It's almost time to celebrate moms here in the USA! Sunday, May 8, is the time to plan your breakfasts in bed, your flower deliveries and your sweet notes telling mom just how much she means to you. And whether you feel like the day is an authentic celebration of motherhood, or more of a greeting card holiday, chances are the moms in your life are looking forward to some gratitude either way.
Brands know that, too. We're already beginning to see ads pop us reminding us to buy jewelry or make that brunch reservation. All too often, though, Mother's Day content -- especially when it comes to food content -- awkwardly toes the line between "feminine" preferences and irksome stereotypes.
Just last year, I can remember seeing an ad for the "perfect" Mother's Day recipe. It was, you guessed it, a salad with slices of grapefruit on top that promised less than 400 calories for mom (meaning she can "cheat" with an extra mimosa)! All I could think was, when I become a mom can I still love cheeseburgers and beer or do I have to hop on the mimosa train?
That's not to say that some moms wouldn't love salads and mimosas on their annual day of celebration, but it did make me wonder: when it comes to food content, what are the dos and don'ts for getting Mother's Day right? Here are some thoughts that will help differentiate your Mother's Day content from the norm.
- Don't use mom clichés.
- Do celebrate all kinds of moms.
In thinking about how "moms" are associated with food, I decided to do a quick Google image search for "mom food." The results are pictured in the image above, and they present a startlingly homogenous view of motherhood. Not only are moms seen as exclusively caucasian, but their perfect hair and stress-free smiles perpetuate myths that mom + food = cooking for a family.
Sure, I cooked with my mom like the kids in these photos on some special occasions. But my mom (and the moms I know) are hard-working women who provide nutritious dinners and enjoy food in more ways than one. Where's the mom I remember, eating potato chips on the couch while watching Wheel of Fortune? Where's my boyfriend's mom, a Korean-American woman, making kimchi in her kitchen? Where's my grandmother, who hated cooking, but loved going out for an ice cream cone? Don't be the brand that uses the cliché.
- Don't assume that all moms will be present for Mother's Day.
- Do acknowledge that Mother's Day can mean many things to many people.
For most advertisers, Mother's Day looks pretty similar. A mom and her kids get together for a meal and the laughs ensue. The reality of Mother's Day looks incredibly different for many families, however. Many moms will need to work on Mother's Day, others may have illnesses which prevent them from being present, and so many people will grieve a parent lost on this potentially triggering day. Similarly, many moms may be away from their children or grieving a lost child. Many other women, who desperately want to become moms but are unable to, may find this day to be one of the toughest of the year.
Rather than using your advertising spend to suggest the same-old, decide instead on committing to the message that "motherhood" looks incredibly different for every woman. A brand that gets that idea will win big with their Mother's Day messaging.
As a company that sees an overwhelmingly female audience, most of whom fall into the mom category, we can assert that the most successful content we see falls into various niche categories. Moms love food content that is challenging, diverse, and not-your-average-casserole.
- Don't make sexist suggestions.
- Do recognize that "mothers" have infinite tastes and preferences.
Like I mentioned above: some moms like salad and mimosas, some moms like burgers and beer. Many moms like both! So, how do you create content that screams "mom!" but doesn't rely on weird stereotypes? Talk to real moms.
User-generated content can do wonders for improving sales and retaining customers by giving your brand social proof. Encourage moms to tag themselves using your product on Instagram, for example. The results you'll see will represent a diverse and authentic view of motherhood and will save your team the task of trying to understand how to present your product in a real rather than imaginary way.
- Do segment and target thoughtfully.
- Don't forget what you're really selling.
As you plan your Mother's Day content, and with the knowledge we've laid out thus far, you should remember that moms fall into tons of different demographic segments. Young moms living in New York City have wildly different concerns and values than middle-aged moms in the suburbs of Chicago. Naturally, your messaging will be dynamic based on the many segments of moms that you identify as users of your product.
That said, on Mother's Day, you're probably not targeting moms. You're probably targeting sons, daughters, and significant others. Your "mom" segments might be a good starting point, but what you really need to do is convince non-moms that you're what the mom in their lives wants.
How should you do this? Some feelings around motherhood are universal, so let that inform your messaging across the board. Just like Ford doesn't sell you strictly cars in their ads--they sell freedom and the American dream--your food product should align with instinctual feelings people identify with their own mothers. Think nostalgia and significance.