For brands trying to navigate Mother’s Day, these can be emotionally turbulent waters at the best of times. Consumers may find the celebration challenging for a whole host of reasons, and it can be difficult to strike the right tone across the board. Factor in the current Covid-19 situation, and things get even trickier – how can we reconcile an event that is fundamentally about togetherness at a time when we’re being encouraged to practice social distancing?

The truth is, there’s no magic formula for getting Mother’s Day ‘right’ with consumers, but here are three suggestions that might be worth considering:

Consult consumers on what they do (or don’t) want to receive: in 2014, Eric Meyer identified a phenomenon he called ‘Inadvertent Algorithmic Cruelty’ – this is when brands unwittingly inflict emotional hurt by drawing attention to areas of personal pain. Interflora is an example of a brand that has made efforts to avoid this, asking consumers upfront if they would rather not receive communications about Mother’s Day. Empowering consumers through engagement on these issues allows brands to speak with humanity and empathy.

Recognise the value of virtual proximity: there’s never been a broader array of technologies and platforms available that allow us to communicate with one another. Social distancing and self-isolation pose an obvious challenge to physical proximity, but rather than dwelling on the negatives, could brands emphasise the positive potential of what we do have available? Services such as Amazon’s Echo Show foreground their ‘straight out of the box’ simplicity, particular suited to those who might be intimidated by traditional tech brands, allowing family members to communicate with grandparents who might otherwise be out of reach.

Think outside the box on representation: branding and advertising have often fallen back on traditional tropes, and not without reason – it’s a quick and effective way of conveying a message. However, especially when it comes to targeting Millennial and Gen-Z consumers, it’s important for brands to recognise that definitions of motherhood are evolving. MAC cosmetics 2020 Mother’s Day campaign takes a step in this direction, exhorting us to ‘honour all the people you love Like A Mum’. Mothers, grandmothers – and those we love like a mum – come in all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and familial arrangements, and brands that can reflect this can disrupt the traditional codes of the category.

In what is certain to be a challenging Mother’s Day for the whole country, and the wider world, brands have an even greater responsibility and opportunity to help us show how much we love each other.    


Emily Porter-Salmon, Associate Director

Mother Knows Best: But do brands know how to best navigate Mother's Day 2020?