How to Advertise Thoughtfully on Mother’s Day

Happy Mother's Day from!

Mother’s Day, an internationally recognized occasion to honor the mothers in our lives, is also one of the most commercialized holidays in the world. Last year alone, US consumers spent $26.7 billion on Mother’s Day gifts, an increase of nearly $2 billion from the year prior.

According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) annual survey, more than 8 in 10 consumers planned to celebrate Mother’s Day in 2020–78% specifically said it was important to them, especially given the state of the pandemic. 

The most effective campaigns on Mother’s Day

Many people agree, emotion is one of the most powerful driver’s of Mother’s Day ad campaigns. As we wrote in a previous blog, attaching an emotional element to an advertisement contributes to long-term brand associations for viewers and TV advertisements manage to build an emotional connection with viewers that most online advertisements fail to replicate. 

At one time, these ads would have aired exclusively on TV, but now they can be cross-promoted and boosted by social media channels. 

For example, in 2019 Google released an ad campaign titled, “#HeyMom” to advertise the Google Nest Hub. The ad honored moms as the original source of information and support, and finished with the tagline “give your original helper a little help of her own.” 

Google followed this up by sharing the ad on its Twitter channel and encouraging users to reply with the #HeyMom to generate additional engagement with consumers–often replying and speaking directly to those who left comments. 

While traditional TV advertisements deliver the emotion and long-term association, online engagement can help convert those interested customers into buyers. An Edison Research survey from 2019 reported that 92% of moms in the US used social media, compared to 79% of the general population. Particularly during the pandemic, finding ways to encourage online visitors is paramount. 

That being said, shoppers still like to visit brick-and-mortar stores–but they like to multi-task. 84% of shoppers try to make the most out of their shopping run by visiting multiple retailers, which means that standalone businesses would do well to partner with other retailers to bundle Mother’s Day offerings. For example, florists, jewelers and home-good stores can join forces to cross-promote their products. 

“Between’s goal of optimizing offline advertising and Attributy’s focus on accurately tracking online campaigns and customer conversions, we are well aware of these two trends as they pertain to Mother’s Day,” said Andreas Eisermann, CEO of 

How to be sensitive on Mother’s Day

In any year, but particularly after more than a year of the pandemic, it is important for businesses to be sensitive on Mother’s Day. 

Already there has been a trend towards acknowledging the realities of motherhood, and focusing on real stories. Debbie Welch, Director of Data Science at Swift, acknowledged that brand communications have “gone away from a super polished, Instagram-perfect place. More and more people are showing the realities of what it means to be a mom–it’s messy, it’s imperfect, and it’s OK to mess up.” 

And brands are seeing rewards for this recognition. In 2019, Estee Lauder devoted 75% of its marketing budget to influencers in recognition that they were more effective with niche audiences than celebrities. In 2020 they went further, creating a blog, “Estee Stories” that included its own employees in a series called “Moms Know Best: The best beauty lessons we’ve learned from our moms and shared with our daughters.” 

Particularly in the pandemic, it has been important to acknowledge the difficulties of motherhood. With so many parents working from home and dealing with closed daycare centers, parents–and mothers in particular–are continuing to deal with an unusual situation that has increased stress and burnout. 

Indeed, DW reported that in a June 2020 study by Germany’s Federal Institute for Population Research, women reported high stress levels more often than men. And an October 2020 National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) confirmed that childcare is more often the responsibility of mothers.

“At commitment to strategic media planning also means a commitment to sensitivity and authenticity” said Andreas Eisermann, CEO of, “it’s important to recognize the realities of motherhood whenever you think about crafting a campaign for the holiday.” 

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Acknowledging loss on Mother’s Day

Other brands have gone even further. The online retailer emailed customers in February asking if they’d like to opt-out from Mother’s Day advertising content. Waitrose and Sainsbury’s followed suit

Bianca Neumann, the head of bereavement at the charity Sue Ryder, said it was a welcome move for those who may still be grieving, especially in a year where the pandemic has taken so many lives unexpectedly. 

Indeed, as companies become increasingly adept at micro-targeting ever more siloed demographics–it should be just as important to allow consumers to opt-out as it is to bring them in. 

As Elizabeth Entenman of Vox wrote in 2019, “There’s something insulting about the default assumption that everybody’s mother is alive and that they have a good relationship with her — especially for an industry that increasingly prides itself on the ability to precisely target audiences with relevant messaging.” 

“We worked with our technology and CRM teams to devise a way to kindly ask if our customers didn’t want to hear from us about Mother’s Day marketing and then opt them out of specific emails during the period,” said Sara Gordon, VP of Brand & Creative at UK based company Wild & Bloom. 

Don’t forget what Mother’s Day is about

At the end of the day, brands, marketers, and most importantly people shouldn’t forget that Mother’s Day begins and ends with Mothers–celebrating and honoring the mothers in our lives. 

“Mother’s Day is a time to honor a special individual who helped shape the people we are today,” said Katy Cipriano’s International Media Planner and Buyer, “I openly express my appreciation by creating hand-made, tangible gifts for all of the special women in my life who I proudly call role models. They deserve the best!” 

Indeed, there are plenty of mothers to celebrate and plenty of ways to celebrate them. To learn more about how celebrates their role models, keep an eye out for our upcoming Mother’s Day newsletter by subscribing here.