An Advertising Mom’s Mother’s Day Wish for the Marketing Community

Happy Mother’s Day! Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and an estimated 84% of U.S. adults will be celebrating this year. This day can bring a variety of emotions, and it can mean different things to different people, but at its core, it’s a day to celebrate the motherly figures in our lives and share our appreciation for all of the work, both visible and invisible, that they do every day. There is always a big push around this “holiday,” with retailers, restaurants, and local businesses fighting to capture a share of the estimated $35 billion market for Mother’s Day gifts. They spend time, effort, and money to craft the perfect Mother’s Day messages, with the goal of driving both immediate sales and overall loyalty. Based on the numbers, they’re doing a good job driving immediate sales, but are they actually building loyalty with moms?

Milled Mother's Day email 2018
Image courtesy of


Brands love to pretend like they “get” moms – some brands really do a good job illustrating the best and toughest parts of being parents (we covered two of these last year). Brands attempt to “help” moms on Mother’s Day by telling spouses and family members to give the special mom in their life a break, indicating that they should cook, clean, buy jewelry, flowers, and Mother’s Day cards…oh, and spend several hundred dollars in order to show they care. But these things aren’t what we really want on Mother’s Day – we just want a solo trip to the bathroom, the opportunity to listen to an entire podcast without explaining who Dax Shepherd is, or a peaceful trip to the grocery store without a meltdown in the checkout lane. Do you know the mental effort required to get through the grocery store with three kids? I feel like I’ve completed the triathlon and am thrilled if I make it out without breaking the budget. Best mom award if no one yelled or cried (me included).

See, it’s not about the big, special, and unique gift that costs $300 bucks. It’s about the little everyday things that make life a little easier. I love my kids unconditionally, but sometimes, when you’ve explained for the 400th time that we don’t need a $35 tub of caramel popcorn that they don’t even like, you just need a break. It’s not even the kids’ fault – it’s the thousands of outside influences designed to capture their attention. U.S. adults are exposed to more than 100 advertising messages each day – imagine how much exposure my kids get as a result. I can attest to the power of advertising –it works so well that, as a mother of three spirited, strong-willed, curious and persistent kids, over 50% of the questions and arguments I field during a given day and the meltdowns I thwart regularly, are directly attributed to advertising messages and product placement. A plea for Mcdonald’s, a meltdown over a chocolate bar, an argument over YouTube privileges, a silent treatment because I will not purchase 10,000 Fortnite V-Coins just because they are on sale. It takes herculean mental effort to guide the impulsive minds of 4, 7 and 10-year-olds. So, how can brands really help moms on their special day? Give us a break. From you.

If brands want to go beyond the immediate sales leading up to Mother’s Day or if they want to build loyalty amongst moms and their families, they need to think outside of the box and show mothers that they get it. In this year’s Mother’s Day edition of Plain Talk, we’ll share some unconventional tips for brands and marketers to give moms what they really, really, really want this year.

Spoiling Mom This Year: 4 Tips for Brands

1. Stop delivering digital advertising to any tablet in my home.

My kids are smart and persistent. They have strong opinions that they share freely and with the highest degree of emotion if warranted. My kids are technologically proficient and, like most kids their age, have easy access to age-appropriate apps, games, videos, and information at the tips of their fingertips. According to Insider Intelligence, nearly 80% of internet users age 0-11 are using tablets) and my kids are no different.

MK's three children watching tablet

With digital targeting, brands have the ability to reach me on any device in my home. This sounds like a great strategy – you can reach your intended target and those in their immediate circle (who can influence decisions) on multiple touchpoints in the home. It’s even a strategy we’ve used for our clients before. A brand can reach its audience on a phone, a TV, a smart speaker, and even a table.

But here’s the thing – I don’t even know where my tablet is most days. I’m not the one using it – it’s the kids. You may think, how is this a problem? Have you ever had to defend your choice of laundry detergent to an almost-10-year-old in the middle of the store? While he spouts off facts about better and more expensive laundry products that he’s learned about in between watching gaming videos?

I don’t want flowers this year – I want to make my own buying decisions and adult on my own terms. So, this year, for Mother’s Day, please stop targeting the tablet. If you must, then wield your power responsibly … try teaching them how to actually do the laundry. Or teach them a solid coupon strategy so we can actually afford the fancy detergent.

