Brands Apply Super Bowl Know-How To Mother's Day

Mother’s Day is a minor holiday. Some might call it a “Hallmark holiday.” But it is universal --not restricted by religion or nationality. If you have a mother, you celebrate Mother’s Day.

This is very valuable for advertisers. While Mother’s Day is not a titanic advertising event like the Super Bowl, this year brands proved it could drive viewership and earned media.

Last year, Mother’s Day ads garnered just 8.6 million views. In 2014, viewership of Mother’s Day campaigns reached nearly 40 million views. That’s an increase of more than 450% year over year.

Surprisingly, these views weren’t just driven by campaigns from beauty, retail, or baby product brands. Food and beverage brands, like Coca Cola and Starbucks, got in on the action. Ford and Chevrolet released campaigns honoring Mom. Even the NBA, WWE, Google, Facebook, and the US Government used video to say thank you to moms everywhere.

A large group of brands have always advertised around Mother’s Day, but why did the viewership around the holiday increase so much in the past year? Is it as simple as the addition of so many more campaigns, or are brands doing something different this year?

While there was an increase in the number of promotions, brands also used a new strategy: Taking a page from the Super Bowl, brands pre-seeded their Mother’s Day campaigns further in advance of the May 11holiday than in previous years.

In 2013, the earliest that brands released Mother’s Day campaigns was April 26, just five days prior to the holiday. This year, brands started releasing campaigns as early as April 14, nearly a month before Mother’s Day.

The campaign that was released on April 14, Cardstore and American Greetings’ “World’s Toughest Job,” was, in fact, the most-viewed campaign of the holiday. It’s garnered 22.8 million views.

As we’ve seen year after year in the Super Bowl, those brands that pre-seed their content before the day of the event tend to experience higher levels of viewership over the same periods of time. The idea is that brands can capitalize or create buzz around the event in the lead-up, when people are getting excited about it (in the case of the Super Bowl) or planning for it (in the case of Mother’s Day).

Of course, it’s not pre-seeding alone that drives viewership. There have to be stories that inspire people to watch and share the content. As we saw in the Super Bowl this year, emotional content really engages people. That is an advantage for a holiday that is all about the person who brought you in to the world and raised you.

While traditional stories of heartwarming mom-appreciation make up the bulk of the campaigns this year, the storytelling in these campaigns has evolved. “World’s Toughest Job” is a perfect example of telling a common story of appreciation, with an uncommon device: a stunt.

Because of this pre-seeding and the emotional connection that Mother’s Day campaigns make with consumers, we’ve seen Mother’s Day take the lead in viewership among the minor holidays this year. Its nearly 40 million views handily beat out April Fools’ Day (30.9 million views) and Valentine’s Day (29.5 million views).

Will Mother’s Day be able to hold that title with Father’s Day approaching? Traditionally, Father’s Day messaging is less about heartfelt tributes and more about comedy. But so is the Super Bowl. If marketers are able to apply the same Super Bowl lessons that they did for Mother’s Day content, will we see the same growth for promotions around the June holiday? Check back for our results next month.

1 comment about "Brands Apply Super Bowl Know-How To Mother's Day".
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  1. Mike Bloxham from Magid, May 15, 2014 at 5:45 p.m.

    Thanks for this Mallory - great piece with some really interesting data-led insights. I'd perceived an increase in Mother's Day-related marketing but would never have guessed it was so marked.

    One has to ponder the extent to which P&G's campaign based around the London 2012 Olympics ("Proud Sponsor of Moms") and its apparent success influenced other brands to up their commitment to this kind of Mom-centric messaging.

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