All mums are the same. We all fit one stereotype and one cookie cutter model. Right? Well, no, not really. In fact, as I look around my local playgroup, I’d say we are all totally different. So why do brands feel they can talk to us like we all want and need the same things?
On one hand we have Aptamil saying its formula milk can help “lay the foundations for [our kids’] future”, while on the other, the same brand makes you read a ‘breast is best’ disclaimer before you can access the site. See? Even the brand identity for one company is sending mixed messages. No wonder it’s confusing to parents – parents who are dealing with sleep deprivation, a newborn, and a complete lifestyle change.
Yes ladies, women make 85% of all the purchasing decisions in the household and, according to Kat Gordon, founder and Creative Director of Maternal Instinct, females control $13 trillion worth of consumer spending, out of the world’s $18.4 trillion.
Speaking to Inc, she said while 71% of females feel brands only try to sell cleaning and beauty products to them, “women make the majority of purchase decisions for almost every product category in the marketplace”. That means cars, gadgets and other technological gizmos too.
It’s clear to see then that brands shouldn’t just want to appeal to mums, but need to!
Missing the trick
However, as much as 75% of mothers say advertisers miss the trick completely when marketing to them, showing them images of parenthood that seem to be completely unrealistic.
I also think ads like this Heinz Beans one is rather unrealistic. The two brothers, who had spent the whole ad fighting, are suddenly best friends, with the older one putting extra beans on his little brother’s plate. Now, the fighting part I’m fully on board with. But what dinnertime is spent like that?
Reality check – The brothers continue to fight. They either want to steal some food from each other, or don’t want to eat anything at all – leaving mother to pull out everything from the kitchen cupboards to find something to feed them, much to no effect. The beans most definitely end up on the floor, certainly all over the children, and, of course, you. The mum in the advert is wearing white. Big mistake.
Okay, so not everyone wants to see the chaotic side of motherhood every time they turn on their telly. But marketers have to, in some way, portray some sense of reality. Otherwise, mums simply won’t relate to them, and if they can’t relate, they won’t buy into the product.
Where is it going wrong?
- Male creatives
Where do marketers get this lovely image of motherhood from? Maybe it’s because they come home after the children have been fed and the kitchen cleaned? Indeed, without wanting to come across all feminist, it does seem that the bigwigs in the marketing world are predominantly male – and therein lies one of the problems. They’re trying to appeal to a demographic they know very little about.
Roisin Donnelly, brand director, Northern Europe, at Procter & Gamble spoke at the Mumsnet’s Mumstock conference, saying, “there aren’t enough creatives that are mums”.
In fact, only 3% of creative directors are women, and Ms Donnelly added: “If we changed this, we would do a better job.”
- The supermum
But I don’t want to just lay the blame on male marketers. It’s partly our fault too.
Most of us, whether we realise it or not, paint the picture of being a supermum. We may joke about our ‘terrible kids’ but then turn up to parties with homemade cookies and a big smile on our faces.
I like to think that I do paint a more truthful picture to my friends and family in person, but it’s hard to know whether this honesty ever shows through these pictures of ‘supermum-dom’. Are we all being dishonest and making out like motherhood is a walk in the park?
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard someone say, “Isn’t it good when they nap, so you can have a cup of tea and a biscuit?”. I literally have never done this. Ever. I’m not sure the people asking have either. But we all nod and say, “Yeah”, and ask the question of others too.
I guess it boils down to mums wanting to look like they can do it all – especially in front of other mums. None of us want it to look like we’re struggling.
Maybe these pretend messages of ‘supermum’ are being fed back to the marketing professionals (myself not included) and that’s what they think this parenting lark is all about. Who knows? But perhaps we’re doing a disservice to ourselves by pretending it’s all as lovely as it appears on nappy adverts.
What appeals to me?
I started this blog by saying all mums are different, so I don’t want to end by saying “and this is what we all want”.
We are all unique, and maybe, these perfect mums with relaxed, quiet, playful, don’t-make-a-mess children really exist, but I certainly don’t know any.
1) Laughing at ourselves
What I like is honesty, reality and humour. I like it when I look at adverts and think, “That’s exactly what it’s like”. It’s not sugar-coated, it’s not perfect, but it’s real. And, at times, it's ridiculously funny.
This is my favourite mum advert, as it makes me laugh whenever I see it. Full of jargon, buzz words and stories only a mum of young children would understand, this ad immediately opens doors into the ‘mum clique’, as if Fiat is actually one of us – episiotomy stiches and all.
Okay, I know it’s just clever advertising, but it works, and I for one have shared it on my social media channels to get giggles out of my mummy friends. And that’s the aim – use it as content marketing potential to spread the word among mummies, right? After all, we control the vast majority of our family’s spending, don’t we?
2) Tapping into mummy emotions
I find that these ads – no matter how chaotic life may seem on the commercial – also pluck at my heart strings. And, I guess, when brands can do that, they’ve hit the nail on the head.
Even when I was pregnant, this SMA advert would make me shed a tear. The way the baby flings puree at their mum, or the buggy breaks, or the lady finds a duck in the bath when she is finally trying to relax, is all so real. Or maybe it’s just the tagline at the end that gets me: “You’re doing great.”
All mums are simply trying their best, and maybe just the recognition from a big name brand that we may all be different, we may not get it right all the time, but we’re still doing a good job is as much as most mums need.
I think SMA got it spot on with that one. So maybe there’s a lesson here to be learned by marketers? Don’t pretend to know what motherhood is like. Go out, speak to us and we’ll tell you. It’s not all roses – or the sweet scent of homemade cookies – but, we wouldn’t change it for the world.
Now sum that up in an advert!
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