Save the Children’s ‘Child Mother’s Day’ Site Shines Light on Girls Forced Into Motherhood

JWT campaign raises awareness and funds

It’s a sad fact: Many mothers in the world today are really just scared, desperate kids themselves, struggling against impossible odds to grow up healthy and happy along with their children.

Save the Children estimates that 2.5 million underage girls give birth against their will each year. And every seven seconds, a girl under 15 is forced into marriage.

To raise awareness and funds for the cause, J. Walter Thompson New York developed a “Child Mother’s Day” campaign that mimics traditional gifting sites.

None of the merchandise at is actually for sale. Rather, all items are “priced” at $5.99—the requested donation amount, roughly the cost of a typical Mother’s Day card, or some other small gift of appreciation—to drive home the point that a little money can mean a lot to adolescent moms trapped in despair and poverty.

According to the copy, “For the price of a box of chocolates, you can give children everywhere a fresh start and access to healthy food.”

An on-the-go handbag (again, not really available) is described as “an easy way to carry her few worldly possessions,” plus “it can also double as a diaper bag.” Ultimately, the $5.99 donation can “help give children a safe place to call home and the essentials they need for a healthy start.”

A blurb touting plush “Mr. Teddington Bear” seems achingly on point, and really puts the child-mother theme in sharp focus: “Soft and sweet, this teddy will be by her side through it all, from days caring for her children to nights spent hiding from her abusive husband who is four times her age. An added bonus: Her kids will love playing with it, too.”

The kicker: “For the price of a teddy bear, you can make a donation to Save the Children and help keep children protected from harm.”

Social elements drive users to the site, which will likely remain active after Sunday’s holiday.

“The idea came about two weeks ago,” JWT creative director Dominic Al-Samarraie tells AdFreak. “We weren’t thinking about Mother’s Day in particular, but looking at ways to draw attention to an often forgotten group of people. Even the phrase ‘child mothers’ immediately conjures harrowing images, so we wanted to take some of that shock factor and package it up in a way to inspire action.”

Ultimately, “in the run-up to Mother’s Day, we’re all constantly targeted with messaging from online retailers, and that definitely acted as inspiration,” Al-Samarraie says. “The chance to subvert that style of communication was interesting, and a lot of the impact of the site comes from some of the subtle details such as the ‘return policy,’ which educates you that in some parts of the world, when child mothers try to return to school after giving birth, they can be shunned by their community and not allowed back into the education system.”

Getting the tone right “was definitely tough,” Al-Samarraie adds. “You need to cut through the clutter and get the attention of people who are bombarded with countless messages about Mother’s Day, but do it in a way that really communicates how horrific life can be—while still being respectful to the harrowing stories of these young girls.”

Indeed, the vibe is urgent but restrained, and the ask was kept low for the broadest possible audience appeal.

“We’re hoping inspires action and donation from all types of donors … to do a small part in helping these children who have their own children get a chance at a brighter future,” Al-Samarraie says.

Client: Save the Children
Agency: J. Walter Thompson, New York
Chief Creative Officer: Brent Choi
Executive Creative Director: Leslie Ali
Creative Director: Dominic Al-Samarraie
Copywriter: Christina Pitsinos
Art Director: Claire Healy
Studio Photographer: Izzy Levine
Videographer: Justin Snow
Global Planning Directors: Jessica Strode, Marina Pen
Business Director: John Danbeck
Project Managers: Greg Lustberg, Anthony Melendez

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.