Seeking an Emotional Response to the Anxieties of Parenthood

Mother’s Day ads showcase how non-retailers fit into the holiday narrative

How are brands approaching the trials and tribulations of parenthood? There may be no better barometer than the plethora of ads that come out around Mother’s Day.

Every year, thousands of Mother’s Day ads tug at our heartstrings to encourage gift-giving. But this year, a number of non-retail brands jumped on Mother’s Day mania too. Touching campaigns looked at the bumpy journey of parenthood and reminded us that there are no instruction manuals for many of life’s difficult events.

For marketers, the ads were a nice reminder that even non-retail brands can have a place in the conversation about celebrating motherhood.

For example, Genomind, a genetic testing company that assists clinicians in optimizing treatment decisions for patients with a mental illness, focused its campaign on a family’s mental health journey. Told from the perspective of the child, the message revolves around thanking mom for the continuous support and love through the pain and hardships that come with mental illness.

Emotional ads like these capture the viewer’s attention and educate parents on solutions to difficult personal challenges.

Google also topped the chart with its “A Moment in Search” campaign. Google data reveals that searches for “how to help my child?” peak every night around 1 a.m. It’s a question that doesn’t age. From the tactical—how to help my baby crawl?— to the deeply personal—how to know if my child is making friends?—the brand harnessed the power of parents’ concern for their child to promote a sense of community among parents and encourage them to continue searching. The implication throughout was that Google Search will continue to be there to answer the myriad of questions along the way.

While much of the marketing surrounding Mother’s Day continues to focus on gushy, breakfast-in-bed households and the timeliness of flower purchases, it’s refreshing to see brands that take a leap to uncover the challenges of parenthood and offer support. These brands are looking to connect with the truths of parenting and the real reason behind Mother’s Day, which is to admire the challenges Moms face and how brands, communities and families can help them to succeed. This approach is used to show they are truly listening and making the effort to connect with niche audiences during a highly saturated marketing holiday.

These are some of the brands and ads that topped the Mother’s Day charts this year, according to the AcuityAds True Reach insights platform:

1. Swarovski | 2019 Mother’s Day Campaign
Views: 15,277,676

2. T.J. Maxx | Gifts For Every Mom
Views: 12,260,226

3. Portal From Facebook | Mother’s Day
Views: 11,741,935

4. ProFlowers | Celebrate Mother’s Day
Views: 8,156,146

5. 1-800 Flowers | Kids Choice for Mother’s Day
Views: 8,146,805

6. Olive Garden | For Mom’s Day. And Every Day.
Views: 7,423,743

7. Genomind | Dear Mom: A Story About a Family’s Mental Health Journey
Views: 7,010,920

8. 1-800 Flowers | Make Mom Feel Loved
Views: 6,046,072

9. Teleflora | Love Like a Mother
Views: 4,696,512

10. Google | Parenting 1:01: A Moment in Search
Views: 3,988,548

Seraj Bharwani is chief strategy officer at AcuityAds. He is responsible for consumer insights on cross-screen, digital and social media. A graduate of MIT Media Lab, Seraj has authored several refereed articles on emerging cross-screen audience behaviors critical to driving business results.