This Copywriter’s Ad About Motherhood Was So Touching, It’s Now a Children Book

Laurenne Sala's unlikely journey into print

In January 2014, Boba, a small Colorado company that makes baby carriers and accessories, posted a video online—created by Futuristic Films—that would prove to be one of the most popular ads ever made about motherhood.

Titled "You Made Me a Mother," it featured a voiceover that was a visual poem of various moms each talking to their child—recounting their journey together from pregnancy through the first few years of their child's life.

The poem went like this:

I felt you. You were a pea. Then a lemon. Then an eggplant. I followed advice. I read 12 books. I quit coffee.
Could you tell I was scared?
I talked to you, sang to you … I wasn't ready.
But then you were here. Ten toes. Eight pounds. Love. Big fat love.
I held you. I fed you. I realized that I would spend my life doing things to make you happy—and that that would make me happy.
And then there are the times I want to give up. You've made me rethink my sanity. You've made me want to fall on my mother's feet and tell her that I get it.
But then you smile, and you say my name—and you grab my hand with those little fingers.
We're growing. Together. We are seeing the world like it's new. I will open my heart, and love will rain down all over you. You'll giggle, and I'll do it all over again. And we will walk hand in hand. Until you let go.
I made you, but you made me a mother.

The spot melted hearts everywhere, but that was just the beginning of the journey for Laurenne Sala, the freelancer copywriter who wrote it. The ad was picked up by the national media and eventually got the attention of HarperCollins, which offered Sala a book deal to turn "You Made Me a Mother" into a story for children.

"I had slaved in cubicles in ad agencies all over L.A., staying late at night for years at David&Goliath, Deutsch, 72, etc.—trying to write a book that would help me leave those cubicles. And then this came about!" Sala tells AdFreak.

Laurenne Sala

HarperCollins got Robin Preiss Glasser to do the illustrations. The book was published in March and is doing well on Amazon. Sala, who only tweaked a couple of lines for the book (the word "scared" was changed to "nervous," for example), just wrapped up a two-month tour that included reading the book at lots of schools.

AdFreak chatted by phone with Sala on Tuesday to find out, among other things, how a woman who isn't a mother herself managed to capture the essence of motherhood so indelibly.

"It was a total side job. I got it while I was working at Beats by Dre," she says of the Boba project. "There's not many female freelancers, so anytime someone has a mom thing or a makeup thing or a tampon thing, they call me. And I always take it."

Not being a mom herself, research was key to understanding the mother-child dynamic.

"I interviewed a bunch of moms in my family to make sure I got the voice right," Sala says. "My mom was really honest with me, and she had a lot to say about how it feels when a baby comes into the world. I talked to a male cousin, and he helped me too. And then I put myself in a mother's shoes, and I just wrote the poem. I think this was just my second draft. It was one of those projects where we didn't have much time!"

Imagining oneself as another is the job of the copywriter, though, Sala says.

"My first job was writing commercials for Jack in the Box, and I'm vegetarian. So, I had to pretend I was a construction worker on a lunch break all the time," she says. "I've done gaming commercials, so I've had to pretend I'm really into games, which I hate. Years of that made it easy to really imagine myself as someone else. Plus, I've been to psychology school, so empathy is something I practice often."

Sala thinks the poem connects largely because it gives moms credit for all the work they have to do to be able to give all the love they can.

"I think it's the part where we talk about how much moms give up for their kids," she says. "There's that line about 'I realized that I would spend my life doing things to make you happy,' which I got from my own mom. She was a single mom, and she definitely made tons and tons of sacrifices to make me happy. I don't think moms get a lot of credit for that. They're just trying to make things work, and so when they see themselves get credit, I think it's very helpful for them. I don't really know, but I'm guessing."

If her experience reading the book at schools is any indication, kids aren't blind to that sacrifice either.

"It's so cute when I ask kids if they think their parents do things to make them happy," she says. "They all put their two hands in the air. They all really know that their parents do that. And I think a lot of times moms aren't really sure if their kids get that, but they do. It's pretty cool."

So, why should people spend $15.99 (or $11.21 on Amazon!) to buy a book version of an ad?

"Because it's a reminder of love," Sala says. "Like I've been saying in schools, sometimes we get busy. We're rushing to work. And this is a reminder. Moms can sit down with their kids and read this book and they can cry, and it's a real reminder of how much they love their kids. Kids get to feel loved, moms get to feel recognized, and it's a big reminder that we're all in this together, and family is pretty cool."

Oh, and one more reason, too—HarperCollins has told Sala that if this book does well, she gets to write the dad version next.