk of attracting negative attention when doing so in public. It’s not quite clear what so many people find offensive about a lactating breast that they don’t with a Page 3 one, so, after reading the research and testing it a bit further, we wanted to help make a difference.

Mother London - #FreeTheFeed
#FreeTheFeed

#FreeTheFeed

Strategy

We surveyed 1,000 mums and it confirmed what we’d suspected: 36.1% felt judged, and a staggering 61.3% felt embarrassed whilst breastfeeding. Cafés or restaurants were felt to be the least welcoming places (58.1%), followed by public spaces (29%), public transport (25.8%) and other people’s homes (22.6%). In contrast, thankfully, just 4.8% of mothers felt judged or embarrassed in their own homes.

We wanted to make mothers feel comfortable whilst feeding their infants, without fear of judgement or embarrassment, especially on the one day that is focused on mums: Mothers’ Day. But we couldn’t just target mums. We needed to jolt a wider audience into realising the absurdity of creating a taboo around breastfeeding. After all, the UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world.

The idea

What is more impactful than a 6m breast on a London rooftop? By creating an extremely provocative visual, we made sure that the content was picked up by influencers and general public alike and spread organically. Our aim was to represent the absurd attitudes towards, and treatment of, breastfeeding with an iconic and inherently shareable image, at exactly the right time to generate maximum interest.

On Mother’s Day 2017, London woke up to an unexpected addition to the skyline: a 6m diameter anatomically correct inflatable breast. The provocative visual came with a serious message: #FreeTheFeed -  encouragement for new mothers to feed their children however and wherever they choose to, without guilt or shame. We used an absurd visual metaphor to represent the absurd situation new mothers are being faced with, and in doing that, created the world’s most publicly displayed breast.

Results

Our campaign organically spread worldwide in blogs and news channels, sparking a conversation around the stigma associated with public breastfeeding. It inspired new behaviors as mothers actively embraced the spirit of the campaign and started sharing pictures of themselves feeding their babies in public with pride using our campaign hashtag. Importantly, it reached a large audience, with 651,973,248 editorial media impressions - all articles carried the #FreeTheFeed message. This was amplified with social conversations - 8.4m on Twitter and 2.6m on Instagram.

Agency: Mother London, London

61.3%
Mothers who feel embarrassed while breastfeeding
8.4 million
Social conversations on Twitter
Mother London - #FreeTheFeed
Mother London - #FreeTheFeed

About the author

Ana Balarin, Mother London, Executive Creative Director

Ana started her career at Mother in 2007 as an intern. Over the past nine years she has risen to become our first ever Executive Creative Director - in partnership with Hermeti Balarin (who is also her husband). Ana has created culturally impactful work for clients including Boots, IKEA and Coca-Cola. She is a regular recipient and judge of industry accolades, including D&AD and Cannes Lions - she is also the only person to have breastfed whilst judging Cannes Lions.