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How "Breast Is Best" Came To Be......

Recently I wrote about how "Breast Isn't Best" and in response to that someone sent me a link to a fantastic blog entry I just had to get permission to reproduce.  Here it is:

Breast is Best, Sponsored by Simfamil: Don Draper Explains It All For Us.

INT: STERLING COOPER DRAPER PRYCE, DON DRAPER's OFFICE. PEGGY OLSON and PETE CAMPBELL sit expectantly on the sofa, an easel bearing the Simfamil logo and a photo of a smiling baby next to them. A box with canisters of various brands of formula is on the floor.

Enter a typically taciturn DON. He glances at the easel and continues to the liquor cabinet without breaking stride, pours himself a scotch.

DON: I'm not sure why this took 2 weeks. This should have come easily to you, Peggy.

PEGGY: Well, I've bee-

DON: Just tell me what you have.

PEGGY: (takes a moment to square her shoulders, then continues) This has been trickier than you might think. We've been reviewing the latest improvements by Simfamil as well as the improvements to formula made by competing brands and -

DON: Competing brands don't matter.

PETE: (leans forward) What? What do you mean?

DON: The other brands aren't the problem we have to worry about. That part's easy.

PETE: (huffily) Listen Don, I've worked long and hard to get us this account. Simfamil is not going to want to hear that Enfilac isn't a threat that we take seriously. The market data shows that coupons and sampl-

DON: Enfilac, Simfamil, Nestle, their strategies have all been the same. Look at this.  (He grabs a one canister after another out of the box, reading their labels aloud, then tossing them aside.)

"More like mother's milk". "The closest thing to mother's milk." "Now with more of the same ingredients found in breast milk". They're all vying to make their product more like breast milk than any other brand. What's the problem with that, Peggy?

PEGGY: (thoughtfully) Well, because there's just no comparison with breast milk. We've looked at all the research, and the brand never matters. Formula just can't measure up, no matter what brand. So . . . (she gestures at the discarded canisters) . . . how do we set Simfamil apart from them?

PETE: (enthusiastically) A new package design? Some prettier, younger models as the mothers?

DON: We take on breastfeeding itself.

PEGGY: But you just sai . . . didn't we just say there's no comparison to breastmilk?

DON: There isn't. Formula can't compete with breast milk. We can't fight the research and mothers know this. Almost every mother in America wants to breastfeed. There's no suppressing the truth. Women know that breastfeeding is best. So we're not going to argue with that.

PEGGY and PETE look at each other silently. DON tosses back the rest of his drink and pours another.

PEGGY: I give up. You don't want to promote the new ingredients of Simfamil. Are you saying we should try to find research that makes it look like formula is better?

PETE: We've tried. It doesn't exist. (PEGGY nods.)

PEGGY: So what do we do?

DON: We promote breastfeeding.

PETE: What?  (He goes to the liquor cabinet and pours himself his own drink, gesticulating)
I can't believe you're not taking this seriously. This account is one of the biggest we've ever had a shot at! With everything I've gone through with my father-in-law and losing the -

DON: Breast . . . is best.

PEGGY: looks incredulous, then seems to start thinking.

DON: walks over to the easel and rips down the poster with the logo and baby on it, and writes "Breast is best" on the blank sheet underneath.  The research says so, doctors say so, there's no arguing it. And if we attack breastfeeding itself, it backfires, because the facts are the facts, and that makes us not only the bad guys, but liars too. What does the word "Best" imply?

PEGGY: listens intently, then starts to write.

DON: Best. Perfect. Ideal. They all have one thing in common. They're impossible. Unattainable. There is no such thing.

PEGGY: (catching on) Women may dream of being perfect mothers, but they know it's just a dream. So if breastfeeding is perfect, we need to give them permission to be imperfect. Not just permission, but encourage them to be imperfect.
DON: Exactly. So how do we get them from understanding that breast is best to buying formula?

PEGGY: We hire our own experts.

PETE: AHA! Actors pretending to be breastfeeding experts who will say that formula is better! I get it.

