How Brands Can Participate in, and Excel at Mother's Day Festivities

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The best ways to join in on the holiday celebrating the mothers in our lives

Pandora Mother's Day Creative
Pandora Mother’s Day Creative

Nearly a week out, and marketers are already having a field day with Mother’s Day. They should, of course. Each holiday presents an opportunity to humanize a brand, few more so than a celebration of the world’s finest moms. As with most cultural events outside the confines of the business, marketers should take special care with communications around this special day.

Through a series of Q&A interviews, we tapped marketers on the annals of conduct when marketing against Mother’s Day, common pitfalls marketers should avoid, and whether marketing around the holiday is equally appropriate for all businesses.

What’s the best thing that marketers can do to keep Mother’s Day campaigns unique and fresh?

Marketers often take the fact that someone is a mother or has a mother as the only points of relevancy necessary to craft a Mother’s Day campaign. The fact is that to be relevant – which translates to being fresh and driving subsequent engagement – we need more than that. If we know so much about people, why do we send them all the same message? For relevant and engaging Mother’s Day campaigns, marketers must use more data points – some examples could be whether an individual lives across the country from her mom or the age of her children. – Jeff Hirsch ,CMO, SundaySky 

Moms are the Internet’s No. 1 fans. Busy mothers do everything online – from shopping to scheduling carpools to sharing family photos. Each of these interactions presents an opportunity for marketers to collect data and capitalize on moms’ interests to understand the types of products and services they’d most like to receive on their special day.  – Jan Vels Jensen, CMO, Cxense

The best way to keep Mother’s Day campaigns fresh is to look at how real people interact on Mother’s Day. They express love and adoration, and share their fondest memories. To consumers, the emotional aspect of the holiday is more important than the gift-giving aspect. Marketers shouldn’t just push products; you should ensure your campaigns tie into how your products make people feel. – Jeff Soriano, senior director of demand generation, Offerpop

Looking at the leading author for Mother’s Day social conversation in 2015, ESPN was able to tie their brand identity to the powerful emotional connection of the day by releasing a video of top MLB players expressing appreciation to their moms. Reminding your audiences of your brand in a subtle way is a good strategy, but attributing gratitude to mothers is the primary purpose of the message. – Benjamin Cockerell, director, global marketing, Crimson Hexagon

Are there any companies that should stay away from Mother’s Day campaigns?

Mother’s Day is all about appreciation. Anyone who doesn’t have a positive thing to say about parenting or motherhood may want to stay away from promotion around the holiday. In 2009, Katy Perry tweeted about her harsh frustrations with parents and children on Mother’s Day and it was shared again last year, affecting her personal brand in a negative way. –  Cockerell

The best way to keep Mother’s Day campaigns fresh is to look at how real people interact on Mother’s Day. They express love and adoration, and share their fondest memories. To consumers, the emotional aspect of the holiday is more important than the gift-giving aspect. Marketers shouldn’t just push products; you should ensure your campaigns tie into how your products make people feel. – Soriano

What should marketers stay away from when crafting their Mother’s Day campaigns?

Marketers should shy away from highly promotional campaigns that don’t fit the emotional aspect of Mother’s Day. People are tired of being targets for sales. They want to have engaging and fun experiences with brands that provide value and incite emotion into their lives. The days of the direct sell are over—today’s consumers want to be inspired. – Soriano

The majority of the social conversation that expressed a negative connotation around the Mother’s Day topic focused on those who had lost their mothers. Brands need to be sensitive in their campaign messaging and promotion to consider those who may have either lost or are apart from their mothers on the emotion-filled day. Knowing that this is a conversation driver on social media, brands have the chance to tailor campaigns to ensure an inclusive message. – Cockerell

Blanket statements and offers for every person. This is the quickest way to turn off customers, so while creating a Mother’s Day campaign, think about how you will target the campaign, not just to segments of people, but even deeper—to individual people. – Hirsch

Give me one specific example of an engaging Mother’s Day campaign. What problems did it solve? What was the strategy? Results?

We weren’t a part of this campaign, but I’m a fan of Procter & Gamble’s mother-focused campaigns. The “Thank you, Mom” campaigns surrounding the Olympics tug on our heartstrings and the brand has been equally successful using those same sentiments around Mother’s Day by giving credit to moms for their steadfast dedication to their children. The ads don’t overtly sell anything and they do a good job of creating an emotional connection with the viewer. – Hirsch

The ESPN campaign that focused on athletes giving back to their mothers on Mother’s Day really resonated with target audiences. In the spot, athletes took a second to thank their parents for their great successes, providing an emotional hook that related to the holiday while still tying back to the brand’s focus on sports. ESPN found the perfect connection between its brand identity and Mother’s Day, allowing it to come across as authentic and genuine to viewers. – Cockerell

Pandora recently launched an incredibly engaging campaign, called “#JustLikeMum,” which asked users to share their favorite family selfie for a chance to win a $ 500 Pandora shopping spree. This campaign was successful because it tied into the nostalgia driver of engagement and had a very appropriate incentive for the holiday. Ultimately, this campaign helped generate thousands of pieces of content, more than 20,000 unique views and was shared by hundreds of people in just a few short weeks. – Soriano

Give me three engagement drivers to infuse into a Mother’s Day campaign? How do each of these drive engagement?

Nostalgia: Nostalgia is powerful driver of consumer engagement, especially when it is geared around mothers and family. When creating Mother’s Day marketing campaigns, brands should focus on evoking childhood memories to help make an emotional impact.

Generosity: It’s easy to forget about the upcoming holidays with the hustle and bustle of life. But, it’s hard to forget the reason people give gifts: because of the love and appreciation they have for the recipient. Inciting this emotion is a surefire way to drive interaction.

Incentives: A little incentive can go a long way for getting people to engage with and be excited about a holiday. For example, consider giving away a special Mother’s Day prize to the person who shares the best throwback mom pic. By tying the incentive to the holiday, you are sure to increase engagement incredibly. – Soriano

Giveaways: You can’t go wrong with a good giveaway, no matter what the holiday. Brands can capitalize on the fact that consumers will inevitably go on last-minute gift searches and turn to the classic gifts of flowers, jewelry and spa days for their moms. Amazon capitalized on this opportunity by hosting a bouquet giveaway. This increased brand awareness around the holiday and drove consumer engagement.

Photo contests: There’s nothing more engaging than visuals. According to social data, the vast majority of Mother’s Day-related content that’s shared via social are videos and photos of family.

Hashtag campaigns: By promoting a specific hashtag along with instructions of what to share, consumers are encouraged to actively engage with a brand. For example, we’ve seen hashtags like #OnlyMomCan that encourages users to share things that no one can do quite as well as mom and #Mommism that engages consumers by asking them to share their mom’s favorite saying. – Cockerell

When should companies begin planning a Mother’s Day campaign? When should they put it in motion?

Looking at the social data surrounding the month leading up to Mother’s Day, the volume of conversation grows most rapidly during the two to three days before. This tells us that while sales-wise, you may want to launch a campaign a few weeks ahead of time, those messages may not fully resonate with consumers until directly before the holiday. – Cockerell

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