News that families are not eating dinner together as often anymore probably comes as no surprise, but how important dinner still is to them just might. While the number of families frequently eating together declined 20 percent since the 1970s, the percentage believing it “very important” (90 percent) remains as strong as ever. Two recent sociology studies about families found the same thing. It’s easy to see why.
Dinner is the one consistent time and place where Americans gather as a family. It is vital to family communication and the developing parent-child relationship.
At Boston Market, this issue was top-of-mind. The client had never advertised its line of family meals, nor had it specifically talked to the prime target: moms. The key strategic issue was how Boston Market could fit into the life of the ’90s Mom.
Based on interviews with more than 100 mothers, it became apparent that the decline in eating together stemmed not so much from a shift in values but a need for greater practicality. Today, it is simply an enormous challenge to pull off a home-cooked meal as often as in the past.
Mothers often come home from their jobs to face several more hours of work at home. A home-cooked meal increasingly has become a special, rather than an everyday, occasion.
The traditional (and shameless) approach used by advertisers–to exploit maternal guilt–has become irrelevant. Mothers are quickly discarding the idea that dinner has to be “perfect.” They no longer think they must plan, shop, prepare and serve the meal or else it isn’t really dinner at all.
The modern mother has to be more practical. She is willing to accept help, if that means putting the kind of meal on the table she feels good serving. This is where Boston Market fits in with its ingenious menu of quality, home-style food–from roast chicken to double-sauced meat loaf–served with fast food-like convenience.
Creative development at Goldberg Moser O’Neill, San Francisco, emphasized a key observation from our research: Women do not blame themselves, as they did in the past, for not spending as much time on their families. They know it’s not their fault, that their absence reflects vast social forces they can hardly be expected to change. Indeed, in one survey, 94 percent of working women felt valued by their families for fulfilling their responsibilities at home (which is higher than for stay-at-home mothers). There was no doubt mothers would reject attempts to portray them as unaware or inadequate.
The truth is, mothers are dealing with the issue now. The advertising was designed to acknowledge their ingenuity, effort and successes. The role of Boston Market would not be to educate or enlighten mothers, but to be their allies in their efforts to get their families around the dinner table.
Trey Hall, VP, Advertising
Bill McDonald, Chief Marketing Officer
Liz Allen, Dir., Marketing
Michael Murphy, Account Planner
Terry Rietta, Art Dir.
Paul Carek, Copywriter
Mike Moser, Creative Dir.
Brian O’Neill, Creative Dir.
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