Procter & Gamble is back to celebrating moms, in time for their big day.
The packaged-goods giant has released a beautifully crafted four-minute video looking at the life of Eunice Kennedy Shriver—and the subject of motherhood—through the eyes of her daughter, Maria Shriver. In some sense, the emphasis on a celebrity runs the opposite direction of the brand's hugely successful, Emmy-winning "Best Job" spot, which focused on more global aspects of motherhood (an appropriate tack for its venue, the Olympics).
Putting the spotlight on a specific mother works well here, though, in large part because the brand and agency Wieden + Kennedy picked the right mother. Eunice Shriver is already embedded in the American mythology as a champion—and symbol—of fierce and convention-breaking compassion. And while being born a Kennedy certainly didn't hurt her mission, she still dedicated herself to a form of public service despite her privilege—a tradition in keeping with the family mantle. In other words, she's a worthy role model for mothers of all stripes, and also, for human beings. (P&G is also celebrating Mother’s Day with #MomsWisdom, a social campaign in which W+K illustrates crowdsourced bits of generic motherly advice).
P&G is very much aware, almost self-consciously so, of Eunice Shriver's iconic—and iconoclastic value—with Maria Shriver offering up lines like, "She really was the mother of the Special Olympics." Other sound bites of the interview-style ad—which is titled “The Gift My Mother Gave Me”—take a somewhat broader approach in thanking moms. "Your mother isn't just a chauffeur,” says Shriver. “Your mother isn't just somebody who does your laundry."
Whether leveraging—even subtly—the value of Eunice Shriver's legacy to help sell more Tide crosses the line into the distastefully mercenary may be worth asking. On the other hand, the ethos behind her life’s work, and an appreciation of the sacrifices all mothers make, are certainly messages that deserve amplification—and the brand deserves credit for adding to the volume.