Some 95% of mothers feel judged, but they also do plenty of judging themselves, as Similac's latest campaign delicately demonstrates. In an attempt to end the mommy wars, the brand brings us a heartfelt, nearly eight-minute mini-documentary promoting the "sisterhood of motherhood."
The long-form spot follows the brand's hilarious spot earlier this year, in which mommy gangs battled it out on the playground.
This raw acknowledgement of the constant judgment women receive for their choices as moms is guaranteed to make you cry. It's also a huge tonal shift from the humorous scripted video that first took the campaign viral.
After the outpouring of support for the first video, "we knew that we wanted to continue the conversation and nail down what was really going on with moms," says Similac brand director Misha Pardubicka-Jenkins says. "The 'Mother Hood' video was a satire and humorous, but 'End Mommy Wars' is real. It's not scripted—it's how real moms judge and feel judged. It's important to show this if we really want to end judgment."
Cynthia Wade, an Oscar winner for her 2007 short documentary Freeheld, was tapped to direct the Similac film and let the real feels flow. Woven throughout are the judgments mothers face about breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding (the judgment most relevant to Similac). But it would be difficult for anyone, even a La Leche League devotee, to argue that Similac is taking a pro-formula stance.
Notably, every woman in the video has tried breastfeeding. Those who didn't continue had good reasons, from premature twins to lumpectomies (though having a "good reason" shouldn't be a prerequisite for any decision you make as a parent). The film even begins by highlighting a mother who breast-pumps at work, and depicts several mothers casually breastfeeding on camera.
"How parents feed their babies is a very personal decision, but the mommy wars have opened the topic up for public debate," says Pardubicka-Jenkins. "We want to transform mommy wars into mommy support by changing the conversation."
In fact, the lack of support mothers show each other was the biggest surprise for Wade. "I was struck by how isolation kept coming up as a theme," she says. "Even with supportive partners, friends and jobs, the resounding sentiments expressed by many of the moms were, 'I wish we could all talk about this more openly' and 'I wish I had a greater sense of being connected and supported in my daily job of being a mom.' "
Which is why the women come together at the end of the video to support each other and tearfully admit their snap judgments. It's the most moving part, because it's also the most necessary. In order for any of us to opt out of the mommy wars, we have to support each other on our journeys—wherever they lead.
"By the end of the shoot, I was truly moved by the appreciation the moms had for each other," says Wade. And she wasn't alone. "I was most surprised by how quiet the mostly male crew got, how much the moms' stories affected them."
They affect us, too. It's worth watching the whole film on YouTube—where, of course, the comments are disabled. So, if you want to be all judgey, take it somewhere else. It isn't welcome here.
Chief Creative Officer: Andy Bird, Publicis
Executive Creative Director/Writer: Jason Graff, Publicis
Executive Creative Director/Art Director: Whitney Pillsbury, Publicis
Chief Production Officer/Executive Producer: Lisa Bifulco
Senior Producer: Lisa Dritschilo
Music Producer: Theresa Notartomaso
Production Company: Mrs. Bond
Director: Cynthia Wade
Executive Producer/Production Company: Jeff Rohrer
Editorial House: Union Editorial
Editor: Sloane Klevin
Executive Producer/Editorial House: Caryn MacLean
Music House: Asche & Spencer
Audio House: Heard City/Corey Melious