What's Wrong With This Picture? Mom's Not In It

Canadian food giant McCain turns shutterbugs into stars for a Mother's Day campaign

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Scroll through any mom’s photo collection and you’ll likely find hundreds of pictures of kids, partners and pets that capture everything from a family’s pivotal moments to daily occurrences.

But what’s often missing from those photos? Mom.

Given that the matriarch is usually the one snapping the pics, instead of showing up in them, Canadian food giant McCain wanted to turn the tables for a Mother’s Day campaign.

In the ad, the shutterbugs become the stars, with McCain and creative agency Rethink launching a program called “Put Mom in the Picture.”

The partners worked with photojournalist Krisanne Johnson, who shot candid images of four women with their children. Those pictures were later enlarged and displayed on gallery walls, with the women being invited to a private showing, though they had only vague details of what would be happening.

The campaign then documented their emotional responses to seeing themselves not relegated to behind-the-scenes status, for once. (It’s a good idea to grab a hankie before watching the video.)

“All reactions were 100% genuine,” Leia Rogers, executive creative director and national managing partner at Rethink, told Adweek. “While the surprise reveal added to the storytelling, it was also important that viewers—both moms and their families—took away something for themselves: a rallying cry to #putmominthepicture, something you don’t need an award-winning photojournalist to do.”

As part of the project, McCain and Rethink created a photo “tips and tricks” guide to make it easier for everyone to capture their moms on film, not so subtly nudging them to do so. And three families will win a professional photo session, valued at $2,000, via a giveaway on Instagram.

Moms are often missing from family photos because they’re the ones behind the cameras.

The partners were inspired to develop “Put Mom in the Picture” by research that found 84% of Canadian moms act as photographer for family snaps, yet 77% say they appear in less than half of the pictures, while 35% report they’re in none at all.

Georgia, a single mother, says in the campaign’s video that she appears in “maybe three out of 4 million pictures” of her three children, while a woman named Lisa shares that she has “the odd selfie” of her with her brood of five, but “having so many children, it’s busy.”

“A mom’s endless day-to-day efforts are all in service of bringing the family together,” Matt Kohler, managing director of Canada retail at McCain, said in a statement. “We wanted to find a way to meaningfully celebrate these moms.”

The campaign’s goal is to “make sure moms get the attention they deserve” and help McCain “cut through the clutter and connect with moms in a fresh and relatable way,” Rogers said.

For previous efforts on Mother’s Day and other times of the year, brands like Chatbooks and Dove have encouraged women to take their rightful place in front of the camera, no matter how “imperfect” the photos may be.

Rethink and McCain enlisted actor Jason Priestley as an ambassador for the campaign, along with Cat and Nat, content creators, best-selling authors and podcast hosts.

The hero ad for “Put Mom in the Picture” is running on connected TV, social and online video, with media buying handled by UM.

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