Johnson's Baby Embraces the 'Other Mother' in a Touching Tribute Combatting Bias

New work from BBDO Bangkok makes loving space for moms who shirk tradition

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By now, many of us understand that there is no one-size-fits-all image that represents all of motherhood, having moved beyond the societal pressures that dictate every single detail to make way for a more empathetic understanding of parenting. Still, in certain spaces continue to uphold the prototypical characteristics of a mother—straight, cisgender, and perfectly coiffed with bottomless energy and time, just to start—making those who exist outside of those very narrow boxes feel unwelcome or even unworthy of the “mom” title.

But a new, emotional ad from Johnson’s Baby, created in collaboration with BBDO Bangkok, aims to embrace “other mothers” with an intimate celebration that honors them just as they are.

The work is part of the brand’s #HeartOfAMom campaign and was timed to Thailand’s Mother’s Day, which is Aug. 12.

“August is a month where every brand tries to launch a tearjerker film about mothers. So, instead of just making another ad like that, we wanted to make something that would truly inspire action, creating tension around ‘The Other Mother,’ somebody who’s socially excluded and has never experienced Mother’s Day. We hope we can change Mother’s Day to be a day for every mother,” said Thasorn Boonyanate, CCO of BBDO Bangkok, in a statement.

Johnson’s Baby/BBDO Bangkok

The heart of it

In the short film directed by Duangtawan Sirikoon, a group of real mothers share some of their insecurities relating to motherhood. Each story explores how the outside world perceives them due to their intersecting identities, whether they’re trans, gay, working class or simply have a few visible tattoos.

Then, the brand threw these moms a special celebration of appreciation, allowing their children to assure them that they are phenomenal, deeply loved parents via heartfelt testimonials.

“Johnson’s Baby has a strong belief that motherhood should be fundamentally characterized by a mother’s heart with pure love for her children, not by social norms that we have adhered to,” said Chutamas Ngamjitkul, senior marketing manager at Johnson & Johnson Consumer Thailand. “On this occasion, Johnson’s Baby would like to emphasize its commitment to staying with all mothers without gender discrimination as part of the #HeartOfAMom. Because every mother’s heart will do everything to ensure that their children grow up happily in their own way.”

The campaign originally began in print, on the cover of the region’s most popular newspaper. The image reflected a traditional Thai Mother’s Day celebration featuring three mothers, one of which identified as gay and shirked visual stereotypes. The ad asked a simple question: “Which mom can celebrate Mother’s Day?”

The work spread far—even reaching a few local news channels—and sparked a debate so potent that the brand decided to follow it up with the film.

“We started by looking for mothers who did not fit the socially prevalent gender-based stereotype of motherhood and invited them to join our Johnson’s Baby Mother’s Day event, where they were surprised with a video of their child interviewed about how they feel about their mother,” said Boonyanate.

Both the brand and the agency hope that the platform will encourage a more equitable perception of motherhood, one that is inclusive of all genders, sexual identities, economic classes and manners of self-expression.

Ngamjitkul concluded, “We can only achieve a better future if we truly keep the door open to all mothers, regardless of their gender identities and sexual orientations.”

You can view the film on Johnson’s Baby Thailand’s official YouTube channel.