'Archaic': Outrage as ad showing breastfeeding banned from Facebook

Kristine Tarbert
·Features and Health Editor
·5-min read

Feeding a child - whether by breast or bottle - is one of the most natural and beautiful things in the world, and yet a new ad campaign on the subject has been deemed 'adult content' and banned by Facebook.

Infant feeding and bottle brand Tommee Tippee released its new campaign called 'The Boob Life' on Monday, offering an uncensored look at feeding a child, but revealed the original uncut advertisement was rejected by the social media giant.

Tommee Tippee new campaign called 'The Boob Life'
Tommee Tippee released its new campaign called 'The Boob Life' last week. Photo: Tommee Tippee

“Facebook representatives told us that even though it may be an ad referencing breastfeeding, that they don’t allow nudity in any form and that the creative should be revisited so as not to cause negative interactions or experiences," Vanessa Gonzalez, Tommee Tippee’s Marketing Manager, told B&T.

“If you’re offended by a mother feeding their baby then just look away. Censoring 'The Boob Life' only serves to reinforce archaic attitudes towards mothers and women — advertisers have an opportunity to change that.”

Australian ad review platform ClearAds originally labeled the video an MA 15+ for ‘nudity’, however on Friday, that rating was reduced to an M.

But even though the brand then produced a shortened and 'no-nipple' version of the campaign to offer to Facebook, the tech giant reportedly still refused to air it. Instead, only a 15-second product-focused version of the ad has been approved for use on social media.

Tommee Tippee breastfeeding ad
The original ad was deemed 'adult content' and banned from Facebook. Photo: Tommee Tippee

"It sends a message that something is wrong or shameful about what they are doing when in actual fact they should feel proud and confident with how their body is changing as they enter motherhood," Vanessa continued.

She added Facebook's reaction to the ad was a worrying indicator of “how we as a nation are treating mums”.

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Tommee Tippee recently conducted research that revealed 93 per cent of mothers said the emotional, mental and physical challenges of infant feeding were under-acknowledged by society.

This sparked the idea for the advert, which in its entirety showcases a diverse cast of real mothers in various different feeding situations - from tandem-feeding, to breast pumping, to dealing with leaking breasts, and bottle feeding.

The original uncut version of the ad was released on the brand's website.

Tommee Tippee breastfeeding ad shows mother breast pumping
The ad showcases a diverse cast of real mothers in various feeding situations. Photo: Tommee Tippee

Over on Twitter, plenty of social media users shared their outrage at Facebook's decision to ban the clip.

"All new mothers are encouraged to breast feed their children, when some can't for what ever reason many have felt ostracised or less of a mother," one person wrote. "Ads like this should be encouraged not criticised. There is nothing sexual or perverted in these ads."

"I don’t understand why nipples have to always been seen as ‘sexualised’. Breastfeeding is no easy feat. There is nothing sexy about breastfeeding. I love this ad. Show it for what it is," another agreed.

While a third wrote: "I don’t wish to show my nipples but if people are happy to do that then who are we to protest? Men openly show theirs, why is it different for women? This ad isn’t offensive nor controversial to me, though I fear it will be to some others’ sensibilities."

And it's not the first time Facebook has come under fire for a 'disappointing' ban on something women have to deal with on the regular.

Late last year, the social media giant decided an ad for Australian period underwear brand Modibodi was too ‘shocking’ and ‘sensational’.

‘The New Way To Period’ campaign was introduced in September with the hope of normalising menstruation by using the colour red to represent blood.

At the time Modibodi’s founder and CEO Kristy Chong, who fought the ban on the 60-second clip, criticised the social media platform for its ruling, branding the decision “outdated”.

“Our aim for this film was to open people’s minds by taking the stigma out of what is a perfectly natural bodily function. It was not made to be deliberately sensational or provocative, but to show the very real and natural side of periods,” she told Yahoo Lifestyle.

“It’s the 21st century and it’s disappointing Facebook doesn’t want to normalise the conversation around menstruation.

“It’s time to put an end to menstrual taboos. Period," she concluded.

According to ModiBodi, in order for Facebook to consider running the ad, three offending scenes which use the colour red to represent menstrual blood would have to be edited out.

Facebook Australia and New Zealand director, Naomi Shepherd, told Mumbrella that while she ‘loves’ the video ModiBodi created to promote the range, the platform had a "high set of standards" for what content can be included in ads.

“Our Community Standards outline what is and isn’t allowed on our free services, however, when it comes to ads on Facebook we have a higher set of standards for what content can be included in an ad,” she said.

“Our Advertising Policies are more restrictive because they take paid distribution to appear in people’s personal News Feeds and clearly state that ads must not contain text or images that may shock or that focuses on someone’s personal attributes, including their physical or mental health condition.”

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