Helping pregnant women stand out from the crowd

Hoop turned design into news by reinventing the ‘Baby on Board’ badge to help expectant mums get noticed.

Henry Warrington

Partner & Creative Director Third City


Giving up your seat on public transport for a pregnant woman should be a no brainer. This, however, is quite some distance from the reality.

In 2016, a blogger named Anna Whitehouse conducted an experiment. She wore a fake bump on the London Underground in soaring summer temperatures to see how many people would give up their seat for her. Only four out of 10 people did. “I find that people are either too engrossed in their phones to be aware of their surroundings, or won’t offer their seat unless prompted,” she said.

Dr Oliver Scott Curry, quoted in an article on BBC Online, said that selfishness and inattention play a part, but so does passing the buck: "Everyone can be waiting for someone else to do it, thinking 'why should it be me? I'm exhausted'.” Rising transport costs, too, increases the sense of ‘seat entitlement’.

Then there’s the potential unbearable awkwardness of potentially getting it wrong. Another study showed that one in four commuters hadn’t given up their seat for a 'pregnant' woman in case she wasn't actually expecting a child. Or patronising them with the suggestion they need help.

So, Hoop, a family activity-booking app for parents with children of all ages, conducted their own study among pregnant women and mothers to get their side of the story. It revealed that over a quarter of pregnant women (28%) have felt ignored on public transport, with the current ‘Baby on Board’ badges shown to not be visible enough. There was a clear opportunity for Hoop to step in, helping them to reach their audience of parents with a campaign that’s genuinely helpful.

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mum influencers involved in the campaign

Reimaging the ‘Baby on Board’ badge 

Working with three inspirational female designers, Hoop reimagined the classic ‘Baby on Board’ badges to not only be more stylish than the original, but more striking and noticeable, with vivid and eye-catching colours that couldn’t be ignored and designs that encouraged empathy.

The designers were Marion Deuchars, a working mother and proud feminist who publishes beautifully illustrated children’s books; Erin Aniker, who draws inspiration from the inclusive community she’s grown up with in London as well as her dual Turkish/British heritage and global travel; and Ellie Thomas, whose work is defined by graphic lines, bold colour and typography.

Once created, a page was designed on Hoop’s site where people could apply for one of the limited-edition badges for free. Images of the badges, together with our research revealing how many pregnant women have been ignored on public transport, were released to media for Mother’s Day. Coverage was extensive, with key pieces including Good Morning Britain, The London Evening Standard, The Huffington Post, BBC Breakfast and Lorraine.

In addition, seven key mum influencers were engaged to share the campaign across their channels together with their own experiences of being ignored on public transport, while social listening tools were used to find news of celebrity and influencer pregnancies, allowing us to instantly send them badges.

To date, more than 7,000 badges have been ordered, causing a spike in app downloads.

Third City, London
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Guest Author

Henry Warrington

Partner & Creative Director Third City


Henry is a Creative Director who likes simple ideas that make a big impact. From putting an Olympian on eBay to DNA testing an entire village in the Cotswolds, his work generates news, achieves commercial success, and, most importantly, makes people smile.

Related Tags

Design Inclusion