Pregnancy can simultaneously be one of the most beautiful and lonely times of a parent’s life.
It’s a also a daunting carousel of decisions and research that begins long before the baby arrives, as parents have to decide how they’re going to approach everything from diapering to screen time on electronic devices.
While the more alluring option might be to skip the mounds of text and just seek advice or comfort from fellow parents, the reality is that the only thing more daunting than all those choices is the potential judgment you might face when you disagree with another parent.
A recent survey of 1,000 U.S. parents, commissioned by formula brand Similac, found that 72% of parents feel judged by other parents over their child-rearing preferences. Conversely, only 29% said they typically intervene when they witness parents being pressured by others.
The resulting Mother’s Day campaign—”The Promises Project” from Similac—attempts to address the pressures that new parents feel and encourage all moms and dads to be more supportive of each other.
While Similac is subtle about messaging the specific issues parents feel judged on, given that the brand creates baby formula, it’s clear that the often-emotional debate around bottle feeding vs. breastfeeding is at the core of the campaign.
With the help of Leo Burnett network agency Arc, Similac attempts to shift the attention back to positivity and mutual support by asking real parents to make a promise to their babies. The short film shows mothers and fathers promising to love, support, and believe in their infants. Before long, the films makes the observation that the promises they were making to their children were the same promises that fellow parents should make to each other.
In a statement sent to Adweek by the brand about the campaign, Similac supported putting a priority on breastfeeding but said many women who choose bottle feeding—sometimes out of necessity—reported feeling negatively pressured for their decision:
The Similac research found that society puts immense pressure on parents to make the exact right decisions for their children when it comes to all sorts of parenting decisions such as how early a child reaches important milestones (such as walking and talking) and early childhood education. Breastfeeding and baby formula were listed as one of many amongst common parenting pressures.
Similac knows that breast milk is the gold standard in infant nutrition. However, we believe it is important for all parents and their healthcare teams to choose the best feeding options for their babies and themselves. We know that for moms who cannot or choose not to use breast milk, formula is the only nutritionally safe alternative and Similac is proud to offer safe and nutritious formulas that help babies grow and to support parents on their journey.
However universally positive in its message, Similac is likely to have its share of detractors who feel the brand is trying to lure parents toward the convenience of bottle feeding. When the brand launched a similar campaign in 2013, a New York Times parenting columnist said the message of tolerance for bottle-feeding parents was “a little laughable when ‘brought to you by Similac.'”
That said, it’s hard to disagree with the idea of creating a more positive and supportive environment that is ultimately beneficial for parents and children alike.
Agency: Arc, a Leo Burnett Group agency
Shawn Millerick, VP US Pediatric Marketing
Adam Tancrede, Senior Brand Manager
Irina Katon, Brand Manager
Leo Burnett Group
Chris Cancilla, EVP, Chief Creative Officer of Arc
Shawn Farrell, SVP Creative Director
Chrissie Bonaguidi, SVP Account Director
Lauren Hawes, VP Strategy Director
Cindy Tomek, Creative Director
Julian Gallo, Associate Creative Director
Stephanie Samalis, Producer
Meredith Metzl, Account Director
Lynsey Elve, Senior Vice President
Tiasha Stevenson, Vice President
Candace Corner, Senior Account Supervisor
Zoe Krey, Senior Account Executive
Grace Derbyshire, Assistant Account Executive