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To Breastfeed In Public or Not, Is That the Question?

It is no secret that this heated debate has caused a recent media stir, and while some feel it is perfectly acceptable, others claim it to be indecent exposure and, therefore, inappropriate. While I myself am pro-breastfeeding in public and believe the same amount of exposure can be seen in Miley Cyrus’s obnoxious outfits, Equinox’s new ad with the line “Commit To Something” has put a strange twist on the controversy.

Showcasing Lydia Hearst breastfeeding two babies in an upscale restaurant looking nothing less than glamorous, Equinox has taken a bit of a stretch tying commitment to a gym with breastfeeding in public. While the line “Commit to Something” does send a positive and powerful message, the only ad strategy I can see here is shock value. It is deliberately trying to startle and initiate reactions from audiences in an attempt to break through clutter and create buzz. And it looks like the strategy worked.

While the ad offended some and received praised from others, the point is that it was talked about. The problem, however, is that the link to the brand is tenuous. Will this really inspire anyone to go work out at an Equinox gym? Will people even remember that this is an ad for the brand, or will they just think of it as a breastfeeding ad?

This ad perfectly underscores a recent MediaPost article, “Marketing: CPG 5 Common Advertising Mistakes to Avoid in 2016.”  According to the article, mistake number 5 is: “Advertising without brand linkage is simply entertainment.” While the ad is certainly making headlines, they are spending a lot of money to get buzz that may not be tied to their brand. Is “any press good press” if people don’t know who its for? The product here isn’t woven into the ad and doesn’t communicate any benefits or connection. Wouldn’t it have been more effective if it showed the woman breastfeeding in a gym?

In short, the ad did a great job garnering reactions, but in the end, if no one comes away with what’s being sold, were Equinox’ ad dollars spent worth it?

~ Tiffany LaSpina, Account Supervisor, The S3 Agency


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