To ensure babies make it to their 1st birthday: United Way re-introduces "Strong Baby" ads

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The Milwaukee Lifecourse Initiative for Healthy Families (Milwaukee LIHF) Collaborative, in partnership with Serve Marketing, has launched a grassroots campaign designed to engage the community in the crucial conversation around the importance of changing the conditions that can lead to stronger babies.

"Too many Milwaukee babies continue to be born too small and too soon. 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," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, co-chair of the Milwaukee LIHF Collaborative, led by United Way of Greater Milwaukee said.

"We need to focus not only on individual behaviors, but on the many underlying community conditions as well," Shirley McFarlane with Northwestern Mutual and the co-chair of the Milwaukee LIHF Collaborative said.

The new campaign, which was unveiled during a press conference at United Way, re-introduced the popular "Strong Baby" ads -- first launched in September 2010, with a fresh look and renewed emphasis on using social media to engage the community in the conversation.

"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. 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," Gary Mueller, founder and volunteer creative director for Serve Marketing, which developed the original Strong Baby campaign said.

Bus shelter ads featuring Savannah, one of the original Strong Babies who is now a healthy, strong four-year-old will begin appearing in targeted zip codes this week with the message: "It's time more babies became strong babies."

A refreshed Strong Baby Facebook page and website will provide critical information to individuals and a space for people to share information and ideas.

“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. We know we will not move the needle on this issue until we change the conditions that lead to poor birth outcomes," LaShawndra Vernon, program director for the Milwaukee LIHF Collaborative said.