A new Korean ad for Oreos, “milk’s favorite cookie,” created by Cheil Worldwide, Kraft’s ad agency, has sparked its share of discussion. The ad (you can see it here) shows a baby “caught in the act” of nursing at his mother’s breast, holding onto an Oreo cookie. The ad, says Mary Elizabeth Williams in Salon, appears to be “heavily Photoshopped”: The baby’s Oreo-clutching hand is awkwardly positioned (suggesting that the hand and arm in the ad are not actually attached to the rest of the baby) and his or her skin, and that of his or her mother, are quite blemish-free.
Kraft has insisted that the ad was made for “a one-time use at an advertising forum and was not intended for public distribution or use with consumers.” Fox Nation has said the ad is a “shocker” while ABC News has called it “controversial” due to its showing an “exposed nipple.”
At a time when Janet Jackson’s 2004 Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction” has led the FCC to fine CBS $550,000 for “fleeting nudity” — a fine which the Obama Administration has asked the Supreme Court to review — it’s not surprising that the nursing baby Oreo addhas attracted such attention, whether or not it has actually been used or not.
But why should the image of a baby breastfeeding be considered so controversial? Williams cites MSNBC writer Kavita Varma-White, who criticized the ad as “kind of… icky… about the way this ad blatantly sexualizes breast-feeding” and declared the ad to be of the “women-being-objectified” sort.
Williams argues that the image is not “automatically sexualized” at all, but is “a memorable photo, it’s the knowing look in the baby’s eyes, combined with intimate closeness of the scene, that makes it compelling.” Saying that the nursing baby ad is “sexualized” show how, for some segments of our society, the image of a naked breast (horrors!) means one and one thing only (sex). This is thinking that contributes to banning, or attempts to ban, breastfeeding in public.
Frankly, I raised an eyebrow at the ad because it shows a baby holding onto the Oreo as if to say, please do start kids eating sugary products as soon as possible. That is a troubling message and even more so when there have been reports of younger and younger children needing extensive dental work for a dozen-plus cavities, not to mention the rising number of children who are overweight. The nutritional advantages of feeding a child breast milk are well-documented — but Oreos aren’t exactly the basis of a healthy diet, at any age.
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