Brands know how to market to mums. Just delve into a couple of mum stereotypes portrayed in advertising over the decades (research by The Museum of Brands) and take your pick. From the ‘domestic obsessives’ who can't wait to try that new fabric softener, to the ‘fraught juggler’ unhappy working mum who is constantly on the treadmill of balancing never-ending demands of her work and family life, marketers seemingly had the path to marketing success with mums truly nailed down.
Yet, less than 1 in 5 UK mothers (19%) believe there are any examples of mums in advertising that they can relate to (Ipsos research). The writing on the wall is clear – brands just don’t get mums.
More than a label
The first step towards remedying this divide is to recognise that your target audience is more than just their ‘parent’ label. It’s easy to assume that becoming a mother is such an all-encompassing life stage moment that her world begins and ends with family. But you’d be ignoring her individual sense of self at your own peril.
2 in 3 younger millennial parents say they have continued their personal passions since having their child(ren), significantly higher than older parents. This is reflected in the content they consume – with 78% watching comedy videos and 59% sports/fitness video, ahead of 52% for parenting videos (Google/Ipsos).
Mott’s, a range of fruit snacks for young children, decided to take a funny jab at some of the biggest mum clichés with their spoof videos racking up over 6.6 million views.
Embrace the Imperfections
A whopping 64% of UK mums feel ‘enormous pressure to achieve perfection’, with 2 in 5 mums saying that social media intensifies these pressures (State of Modern Motherhood Report).
It is therefore incumbent on brands to be part of the solution and not the problem. Dove launched their Baby Dove range by addressing this head-on with a controversial ad earlier this year. It featured a woman who looked like a model (with what looked like airbrushed perfect, radiant features) holding a baby. The ad’s copy provoked a simple question – is there a perfect mum? Social media debate ensued about the campaign adding to pressure to be perfect, but a twist was later revealed.
It turned out the ‘perfect mum’ picture was not of a real person at all, but actually a composite of over 1,800 pictures of mums portrayed in media and advertising stitched together by AI. They championed the hashtag #realmums to promote more real mums being featured in media to normalise perceptions.
Although mums define themselves as being more than just mums, when it comes to making everyday purchase, mums want to make safe, popular, tried and tested choices. 71% cite the safety of a product as their top consideration for making everyday purchases, with 62% citing parent recommendations and good online reviews (State of Modern Motherhood UK Report). Providing this reassurance from brands is tricky – it can get too self-serving and rational quickly. The real challenge is garnering credibility in an engaging and emotional way. That was the approach Inkling took in our recent work with Birds Eye’s chicken. Our community analysis identified three key questions that needed to be addressed in order to build reassurance amongst mums:
- What’s in it and where does it come from?
- Is it healthy to feed to my child?
- What, beyond chips and beans, can I serve it with?
We developed Count Your Chickens, a multi-faceted content-led campaign designed to answer all these questions. Alongside myth-busting films reinforcing our message that there’s nothing nasty lurking inside Birds Eye chicken and nutritional comparisons demonstrating low levels or salt and saturated fat, we also brokered relationships with “real mum” influencers and a partnership with Mumsnet. And in the end, not only did we win a Mumsnet Rated badge to display across all packaging, but 93% of respondents said they’d continue to buy Birds Eye chicken.
a brief conclusion
We’ve said it before in our Knowledge Bombs, and we’ll say it again: the only way to create earned media campaigns that deliver results is to know your audience. Lazy stereotypes and broad-brush assumptions lead to inauthentic communications, and inauthentic communications don’t create value exchange between brands and their communities.