Reimagining Celebrity Partnerships: Activism With Influential Parents

How Bobbie disrupted the baby formula aisle and created a motherboard of advocates

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Why would a celebrity with millions of followers want to bare all (quite literally) to work with a formula company? The answer is radically simple: There is nothing more universally humbling than feeding a baby.

For those who aren’t familiar, the contentious space of baby formula is a category riddled with parent-shaming opinions on what should or should not be said, posted, allowed, supported or marketed. Essentially, it’s a category with “shoulds and shouldn’ts” mandated by outdated guidelines.

As the first new infant formula company to launch in the U.S. in seven years, we knew we needed a new approach to turn an industry on its head and disrupt the aisle.

Starting the right conversation

We needed a new way of building the brand in favor of a more ethical, honest approach than the legacy conglomerates who dominated the category. How would we do it?

First and foremost, we knew we needed to start a new conversation around formula. And that meant a celebrity could never be a simple swipe up or a single social post. We needed a bigger, better, bolder and more—well, Bobbie—approach.

Enter the Bobbie MotherBoard. We bypassed the influencer agency, the codes and the superficial C-suite titles, and went full throttle on establishing a diverse collective of modern parents, leaning into emotive storytelling, fierce activism and bringing these well-known faces shoulder-to-shoulder with our community of parents in their reality: the winding road of feeding and raising babies in America.

It all started just six months after we hit the market with our first national brand campaign, “How Is Feeding Going,” launched during National Breastfeeding Month, a triggering time for parents who can’t breastfeed. The campaign video asked viewers to pledge to create a different kind of conversation around feeding by asking, “How is feeding going?” rather than assuming any new parent would breastfeed.

We won two Webby Awards for our work. The campaign had nothing to do with selling infant formula and everything to do with evolving the cultural conversation around how we choose to feed our babies.

Finding the right voices

The campaign featured intimate, first-person stories from Lesley Anne Murphy, a double mastectomy previvor who could not breastfeed her baby; Tan France, a new dad via surrogacy who could not source donor breast milk; Kelly Stafford, a mom of four who chose to go straight to formula with her fourth baby to salvage her mental health; and Hannah Bronfman, a new mom who set a six-month breastfeeding goal but had to deal with the disappointment and guilt of not meeting it.

And then we took it one step further with our inaugural MotherBoard. The collective included Tan France, Laura Dern, journalist and author Elaine Welteroth, and supermodel Ashley Graham; these powerhouse parents helped build the advocacy plane as we flew it in year one. Graham created history on the first-ever combo feeding billboard and shared the internal struggles of trying to nourish twin boys from her breasts alone and the guilt she felt after being such a “successful breastfeeder” for turning to formula. It was one of her most engaged video posts to date.

Welteroth’s story came to life in real time. Her own birth plan took last-minute pivots; as a Black mother in America, she felt the implicit bias of the medical system, a factor many that attribute to the maternal mortality crisis where women of color are four times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. She evolved from TV host to staunch advocate for this issue, activating the internet, telling her story with Bobbie, advocating for midwifery care as a solution to the maternal crisis and hitting the Hill in Washington, D.C. with a team of lobbyists to reintroduce the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act.

It’s since been put back on the table and, even after finishing her stint on the MotherBoard, Welteroth has stepped up to help us reach 100 million people across social media with a viral activism moment (#PassMomnibusNow). She helped us officially launch our social good and policy arm of the business, Bobbie for Change.

A natural extension of brand identity

Make no mistake—activism is woven deeply into our DNA, and none of this is pure happenstance. It is a natural extension of our identity as an activist brand and how we operate in the world.

So when these celebrities align with Bobbie, we don’t look at their value through the lens of “How can you help us sell formula?” but rather “What issue are you passionate about that is impacting parents across the country, and how can we get loud about it together?” Bold attracts bold. And we can create change together.

These icons have something else in common with our team of moms and community of parents: We are all collectively pissed off about the same policies and problems that impact families in America. Together, with our VC-backed resources and their combined voices and reach, we can make a tangible impact.

We operate in a way that acknowledges we are much more than a powdered milk company, but rather a fired-up group of well-educated mothers who understand the power of community and believe in investing in generational change. Our Irish-born mom of three CEO, Laura Modi, set this tone from day one.

More than a famous face

This year, our second MotherBoard is beyond anything we ever imagined: Meghan Trainor, Naomi Osaka, Karlie Kloss, Emily Oster, Gabrielle Union and Tan France, who is affectionately referred to as our MotherBoard GodFather and back with his second baby. Each of them is more than a famous face; they are parents using their platforms and personal journey into parenthood to reshape the narrative of what it means to feed a child and parent in America today.

The best part is that we have no idea whether any of our new MotherBoard members will even use Bobbie for their babies (all due this summer!) They may blissfully breastfeed for a year or need a specialty formula that we don’t make. And if that’s the case, we’re proud to invest in and share those stories as well.

It’s not about a predetermined product deliverable; it’s about connecting their raw and real-time stories to those same shared experiences of being a parent in America in 2023 and advocating for change along the way. What are we asking them to influence? Paid leave. An end to the maternal mortality crisis. Equitable feeding. Less shame. Better maternal mental health. Confidence over comparison. Postpartum support. Fewer unsolicited opinions, more science-backed insights. Frankly, none of it is explicitly tied to selling products, and we intend to keep it that way.

So why did we create the MotherBoard? You might say, our babies made us do it.