that encompasses an aligned set of actions designed to achieve a goal, rather than simply an advertising campaign.

The Message and the Brand

Campaign messages should support a goal. Parvanta characterized messages as memorable, explanatory words or images that convey an idea and communicate whatever the person creating the message wants people to know, feel, or do. Messages are crafted after concepts are tested; the concepts, in turn, should be derived from specific behaviors to be promoted. More than ever, Parvanta said, the messages depend on the medium that will carry them.

As an example of a campaign that targeted a behavior, Parvanta presented a campaign that was developed to encourage women capable of becoming pregnant to take folic acid. She offered two very different concepts that could be used to promote this behavior that were based on research with this population: one for women who have or want to start families soon and another for women of child-bearing age who do not plan on getting pregnant soon. The words and images used to promote folic acid differed depending on the intended audience.

The brand represents a promise made to consumers by a company or organization. A brand delivers on its promise, Parvanta said, by having every single activity linked under it to support the idea. In this case, she said, Loving Support is the brand, and “makes breastfeeding work” is the brand’s promise. WIC tries to deliver on the promise through program service delivery (to include staff, facilities, hours, and communications) as well as through community support, such as the legislative environment, hospital and physician practice, peer network, and community attitudes.

When launched, the Loving Support campaign was based on formative research and then-leading theories in health communications. For example, research showed that the campaign strategy should emphasize the emotional benefits of breastfeeding for families, so this is the focus rather than the health benefits of breastfeeding. Parvanta advised building the campaign from the ground up for maximum brand integrity, with community and family attitudes, the birthing hospital policies, and staff and community physicians providing a strong base so that WIC can make breastfeeding work. The question is now, what research is needed to update the positioning and marketing mix for WIC breastfeeding promotion?

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