Hold On To Your Heartstrings, Here Come The Mother’s Day Ads

If you’re the sort of person who forgets Mother’s Day every year, then online advertising has you covered. Advertising loves celebrating mums almost as much as it does sporting events and the festive season – and not without good reason.

From brands as diverse as Procter & Gamble and Dove, plenty of mom-themed adverts have seen massive sharing success in recent years, not to mention inspiring more than a few appreciative phone calls home.

With US Mother’s Day coming up this Sunday (yes, it really is that close), this year’s crop of mom ads look no less ready to tug heartstrings.

This year we have already seen some sterling Mum appreciation from Knorr and jewellery brand Pandora, in the form of spots ‘Flavour of Home’ and ‘The Unique Connection’ respectively. In a fit of surprising serendipity, these two ads play on a similar theme: the unmistakable, nostalgic associations children have with their mothers.

Pandora’s effort, a simple but effective stunt in the Dove mould, finds blindfolded children picking out their mum from a group of women. It may look a little bit like a surreal police line-up, but the stripped-back messaging means the ad has been shared over 200,000 times since release.

Meanwhile, ‘Flavour of Home’ is a rather more high-concept affair, charting the long-distance connection between Carmen, who trains huskies in Finland, and her mother, who lives at home in Portsmouth, England.

Directed with beautiful restraint by documentarian Nanette Burnstein, the ad culminates in an unsuspecting Carmen being served dinner, only to realize she’s eating her mother’s unmistakable home cooking. An international sharing hit, across both YouTube and Facebook Video, ‘Flavour of Home’ uses food to convey the same idea: that unmistakable quality which makes Mom mom.

As you can tell from these spots, Mother’s Day advertising tends to be highly sentimental. As with so-called ‘Dadvertising’, brands often put explicit focus on family, warmth and feelings of nostalgia.

Online videos with positive emotional outlooks tend to share better than negative spots, and so this goes some way to explaining the popularity of this sort of advertisement. Even humorous ads like CardStore’s classic ‘World’s Toughest Job’ tap into a collective sense of joy and appreciation, whether you have your own kids or just remember what a nightmare you were to raise.

But that doesn’t mean parental adverts succeed on the basis of being manipulative. On the contrary, there are as many innovative, exciting Mother’s Day adverts as there are moms (well, probably not, but you get the idea).

Case in point, Wells Fargo’s beautiful spot finds a same-sex couple teaching themselves sign language in order to communicate with the child they’ll soon adopt. It’s an incredibly simple short, ornamented with a gentle piano score, that pushes certain boundaries while managing to be a charming portrayal of stepping into parenthood.

Similarly, several recent ads have attempted to use the popularity of Mum-based advertising to draw attention to political and social causes. ‘Mum and Maids’, a controversial PSA by a Singapore-based not-for-profit, explores the culture of domestic help in the country by asking maids to answer questions about the children they look after. Cut together with interviews of those children’s mothers, the experiment reveals that 74% of ‘maids’ know more about these children than their parents do.

Produced to encourage Singapore families to give domestic workers their legal days off, the same humanitarian spirit dominates in UNICEF’s ‘A Tale of Two Mothers’. A narrative depiction of the ‘vaccination gap’ that persists between the richest and the poorest in society (particularly in LEDCs), the ad finds two mothers striving to procure vaccination for their children.

So while Americans organize flowers for Sunday, rest assured that this year is already offering a fine crop of (surprisingly political) ‘Mumverts’. So even if you can’t find a decent present, there’s always a YouTube link to remind Mum how much you care.