Engaging the Five Senses to Drive Change for Breast Pumping Mothers in Australia

Milkdrop enlists the help of Leo Burnett Australia on their quest to make breast pumping a more pain-free experience for mothers everywhere in new campaign.

In 2021, Milkdrop, a women’s health start-up made up of Australian engineers and designers who believe women shouldn’t be an afterthought in product design, uncovered a startling statistic: seven out of ten women reported discomfort, pain, or damage when using breast pumps, with eight out of ten expressing that the experience made them “feel like a cow.” The root cause of this prevalent issue lies in the absence of readily available data on nipple shapes and sizes, which is a crucial factor in the design of a comfortable breast pump. 

Milkdrop partnered up with Leo Burnett Australia to raise awareness and data for an International Nipple Encyclopedia through a new campaign: “The Uncomfortable Feed. The campaign took over Milkdrop’s social media, featuring a series of vivid visuals of uncomfortable scenarios such as nails on a chalkboard, food being squeezed, teeth opening a bottle and biting an ice block, and cutlery scratching a plate. The purpose was to deliberately evoke a sense of unease in viewers, fostering empathy for mothers who routinely experience discomfort in their daily lives. 

We connected with Stacey Karayannis, Associate Creative Director at Leo Burnett Australia, to learn more about the campaign and the impact she hopes it will have on the breast-feeding experience

With the development of International Nipple Encyclopedia, what was Milkdrop’s brief and what challenge were you asked to solve?  

Milkdrop designs breast pump cushion inserts to make pumping more comfortable for new mums. Alex Sinickas (Founder & CEO of Milkdrop) and her team’s ambitions as a business are truly inspiring. They want to create a cushion to fit every nipple out there. But the nipple data they needed to create these custom cushions didn’t exist. They came to the agency as they needed a creative way to capture as much nipple data as possible. 

In exploring women’s experiences with breast pumps through Milkdrop’s survey, what insights emerged, and how did these insights inform the overarching approach, narrative and purpose of the campaign? 

Breast pumps only come with 1-2 funnel sizes, but nipple sizes are vast. Thousands of new mums are unknowingly pumping in the wrong-sized breast pump funnel, and it can be extremely painful. Unless you’ve had to use a breast pump yourself, which is less than half of us, no one really knows how uncomfortable pumping in an ill-fitting funnel can be. So, we knew we had to spread awareness of this painful issue first to help us capture more nipple data.  

What sparked the decision to showcase uncomfortable scenarios on Milkdrop’s social media platforms? How does the campaign achieve a balance between being light-hearted and addressing a serious issue, aligning with the broader vision of the campaign? 

To try and garner attention online from a wider audience, not just new mums, we knew we had to take a bit of a light-hearted approach. We borrowed from social trends using ASMR-type imagery and created “The Uncomfortable Feed,” – anuncomfortable feed online to make feeds for new mums more comfortable in real life.  

Every post on the feed, is designed to mimic the feeling of pumping in the wrong-sized breast funnel – from the awkwardness of watching kiwis being grated or tomatoes squashed to smithereens, to spine-tingling visuals of nails scratching a blackboard. By making people feel uncomfortable, we hope we can encourage them to help make things more comfortable for new mums.  

In what ways do you hope “The Uncomfortable Feed” campaign will impact public perception and understanding of the discomfort associated with breast pumping? 

We hope “The Uncomfortable Feed” not only encourages people to share their nipple data but keeps the conversation going. From mums sharing the post that best describes their pumping experience amongst each other, to someone showing their partner a post that helps them understand their pumping experience more: “Hey, that was me. My nipples felt like marshmallows getting snipped.”