Maa, Meri Maa!

22 Jan,2014


By Delshad Irani & Amit Bapna


There was a time a Hallmark card with Happy Mother’s Day scrawled on the front, and yes, “Thank You” on the inside, would have worked for Ma. Now advertisers are making every day Mother’s Day if commercials on the telly are anything to go by.


Hallmark just won’t cut it anymore. If one really appreciates the woman who spent laborious hours just to give you life,  the only way to show gratitude is this: Hire an award winning director, preferably Alejandro González Iñárritu, and Ludovico Einaudi to provide musical score, for a commercial shot on multiple continents to document candid everyday Mommy moments: Washing the battered jersey, making lunch, driving back and forth from school, swimming, skiing or boxing class.


But there’s a prize for all the hard work. If washed and chauffeured well enough, the best kid will be rewarded a gold medal at the next Olympic Games. Well, not you and I, of course. (We aren’t all made up of that special Olympian stuff, Ma.)


The film ‘Best Job’ and its follow up ‘Pick Them Back Up’, part of P&G’s global campaign ‘Thank You, Mom’, are two universally acclaimed commercial films. (See box.) Apart from single-handedly providing a sales-boost to tissue-paper manufacturers the world over, they have also revived the discussion on how advertisers speak to and communicate with women in their role as mothers.


Communication directed at mums has generally not been as exciting, or insightful as advertising aimed at men. Xavi Bech de Careda, chief strategy officer – TBWA\India attributes it to the concept of a ‘working woman’ who is financially independent being of a relatively recent vintage.


And so, advertisers turn on the mommy water-works one moment and unleash the tiger mom during the next ad break. According to Katherine Wintsch, founder & CEO, The Mom Complex (a mom-dedicated unit of the US based The Martin Agency), there are five, very common mistakes advertisers make in ads depicting moms: 1) She’s always happy.  Especially when cooking and cleaning. 2) Her children are obedient angels. 3) She loves wearing cardigans and capri pants. 4) Her wardrobe often matches the brand colours of the product she’s promoting. 5) She loves talking to the camera. We can see one or all of these in many mom related ads.


The supermodel mom, whose perfection is infuriating (say real moms) and the ma who knows-it-all. (We speak, fairly fondly, of Lalitaji’s samajdari still.) Then we have a heart-to-heart with the best-friend-mom whose emotion-detector is 100% accurate (take that, John Larson, inventor of the polygraph.) We even have moms who are the entertainment, but hardly ever the entertained.


Interestingly, marketers have only recently begun to valorise motherhood. They’ve unleashed a horde of campaigns that celebrate the ma in every woman. But the biggest mistake advertisers make is idealising motherhood. Karthi Marshan, executive VP & head – group marketing, Kotak Mahindra warns in celebrating the woman’s role as mom, we frequently diminish her identity as a person, and risk focusing on the stereotype of dishwasher, cook, laundry lady, support system, et al.


Not just that, making a mom the “hero” of an ad, is a dangerous proposition. A global study by The Mom Complex across 17 countries, revealed the number one emotion all moms share in common is doubt, more specifically self-doubt.


Says Manjari Upadhye, VP – marketing, Cocoa Beverages, Mondelez International, “Advertisers more often than not, bring out her worst fears and anxieties. However, they have also started portraying a more real picture of today’s mom and that is a good start.”


The very idea of parenthood for mothers has changed. It extends beyond just wiping away their child’s snot and fears and obsessing about their height and weight. The growing power of the working mom makes her an even more relevant decision maker in brand choices for the family, and this presents a whole new set of opportunities and challenges.


Says Mr Marshan, “Agencies and advertisers are still navigating the greenfield cum minefield this evolution presents. We get it wrong as often as we get it right. While phenomenal upsides exist in recognising the vital role a mother plays, risks abound as well.”


There are, however, rich dividends for agencies and brands which can manage to tap into the unique struggle, humour and emotion that come with motherhood. Millennial mothers, especially, have no trouble admitting they’re human and make mistakes, hence the popularity of the Twitter hashtag #MomFail.


It’s also becoming more of a team sport. According to a study by McCann’s Truth Central “88% of moms say that when they hear an interesting idea or piece of advice about being a parent they want to share it, and 37% say they want to share it with as many parents as possible.”


