A couple of our readers tipped us off to a recent advertising gaffe that had one baby bottle company in a blowback from both dad bloggers and the breastfeeding folk.
“Your breast don’t have air-vents, why should baby bottles,” asks Bittylab’s website for their BARE bottle. The vent-free bottles are meant to imitate a breast and reduce gas intake by the baby. Sounds great, right? It very well could be, but the product became second-fiddle to the message behind it when Bittylab took to Twitter and started advertising.
Our research department says that the tweets are now gone, but the two that got all the attention were:
“Feeling like you’re competing with your newborn for mommy’s attention? Meet BARE™ air-free #babybottles”
“New baby? Reclaim your wife. Meet BARE™ air-free”
The tweets, aimed at dads, suggested that dads are breast-hungry jealous kids…which struck a nerve in the dad-blogging community. It also coincidentally suggested that moms were walking breasts, and that the only way for babies to bond with moms, and moms to bond with dads, is through boobs. It also suggested that the change in emotion a father feels when the household goes from wife/husband to mom/dad is centered around the father resenting his child over the changed dynamic. All not-incredible subtexts to bring up in a tweet aimed to sell a baby bottle.
Bittylab also “stepped in the middle of the breast vs. bottle debate,” said Huffington Post‘s Lisa Belkin (linked below), “by suggesting that any bottle — even one filled with expressed breast milk — could take the place of the real thing.”
All sorts of outrage ensued. The milk, as it were, had gone sour.
Bittylab addressed the issue on their Facebook page:
Ladies, We’re really sorry about the twitter campaign run last week. It was a huge miss understood and resulted in offensive messages. It was taken down yesterday. The messages had nothing to do with putting a husband needs before the baby’s needs, it was more about having a little extra time for the rest of the family. Obviously the whole campaign was poorly executed. We apologize deeply for this miss understanding and assure you, from now on the campaigns will be closely monitored before they go out. Thank you for a second chance.
Ladies? We’ll just leave that alone.
Meanwhile, 194 comments later, Bittylab might have learned its lesson: hire a capable advertising agency to screen tweets. Something they thought was cute and benign turned into a giant mess. Companies need to realize that social media is a public-facing tool and that it’s not just a medium where companies shoot from the hip. The most effective companies have a Social Media Manager and someone that very carefully chooses his or her words to avoid situations like this.