Getting Mom Moments Right

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, March 2, 2016

A mother’s life is a hard life sprinkled with little moments of joy – an unexpected giggle-fest with the kids, a glass of great wine, or the spouse handling your most hated chores. At least that’s marketers’ favorite new storyline, with ads that show “the ultimate mom moment” leaping like a majestic dolphin from the high-speed, low-sleep, kid-toting, thankless sea of mom life. 

“Brave New Moms,” a 2012 study by Yahoo! and Starcom MediaVest Group, found that across generations, age and countries, 84% of moms “believe that planning activities with their families is worth it as long as it leads to a special moment.” For marketers hoping to resonate with this audience, that sounds like a quick path to advertising that works. 

A few recent examples of brands indulging in this approach: 

  • Müller yogurt is sadly the only reliable moment in this mom’s life.
  • South African insurance company Dialdirect knows how precious your time is, just like this mom’s son who tackles all of the chores so mom can attend his school play.
  • This mom faces impending snowmageddon by stocking up on Campbell’s Soup (of course) and a bottle of wine (not for the kids).
  • Japanese software company Cybozu draws attention to the hardships of working moms with this mom’s fleeting moment of happiness amid being completely overwhelmed.



Great stuff, right? But – approach with caution. Earlier this year, a global study by Saatchi & Saatchi revealed that half of moms say marketers don’t understand them. And it gets worse: the moms surveyed said it’s as if marketers were talking to their mothers, not them. Ouch.

So, the universal “special mom moments” experience may be true, but are we telling these stories in a believable way that resonates with moms? 

I’ll start by saying that as the proud dad of five kids, I know these moments are hard-earned, and all the credit belongs to moms – not the yogurt, soup or insurance products she buys. This audience will take note – and not in a good way – when brands try to tell them otherwise.

If you’re going to affiliate your brand with “mom moments,” avoid falling flat with these tips: 

1. Dial down the drama. Portray your brand with honesty. Use stories that come from the experiences of real moms – and give them credit. Be aware that the tripwire is more sensitive than ever. Moms are swiping left on overdone Pinterest parties, too-perfect selfies and Beachbody testimonials. Moms filter fast past these exaggerations to stay level and true to their own expectations and realities.

2. Know moments are as diverse as mom. English or Spanish-speaking? Single or married? Working or at home? Realize there isn’t just one mom profile and expect not to be able to deliver a single, universally resonant moment in your advertising. Portray moments that come from the diversity of your audience.

3. Call out dads to do their part. P&G’s new #Sharetheload effort is a great example. Moms have proven they don’t need the help – but they know they deserve it. Marketers can honor moms by encouraging fathers to see their role to its full potential. 

The bottom line is moms cherish these special instants in time and know exactly the kind of dedication it takes to earn them. A brand trying to co-opt a mom moment needs to earn it or it may very well be looking at its last.

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