Reaching Beyond 'Bad Mom' and 'Super Mom' Stereotypes

Marketers and the media love to label moms — Gen X moms, millennial moms, boomerang moms, Gen X moms raising young children like millennial moms, helicopter moms, tiger moms, attachment moms and, my new favorite, snowplow moms (guilty as charged). 

With the National Retail Federation expecting back-to-school spending to reach $83.6 billion this year, you can bet that targeting these moms in some way, shape or form will be part of the marketing strategy for CPG brands, big and small, during this all-important back-to-school (BTS) time. 

It starts with the fact that we’re moms, and we need a lot of stuff to get ready for back-to-school, no doubt. We need juice boxes, granola bars, sideline snacks and lunch box favorites. We need cool-kid clothes, uniform pants and the latest Under Armour cleats. We need yoga pants, wine subscriptions and Tide pods. 

So we come in all types of parenting shapes and sizes, and we need all types of products, but brands seem to put us into two categories: “super moms” and “bad moms.” Brands do this as a way to break through the clutter. They show us what we aspire to be on our best day — super mom — and what we succumb to on our worst — bad mom.



As a social marketer for challenger brands, I get it, but the truth is that 90%  of the time we aren’t either of those moms. We’re just regular moms doing the best we can, and most of the time we’re doing pretty well. So what is missing that brands can tap into to get recognized during that 90% of the time without having to resort to one of these two extremes?

Two words: JOYFUL MOM. Brands are forgetting the sheer joy of being a mom with all the triumphs and temper tantrums. Joy is a key ingredient that is missing from our attitudes and approach to moms. As mentioned above, we are either shown as super moms, where brands can play to our sappy emotions, like Pampers’ Midnight Mother’s Day campaign, or we are shown as bad moms who are full of snark and sass, like Kraft’s Swear Like a Mother campaign.

But, what I really want to be is a joyful mom. Heck, I want to be a joyful person. Brands are missing the opportunity to target moms during the time where we are actually doing ok and getting it done. CEB Iconoculture Consumer Insights recently identified trends around values like curiosity, purpose and relaxation. Joy is at the heart of these values. So brands can forget about tugging too hard at heart strings and lay off the sarcastic banter, and instead return to a joyful existence. 

While I don’t feel any brands are quite capturing the concept of joyful mom, some are getting close, like Honest Company’s The Personal Stylist spot or Yoplait’s You’ve Got This, Mom On! Campaign. My hope is BTS 2018 is the year of the joyful mom.  

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