2. Take a break from the grocery store games. Cover up the checkout aisle.

We know how the checkout aisle works, and as advertising professionals, we understand the importance of getting your brand that front-row real estate. Impulse shopping works – according to a recent survey, American shoppers spend on average $314/month on impulse purchases, and the check-out aisle, end caps and other point of purchase (POP) displays are major contributors. The checkout aisle alone can easily add $2-10 dollars to the cart, and this adds up. In 2021, shoppers spent over $6 billion on products from the checkout aisle.

As a mother, the checkout aisle is my nemesis – no matter how well I’ve skirted the end caps and the POP throughout the store, the checkout aisle is the last and most difficult challenge in our grocery store games. Just look at the number of help articles online telling parents how they can optimize their chances of avoiding a meltdown during checkout (some advice simply being to leave the kids at home).

We have some other ideas. Why don’t you remove the distractions at the checkout lane – just for one single day. On Election Day or Sunday mornings in the South, stores cover the beer aisle with paper – on Mother’s Day, let’s cover the checkout lane with paper. Or get rid of all the candy and toys that make kids go crazy – fill it up with bottles of wine, beef jerky and some adult snacks. This is the type of creative thinking that will make it the best Mother’s Day yet.

Liquor sales closed for election dayPhoto courtesy:

3. Use my media consumption habits for good.

Using research and technology, marketers know exactly how to reach moms. We know where they spend the most time with media, how they use specific media channels, which channels and activities they gravitate toward for information, and which provide moms with entertainment (think: social media). Generally, we use this information to make sure our message is reaching the right person at a time when they will be generally open to hearing the message.

But according to a recent poll commissioned by Moonpig, the best gift is the gift of time. Over 60% of mothers want to be able to drop everything and just take a minute. They don’t want greeting cards; they want time – time to think, time to be with family, time to enjoy hobbies and time to take care of themselves. Yes, mothers are listening to the radio, they are listening to podcasts and watching streaming videos. So, let’s use this media consumption data for good – use it as a map for where to leave Mom alone this Mother’s Day!

If these amazing mothers are looking for uninterrupted “me” time, then brands can give it to them, even if only for a day. On the rare opportunity that Mom is listening to a podcast by herself, let her do it in peace. Don’t infiltrate her social feeds. Don’t insert an ad about a rare but serious complication of name-any-disease and ruin her moment of peace. In fact, I think there should be no anxiety-inducing messages allowed after 7 p.m. Moms could use a good night’s sleep too. Focus on search – I’ll come to you; you just need to be there when I need you.

4. Make it easier to do business with you.

The majority of mothers work outside the home, which means they are constantly trying to balance their to-do lists. Between meetings and planning for clients, we’re also juggling soccer games, batting practice, ballet lessons and a million other things. Sometimes we forget, until a very inconvenient time, that we needed to do something. It’s always right before I put the kids to bed or while making dinner that I realize that I needed to swing by the store, call to make an appointment, or buy a present for a friend’s new baby. And if it wasn’t me who forgot something, it’s my kids – a project they forgot to tell me about or a special dress-up day that requires a special item.

This Mother’s Day, instead of Mother’s Day quotes about unconditional love or accolades like “Wonder Woman” or “World’s Greatest Mom,” keep the doors open an extra hour. Answer the phone until 8 p.m. Better yet, let me text you when I remember, and you can get back to me first thing in the morning. If your business is not digitally fluent or lacks a strong customer service department, it’s just too hard to do business with you.

A Call for The Best Mother’s Day Gift

Brands don’t have to be just another voice in the chaotic space that is a mother’s brain. As Emily Dickinson said, “Saying nothing … sometimes says the most” (how’s that for an inspirational quote). This year, take your Mother’s Day efforts a step further and show us that you care.

Got any other ideas to add to the list? Want to discuss out-of-the-box ideas with our strategic team of problem solvers? Drop us a note or call us at 502-499-4209. Like what you read today? If you’re not already a subscriber to our Plain Talk newsletter, you can subscribe below.

Mary Kate Reed, Media Director PriceWeber Marketing, Louisville KY
Mary Kate Reed Sr. VP and Media Director