PEGGY: No, no, not at all. We hire real experts. And we set up our own hotlines for women to call when things go wrong, and promote those hotlines. And we sponsor information that's given out by doctors themselves, too.

DON lights a Chesterfield. A confused PETE shakes his head and shrugs helplessly, sitting back on the couch.

PEGGY: (building momentum) And we make up pamphlets and other resources that look like they're designed to help moms with all the problems that mothers are likely to encounter, emphasizing how many things can go wrong. We focus the whole campaign on helping women navigate the terrible, perilous, grim experience that breastfeeding is likely to be. We mention every single thing we can think of: Sleep deprivation, slow weight gain, cracked and bloody nipples, [PETE winces] how hard it is to nurse in public and how hard it is to have to stay home instead, and on and on. We're the good guys, we're just trying to help - it's not our fault that breastfeeding is so difficult and unpleasant. We look altruistic and supportive - we're not trying to get women not to breastfeed, we're just here to support them in case it doesn't work out.

PETE: (lightbulb finally going off, however dimly) And then we make sure it doesn't work out. What about that part of it?

DON: The information we give. Do we give out accurate information?

PEGGY: Some of it is, and some of it isn't. Little things that undermine breastfeeding, subtle things, things that will jeopardize her supply. Like telling her to never nurse a newborn more than 15 minutes at a time, for example; and saying that frequent feedings for a newborn are 3 to 4 hours apart. The mom will be lucky if she can make enough milk, and when it doesn't, she'll just think something was wrong with her. Because she's not perfect - and that's okay.

DON: And then we swoop in to save the day.

The three look satisfied. PETE and PEGGY stand.

DON: Come up with a new slogan by the time we meet with Simfamil tomorrow.

PEGGY: I'll have it by the end of the day, actually.
(She exits. PETE follows behind.)

PETE: (turning back for a last word, hand on the doorknob) Bert Cooper is going to think you've gone off the deep end, you know.

DON: He's thought so before. He always gets used to it.

PETE raises his eyebrows, shakes his head and exits. DON goes behind his desk, puts out his cigarette, and reaches for the phone.
CUT TO: INT: JOAN HOLLOWAY's office. She picks up the ringing phone.

JOAN: Yes, Don? . . . Of course I have the best . . . Model them? . . . In your office? Now? . . . You're lucky I'm such a liberated woman, you know. I'll have your secretary hold your calls.

ZOOM IN to her cleavage, then FADE to black.
Many thanks to Dou-la-la for permission to reproduce this piece :)


  1. As usual the formula companies are very good con artists its sad to think we cannot stop there marketing of formula. we have stopped cigaret advertising completely. and shortly they wont be on display in shops. why not do the same to formula or put it on prescription so that a lactation consultant has to prescribe it. so that woman can be taught how to formula feed correctly. We now live in a violent society why? it may be the milk of human kindness dried up in the 70's and 80's due to the push for formula fed babies. there is a theory that lack of human contact and lack of breast feeding, caused a more violent society. And due to the cry it out culture and the stress hormones released in the brain as a result, i would agree that attachment parenting for the first year on a heightened level and breast feeding exclusively for 6 months then majority of fluids by breast feeding for 6m-1year would make a huge impact. What upsets me is celebrities who were breastfeeding take the attitude oh cant do it in public due to the paparazzi. to me you should be proud to feed your baby by breast and do it anywhere any time and if the paparazzi took my pics it just make sure that money made from say the ok magazine article a huge chunk went to breastfeeding charities to support mums.

    Be proud bear your breast to feed your baby, so what if you get ogled at it was what they were for from time began. Be confident and refuse to be held to ransom by these companies.


  2. Love this! It explains in a few lines what Gay Palmer takes chapters to expose. Not that I don't think her book is absolutely wonderful, of course!

  3. Hi Jay
    Newman has written about that, have you read? you can see here:

  4. Just to let you know AA, the link to your 'Breast isn't best' article at the top of this one is broken. x

  5. This is the best explanation I've ever read of exactly why the formula companies appear to support breastfeeding. Thank you!

  6. I've had people tsk-tsk me for pointing out how 'breast is best' helps formula companies - do you have any sources about where that slogan came from that I can share?


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