On Mother's Day

If you’re avoiding the internet because you’re worried about Game of Thrones spoilers, let us be your Facebook feed, your Google+ Hangouts Notification, your Twitter @, and your random comment on Youtube: It’s Mother’s Day! Get her a gift! Get her a gift now! Not that gift! No, not that gift either! AAAAAAA!
the muppets panic GIF
Now that you’re sufficiently panic-buying everything you can see that looks remotely like a Gift A Mother Would Want, here are our favourite Mother’s Day ads, because our copywriter already bought her mother a present and has been laughing about the Chickendales for the last ten minutes.

Mother’s Day and the Internet

But before we get into the whole ads review thing, it’s time for Internet Education Information Hour, where we look at how the Internet (all capitals, if you own at least one tinfoil hat and are afraid of microwaves) has changed the way humanity interacts and reacts to things like holidays.
Social media and holiday integration is something relatively recent, and you’ll be excused for wondering what the hell the Internet has to do with sending your mother a card and eating all leftovers for one day only because it’s Her Day and she made sure you grew up into a half-sensible adult.
The thing is, a lot of what we do today is tied intrinsically to social media, whether you want to or not, and Mother’s Day is a Big Deal on social media. On Facebook alone in 2017, there were over 65M mentions of Mother’s Day through posts, stickers, and dedications; 1BN photos were uploaded on Mother’s Day alone.
It is the 3rd biggest retail holiday in the year.
Also, it’s a holiday where people spend a lot of money, and we’re talking in the billions, people. Also, because it usually falls on the Worst Possible Day for a Holiday, about 30% of people end up panic-shopping last minute when all that’s left in the store is paisley-print cake mixers and the kind of rainbow-vomit floral arrangement that sears technicolour into every blink.
It’s kind of a big deal, advertising-wise.
To put it into further context, Mother’s Day expenditures were only at $15.73BN in 2007, and despite the fact that 2007 feels like a destination only a time traveller could love, only 12 years later, that expenditure has ballooned to $24.95BN.
Partly, that’s due to the rise of social media: as Facebook, Google, and Instagram grow increasingly more involved in our livelihood, the rise of Money Spent on Things keep escalating. Partly, it’s due to the fact that advertising has come a long, long way since 2007, and brands now have to work harder to make an impression in the internet miasma.

The Chickendales

And these brands make an impression.
Let’s start with the Chickendales.
KFC has had a really interesting selection of adverts recently: personally, we think the ‘FKC’ campaign, after a UK KFC ran out of chicken, is a fantastic piece of crisis-induced advertising, and we also quite like the digital influencer Colonel Sanders.
This is equally balls-off-the-wall.

You’ll be forgiven for not realising that this is an advertisement pairing KFC and Cinnabon, because there is no mention of Cinnabon anywhere, even if you weren’t distracted by the incongruity of sending your mother a Chippendale dancer.
There’s also a microsite where you can enter your mother’s name and location (if you’re outside the US, the only place your mother can be is The Galaxy), and get a customised video. Besides that, it’s a fun advert, even if it kind of fails on the advertising front by mentioning nowhere that there is a promotional item offered by KFC and Cinnabon – admit it, you’re definitely going to think about the Chickendales the next time you’re stuck in 12,000 years of traffic in Qormi and next to a KFC.

An Iron That Costs More Than Some Cars

Here’s a story from our copywriter’s childhood.
Her mother likes crafts and homeware. Her father does not like to buy her crafts and homeware, and also has about 20,000 things on the go and a tendency to forget holidays that aren’t immediately preceded by a decorated fake tree dripping in enough lights to single handedly drain a powerstation. Every Mother’s Day tends to be accompanied by a sense of mild panic and ‘why did I leave it so late?’ hubris.
Flowers are usually the gift that follows.
Enter this advert.

Shopping mall Oeschle in Peru raised the prices of products that moms invariably seem to get on Mother’s Day: irons, vacuum, cleaners, blenders. They invited some mums in to talk about the worst present they received, and then did what any rational person would do, and gave them a blow torch and an axe to destroy the shit out of those gifts.
The look of complete confusion and terror on the man trying to buy some flowers, only to realise a bouquet costs $5,000 dollars, is worth the entire advert. Also, shout out to that mother destroying a bathroom scale with a sledgehammer, something that every company should institute as stress relief, and after work trips abroad to the Land Where Everything is Cooked in Butter.
Quite a lot of the adverts coming out on Mother’s Day have a tendency to push the mother to the background: mother as creator of life, mother as a periphery figure, mother as homebody who only cooks and cleans. As our brand manager likes to say, without the battles our mothers fought, the world would be entirely different.
Oeschle goes the opposite way: the advert is about mothers, and not mothers as anything but themselves. It’s effective, and funny, and it delivers a huge message about looking at mothers outside of the label of ‘mother’, and getting them things they’ll enjoy. Social media agreed – the advert generated over 4.5 million media impressions, half of which were probably our copywriter playing that one scene of the woman destroying a garden gnome with a baseball bat.

A Bouquet of Memories

And now for something completely different:

The more traditional of the ads, Sainsbury’s ran a campaign using their bouquets to shed light on the incredibly hard job that is raising semi-functioning humans. Each bouquet has different flowers picked out about what mothers do in the course of motherhood: whether it’s kissing grimy skinned knees or letting their kids play their music in the car.
Best of all, these were pulled from the public. Sainsbury’s asked people to write in positive memories of their mums on social media, and the messages ran in these ads. It pales a little next to Oeschle’s ‘Mom Doesn’t Want It’ campaign, or the fever-dream Chickendales, but it’s sweet, and it’s simple, and it’s loving, without being cloying.


Getting advertising language right is tricky, especially in Today’s Internet when everyone has an opinion and it’s most definitely the right one, thank you very much. Too much emotion, and the advert comes off as cloying; not enough, and it’s frozen and cold. How do you link an emotional advert with a product, like, say, an electrolyte drink? How are you going to pull off a fun advert that feels authentic and fun, without forgetting what the ad’s ultimate goal is: to sell products for Mother’s Day?
Add in the way the internet is fragmenting and the constantly evolving rules of communication, and you can see now why ads like this kind of flop at the gate:

Ten, or even five years ago, that probably would’ve done a lot better. Now, consumers are asking questions: why is the woman sick? Why does she need to die? What does Gatorade have to do with selling soft-drinks? If it’s a Mother’s Day ad, why is the mother on the edge of the action, name-dropped and referenced in brackets?
Consumers want more, and for the most part, companies want to give it to them. Ads cost money, and bad ads cost more money, and good ads cost money and bring more money in; the mathematics is simple. The component parts, though? Not so simple, not with the way that communication is constantly and continuously adapting, not with the lens of Critical Thinking aimed at every piece of media available, not with people on social media becoming smarter and less likely to swallow advertising language at first glance.
You’ve got to be smarter. You’ve got to stay up to date.
Fortunately, though, there’s help if you need it.

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