05.10.20175 min read

Are You My Mother?: Mother's Day Marketing that Works

In 2015, the jewelry firm Pandora launched "The Unique Connection," a Mother’s Day video that became a viral hit. It took one of the hardest tasks on Earth—making something utterly memorable and shareable amid the marketing avalanche of one of America’s most important retail holidays—and nailed it. (Haven’t seen it? Watch now):

What is Pandora’s secret—and how can your brand do something just as successful?

It’s worth taking the time to strategize this. Creating a compelling Mother’s Day campaign makes good business sense. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers are planning on spending an average of $186.39 each in 2017—that’s significantly up from last year’s $172.22. And it’s not just people buying things for their mothers—they’re buying gifts for wives, sisters, daughters, grandmothers, and friends. So how can you create a campaign that will resonate with this huge cross-section of humanity?

Start from the right mindset

First, take a moment to think deeply about what this holiday is about and how you can inject your brand into the conversation—so that you’re not just capitalizing on a commercial onslaught but instead adding something genuinely meaningful. The Pandora video offers some compelling lessons in this.

The video opens in a monochrome industrial space as a line-up of women emerges. Before them are their children, who are being blindfolded one-by-one. A singer-songwriter croons with a tune that hits your heart straight away, and as the first girl ventures blindly forth, arms waving out front, the camera swings over to the line-up of mothers.

For us viewers, it’s instantly obvious who the mother is because she’s the only one frowning. And that frown carries an enormous emotional punch—it reveals the intimate connection that binds mother and child. As the girl feels her way down the line-up, smelling hair and grabbing the jewelry-draped hands of each woman, she finds her own mother. We dare you not to cry.

The reason why this video has been watched by nearly 19 million people after two years is because it hits a fundamental truth: Mother’s Day is a celebration of the connection that exists between mother and child, and how you know your mom better than most humans on the planet. The video hits just the right sentimental note.

As you brainstorm ideas with your marketing team, tune into the key human dynamics powering Mother’s Day and work outwards from there: What is it that people love so much about this day, and how does our brand fit into that celebration? What could we point out, in our campaign, that will help to trigger the love people feel for their mothers?

Involve your audience with user-generated content

If everyone on Earth has had a mother at some point in their lives, then it makes enormous sense to involve them by inspiring user-generated content. American Kennel Club, for example, invited their followers to upload their favorite photos of mom dogs; the cookware company Cuisinart hosted a “Memories with Mom” recipe contest. Be sure to create these campaigns well in advance and optimize them.

Create your own Mother’s Day hashtag to promote the campaign, and send it out into the ether. Encourage people to upload something with the hashtag, and offer prizes for the most heartwarming or entertaining submissions.

Keep your brand in the background

Pandora’s video works so well because it doesn’t push the sale—the jewelry is present in the ad, but it's subtle. Yet, by being placed in the background, the jewelry gains the positive, nostalgic association of the mother-child connection, without coming across as overly self-promotional. Find ways to deliver value without overtly pushing products: The stationary brand Paperchase, for instance, sells dozens of Mother’s Day cards—but to promote the holiday, they created a tutorial about how to create your own Mother’s Day heart through “quilling.” Of course, many of the craft products involved in the project are available at the shop as well.

Be authentic

You can tune into the power of Mother’s Day in small but thoughtful ways. If you’re a restaurant or bar owner, order a bunch of red roses and hand these out to any mother who walks in the door that day. If you offer yoga classes, create a special “Bring a Mom for Free” promotion and encourage your yogis to practice with their mother.

By focusing on benefiting those mothers and making them feel honored, you’re bringing the focus back to the spirit of the day—and by doing that, your audience will trust you, feel close to you, and ultimately buy from you.

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