Corporate Breast Milk
Malaika Danovitz is a group creative director/copywriter at mcgarrybowen and was just named 2017 Advertising Mother of The Year Honoree by She Runs It. She’s a mom to a four and six-year-old who thankfully now only drink from water bottles and juice boxes (Yes, Juice boxes!!). You can email her if you want to read the pilot episode of “The Pump Room” (or hear more about the next project, "Boob, The Musical”) at email@example.com.
You haven't lived until you've taken a client call with four ounces of breast milk hanging from your breast in a plastic bottle.
Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip.
The call can be almost as tedious as pumping your breasts. It's funny that it's called "expressing" milk. There's nothing express about sitting in a room in the middle of the work day feeling responsible for your three-month-old baby's nutrition while trying to write the next "Just Do It" for a cracker.
Actually, there's plenty that's funny. Like leaving your precious pumped milk in the back of a New York City taxi and chasing it down to no avail. Or, having a meltdown at airport security because they won't let you through with the milk you've pumped while on a shoot.
Then, there's the communal "Mom's Room" the size of a closet. Two moms on a love seat and two on the floor, packed in like sardines all doing the same thing. The milk envy. How did you pump five ounces in five minutes?? One mom watching her nanny cam. Another mom spilling an entire baggie of milk‑and everyone crying because when it's breast milk it is WORTH crying at work. The contraptions we strap on: wireless, strapless, hands-free. They look like something out of "Homeland."
And we do it all in high-stress jobs. Leaking onto our Anthropologie blouses while presenting our million-dollar ideas to CEOs, CMOs, and all their friends in frigid board rooms.
You can't write this stuff. Or, you must write this stuff.
That's what my art director Evan Sargent and I did while we pumped our breasts. Yes, we were pregnant on maternity leave and back from maternity leave at the same time. Put two creative women in a small "Mom's Room" at an agency and you'll get far more than expressed milk and taglines for tampons. We wrote a TV pilot called "The Pump Room," about two advertising creatives returning from maternity leave to the madness of advertising. It's full of a lot of true stories and some freakishly outlandish ones.
Breast pumping is one of those things that is almost impossible to understand unless you yourself have been through it. That's why we want to create this show. If more people see pumping on TV, not as a joke (but supported by a lot of jokes), maybe more moms will feel empowered to do it, or not do it. Maybe we'll find more flexibility in the work place. And maybe, just maybe, male colleagues will be less weirded out by it.
It's hard enough to have a baby. But, let's face it. Coming back to work sucks. We make light of it, but we also embrace it in all its madness.
So far, CBS told us it was too raunchy. So, we're working on making it raunchier. (And raunchy? Come on CBS! What's raunchy about giving life to a baby? That's part of the problem!) So, Netflix? HBO? Let's shed some light on this breast pumping thing! On Corporate America, new motherhood, and giving our moms a fighting chance at going back to work—and staying there.