Save The Children has put a real, live birth, featuring a real woman and a real baby, in their latest commercial. Part of their Ending Newborn Deaths campaign and airing in the UK right now, it’s a truly powerful and affecting video, one that will haunt you.
While you don’t actually see very much vagina in the ad, you do see a newborn slipping out of a woman’s body, bloody and wet and a little limp-looking. There is an ominous silence. Then, you watch as the midwife proceeds to get the baby to cry. I can’t help but feel so much for the mom, T-Girl, who lays there shivering while the attendants work on her baby. Spoiler alert: There’s a happy ending and the baby cries! But you should watch anyway, because real birth on TV? You’ve gotta see it.
I think we’re supposed to see that the work the midwife does on the baby saves the baby’s life, hence the use of this particular birth for this campaign. The footage was filmed in Liberia at an agency supported by Save The Children and wasn’t filmed specifically for the commercial. At first, I had a few serious questions/concerns about the use of a third world woman’s birth experience in an ad made for the developed world, even if it is for a non-profit and presumably to help other women like T-Girl. But Save The Children is a pretty reputable charity, so I feel sure T-Girl was consulted and gave consent for this footage of her child’s birth to be used.
Mat Goff, managing director at adam&eveDDB, the agency responsible for the ad, said:
“This is a shocking piece of communication, and it is deliberately designed to make an impact. One million children dying every year on their first day on Earth is a shocking statistic. So many lives like that of Melvin can be saved simply by having a trained midwife present at the birth. Hopefully it will have the impact that children like Melvin and mothers like T-Girl need.”
Sue Allchurch, director of marketing and communications for Save the Children, added:
“The ‘First Day’ creative is a step away from our usual brand advertising, but we felt that a shocking and impactful creative was needed to raise awareness of the scale of the issue and to give the bigger picture of the changes that Save the Children wants to make in the world—stopping children dying for good and helping them fulfill their potential.”
It’s certainly something different, no? What I appreciate about it, in particular, is that it shows birth as it really is, without any of the bells, whistles, and screaming that often accompanies birth in our cultural depictions (at least in movies and TV). I know that many Western people have never seen a baby born before they have their own. People in developed nations might not realize how seriously impactful the work of trained midwives can be, especially in developing countries.
But after watching this video, I think people are going to get it. I have a feeling this ad is going to motivate a lot of people to donate to Save The Children. Bravo.
Photo: Save The Children