Babies “talk” about breastfeeding in Viet Nam TV spots

June 1, 2012

A&T produced 2 TV spots to air on national television in Viet Nam. Nguyen Huong Giang, Behavior Change Specialist, shares her story on the production process.

Upclose-Strength-in-community2_0In late 2011, we produced two TV spots to promote breastmilk as a product and to build the confidence of mothers to breastfeed early and exclusively for the first six months. Earlier in the year we pretested four concepts with 32 focus groups. The results showed that the favorite concept promoted breastmilk from a baby’s perspective and used scientific evidence to support the claims.

Next we tested three visuals with 36 focus groups to find out which one was most appealing and whether the call-to-action was clear. Respondents were most attracted to real babies and the idea of having them “talk.”

In the TV spots, a 4-month-old baby and a 6-month-old baby talk to each other. Producing the TV spots using babies was very challenging. First we had to find two babies and several backups. It took us two days to shoot the two TV spots. Each spot has a 45-second and a 30-second version. We had to break the filming into short sessions to allow time for the babies to breastfeed, rest, and sleep.

concepts-tested_0Next we had to find children to record the babies’ dialogue. We looked for children between 3 and 5 years of age who had pleasant and clear voices and could sit for a long time and repeat the same sentence over and over. Since there are distinct accents in northern and southern Viet Nam, we had to locate two children from the north and two from the south to record each spot. After searching for 3 days in Hanoi and working with 15 children, we finally found two 5-year-olds who could deliver the whole conversation. In Ho Chi Minh City we selected a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old for the recordings.

When the children became bored or restless during the recording session, the parents and copywriters played with them, talked to them, gave them snacks, and told stories to persuade the children to continue the recording session.

Now came the difficult task of matching the words to the movement of the babies’ mouths. The technical team had to work very hard to control the timing in both versions, especially since the children spoke faster in the northern version than in the southern version.

I’ve learned a lot from this experience and plan to apply these lessons to the next two TV spots we will be making in 2012. First, I’ll review the scripts more carefully and do casting and sample voice recording before shooting to make sure that the dialogue fits within the timeframe. Also, I’ll use older children to record the slogan at the end of the spots to make it snappier and more memorable.

So far, we’re getting positive reactions to the spots. Many people smile when they hear the babies say, “Breastmilk is delicious,” or “Breastmilk is great”, or “Mom, I don’t need to drink water, breastmilk has everything I need to be intelligent.” We often hear people say, “The babies are so wonderful.”

What’s important is that the spots help more mothers practice exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months. We expect the spots will make a difference because the mothers who see them will gain confidence that they really can produce enough milk for a baby for 6 months. And they will believe the message that they don’t need to give the baby water. We’ll be monitoring the spots and conducting a media evaluation to find out how exposure to the campaign relates to changes in beliefs and attitudes, as well as changes in behavior. Already, we see that people are talking about breastfeeding in ways they didn’t before the campaign.

By Nguyen Huong Giang