A multicomponent mass media campaign was launched in Vietnam promoting the life-saving practice of exclusively breastfeeding for babies’ first 6 months. Exclusive breastfeeding is described by some as the single most effective intervention for preventing child deaths, and the benefits of this practice are well documented. Experts claim that for the first 6 months of a baby’s life, it is best if it is simply fed breastmilk and only breastmilk. It’s a practice recommended by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The campaign is addressing the ongoing problem of child malnutrition in Vietnam. While most Vietnamese mothers do report periods of breastfeeding, issues such as not putting baby to the breast within the first hour of birth and introducing soft foods too early continue to remain areas of concern.
By carefully creating an accessible message that speaks to viewers by using emotionally charged visuals and the sweet sounding voices of children, this advertisement was able to stand out amongst other sophisticated media as a successful campaign in the support to increase exclusive breastfeeding. One of the main areas targeted by the campaign was to make very clear to Vietnamese mothers that not even water is needed during this time, a common misconception about exclusive breastfeeding. This comes across in the video by using the confident narration of a babe.
The campaign went beyond the TV advertisements and was also displayed online, in supermarkets and plastered on the sides of buses. The first reports of the campaign showed that over 70% of mothers had seen the advertisements, even those living in rural areas of the country.
This has now become the first breastfeeding mass media campaign to be studied in over 20 years. It will be interesting to see how the outcome of this campaign and subsequent research will affect organizations who seek evidence to support their investments in nutrition communication efforts. And in reaching out this message to additional countries, why not have a campaign promoting the exclusive breastfeeding of infants right here in America?