Mother's Day - Marketing Under the Microscope #1
Updated: Jun 29
Mother's Day Marketing
Content and infographic developed by the IT - Content Team
Every year, on the second Sunday of May, we come together to shower affection, flowers, cards and gifts on our mothers in celebration of what we know today as Mother’s Day. But how did this holiday come into existence, and how have companies around the world employed marketing around this day to their advantage? Read on to find out!
While there’s evidence of ancient Greeks and Romans holding celebrations to honour “mother goddesses”, our modern idea of Mother’s Day emerged in the US thanks to the efforts of Anna Jarvis, who started campaigning for the recognition of a day to celebrate the work of mothers, including her own, in 1905. Her mother had died the previous year and was a peace activist who cared for soldiers in the American Civil War. In 1914, it was recognised as an official holiday, cementing the holiday as we know it into our calendars.
Notable marketing campaigns
It wasn’t long before companies started capitalising on the success of the holiday, with the day soon becoming associated with giving cards, flowers, and other gifts, becoming one of the days with the highest amounts of consumer spending of the year. Here are just two of the many examples of successful marketing strategies centred around Mother’s Day.
The American company famous for producing greeting cards has experienced enormous success, in part thanks to the popularity of Mother’s Day, and in part thanks to its excellent marketing campaigns around the holiday. Hallmark’s advertisements have always focussed on emotional messaging and communication, playing on customers’ affection and sentimentality through their slogan “When you care enough to send the very best”. This is exemplified by the #PutYourHeartToPaper social media campaign, a series of eight video interviews where interviewees were asked to describe their love for their mother without saying the phrases “I love you” or “Thank you”. The deeper emotional message in this campaign has been met with online success, clearly engaging the attention of social media users and potential customers.
Some companies, like KFC, have taken the more humorous route, focussing the message of their advertisements on “fulfilling Mom’s fantasies” and the appeal of Colonel Sanders “taking care of dinner”. While these advertisements are controversial, it’s undeniable they’ve created enormous traction, and thus publicity for KFC, reaching at least several hundred thousand views each on YouTube and even sparking a new TikTok trend!
Given that every year on the second Sunday of May, it seems there’s a mad rush to buy gifts for our mums, it’s safe to say that marketing campaigns throughout history have been incredibly successful in maintaining the importance of Mother’s Day as a holiday for consumer spending. While this may not necessarily reflect its historical roots, it’s useful for us as marketing students to appreciate campaigns which have emerged and appreciate some funny ones which have come out of it!