McKinney Will Work With Office of Women’s Health

The Ad Council has tapped McKinney + Silver to handle a three-year project for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Women’s Health. It is the Raleigh, N.C., shop’s first assignment for the organization.

“We’ve been wanting to work with them,” said Priscilla Natkins, executive vice president of campaign management for the Ad Council in New York. “They have terrific creative skills and strategic smarts.”

McKinney executive creative di-rector David Baldwin and group creative director Liz Paradise will work with the OWH to create a breast-feeding awareness campaign. The mass-media effort will target first-time mothers in a combination of economic and ethnic groups.

Research, according to the client, indicates that only 29 percent of American mothers choose to breastfeed. Only 19 percent of African American women do so.

“Despite the many benefits, the rates in the U.S. are alarmingly low, especially at six months postpartum, which is the minimum time recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General,” said Dr. Suzanne Haynes, senior science adviser for the Washington, D.C., client.

Benefits include lower rates of diabetes and cancer for mothers and an increase in brain development for babies.

OWH’s goal is to increase the proportion of mothers who breastfeed in the early postpartum period to 75 percent by the year 2010.

A secondary goal, which agency president Brad Brinegar said was more challenging than the first, is to break down the social barriers that prevent women from choosing to breast-feed.

“We’ll start off with research to understand whether we’d be smart-er to build awareness of the positives or remove perceptual barriers,” Brinegar said.

One separate target might be employers.

“There are issues involved in taking time from work, the inconvenience and appropriateness of feeding in public, or of leaving the factory floor to pump breast milk into a bottle,” Natkins said.

McKinney’s first work, including television, radio, outdoor and collateral, will launch early next year.