Besides who says moms don’t have a sense of humour? The goal with marketing to moms should be to raise the bar of creativity and “stop playing it so straight. It’s boring,” says Wintsch. In fact, in another study conducted by the agency, moms went out of their way to say how much they love the advertising from Budweiser. All directed at men and none features a mom.


“The concept of the mother and the father stereotypes is breaking down fast. Just as phones have become smartphones, moms have also become smart moms,” says Joseph George, CEO, Lowe Lintas, the agency behind an ad for jewellery brand Tanishq which features a young mother’s wedding. He says, “It is the time of the youth and the time of moms – these are the two segments that will rule the market.”


However, as George also points out, in this celebration of mothers the fathers are the ones who are being marginalised now, “Moms are the all-rounders and dads are ending up as either the batsman or the bowler only.” Alright, we’ll say it. “Thank you, Dad.”



British Airways ‘A Ticket To Visit Mum’

In the business of making Moms proud and happy was a BA web-film, although not necessarily targeting mothers directly  (Spoiler alert). The airline promises to fly a Mom-made meal to her son who moved to the US when he was 17. They fail to deliver on that promise. But BA gives the son a ticket to visit his mum instead. Says Christopher Fordyce, regional commercial manager – South Asia, British Airways, it isn’t enough to focus on functionality anymore. Brands must connect on an emotional plain. The core message was that BA’s the airline which connects people around the world. And to be able to witness a mother reunited with her son, there’s not a better way to get the emotions flying and tears flowing.


Bournvita’s ‘Taiyyaari Ki Jeet’

In 2013, Bournvita released two commercials, Runner and Boxer. According to Mondelez’s Upadhye. the brief to the agency, Ogilvy, and the campaign objective was to bring out the progressive parent in every mother who has left the sidelines and is taking charge of inculcating good habits, in order to prepare the child for all eventualities in life. The Runner TVC featuring an athlete mom training her young son has already crossed a million views on YouTube. The Boxer, on the other hand, features a working-mother providing for and supporting her daughter to excel in a male dominated sport. It has clocked 315,000 views in three weeks.


P&G’s ‘Thank You, Mom’

The P&G ‘Thank You, Mom’ campaign, the biggest in the company’s 175-year history, recognises and celebrates the moms behind the athletes. It’s part of P&G’s worldwide sponsorship deal with the International Olympic Committee (IOC). According to a company spokesperson, the insight for their most recent spot ‘Pick Them Back Up’ for the Sochi Winter Olympics came from research P&G did with real moms all over the world. “From talking to moms, we learned a few things all moms share – they want to teach their kids resiliency and determination. To quote one mom from the UK – ‘Teach your child to chase a dream but not to fear failure,’ While we seek to delight as many people as we can, for this campaign, we wanted to take time to specially thank moms as P&G is, largely, in the business of helping moms. So we see our sponsorship of the Olympic Games through a special lens – moms.” Digital drove program engagement and lifts in brand social-media buzz volume; there were nearly 74,000,000 views of digital assets. The first film ‘Best Job’ drove 21,681,704 views across more than 200 countries.


Google’s ‘Here’s To The Moms’

Google paid tribute to Mummies everywhere with a film covering all those moments when mom was there for her child, from the first ultrasound to coming out of the closet.


Fiat’s ‘The Motherhood’

A genuine rap on motherhood complete with “babes, bitches and hoes,” also known as her kids, her dogs and a hose in the back seat. This video, released for the car maker’s UK market, has well over 4 million views on YouTube. It’s real, hilarious and very graphic. Here’s a sample. “Wear a nursing bra, like a bulletproof vest. Work versus home is a mental combination, with my elbows deep in infant defecation. I’m a school-run-taker, fairy-cake-baker, dealmaker, orgasm-faker, rattle-shaker, cheesegrater, nighttime waker. I’m a placater, peacemaker.”

Source:The Economic Times

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Post a Comment 

One response to “Maa, Meri Maa!”

  1. Bipin Pandya says:

    1. How did Akshya Trithya become such a big deal?
    2. Why are Indian advertisements showing less and
    less of saree clad women?
    3. What is the origin of the word ‘puja’?

    Questions like these are worth discussing, ain’t they? So fin some solutions in For God’s Sake, a book by Ambi Parameswaran that talks about religiosity in advertising!

    You can also like the page here –

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