United Way campaign aims to reduce infant mortality

A new advertising and social media campaign is setting out to spark greater public support around the critical need to reduce Milwaukee’s infant mortality rate.

The campaign, announced today at a press conference at United Way of Greater Milwaukee, combines the missions and talents of the Milwaukee Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families – an effort led by United Way – and Milwaukee-based Serve Marketing.

Through the grassroots campaign, the Milwaukee LIHF Collaborative and Serve Marketing are reimagining the popular “Strong Baby” advertisements, which premiered in September 2010.

“Too many Milwaukee babies continue to be born too small and too soon,” said Mayor Tom Barrett, co-chair of the Milwaukee LIHF Collaborative. “We have to change the conversation to ensure more babies make it to their first birthday. In order to have strong babies, we must have strong mothers, strong fathers, strong families, and a strong, supportive community.”

In addition to redesigning the “Strong Baby” ads, the campaign will rely heavily on social media to further draw the public into the conversation on curbing infant mortality.

“We need to build a long-term dialogue in the places where our audience likes to have conversations – on their phones, online and using social media,” said Gary Mueller, founder and volunteer creative director for Serve Marketing. “So for the next year, we’re placing a heavy emphasis on building a strong social community to help us spread the word about what it takes to have a strong baby.”

Serve Marketing, an all-volunteer, nonprofit advertising agency, devised the original “Strong Baby” campaign in 2010. One of the original Strong Babies, Savannah, appears on bus shelter ads that will debut this week in targeted zip codes. Along with Savannah, who is now a healthy 4 year old, the ads display the message, “It’s time more babies became strong babies.”

Community residents can add to the conversation generated by the campaign at iwantastrongbaby.com. Public information and a dialogue will also be featured on the “Strong Baby” campaign’s revamped Facebook page.

“This campaign allows us to communicate with young moms and dads, parents-to-be, and the broader community about the importance of understanding the kind of individual and community change that will lead to a lower risk of prematurity,” said LaShawndra Vernon, program director for the Milwaukee LIHF Collaborative. “We know we will not move the needle on this issue until we change the conditions that lead to poor birth outcomes.”

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