These questions have been brought to the fore recently thanks to two very different ads from Procter & Gamble. In the first commercial, a general P&G branding spot, moms are depicted as unsung heroines who nurture and support Olympic athletes across the globe. The piece is straightforward, sweet, and tear inducing.
In the second spot, for Old Spice, moms are shown to be singing stalkers who follow their sons around on dates. It’s odd, funny, and cringe inducing.
So which is the better approach? As AdAge notes, the data tells a mixed story. The Old Spice ad initially garnered more and shares according to Unruly. However, it also had more negative feedback, especially from women.
On the other hand, the Olympics spot took longer to build an audience but had more views and shares. It also had more positive feedback, but inspired fewer online conversations.
Overall, the numbers show that both ads were successful in accomplishing their goals. The Olympics spot reached a wide audience of moms by tapping into positive emotions, thereby inspiring affinity for a broad range of P&G products. The Old Spice ad pulled off the tricky task of appealing to both teen boys and their moms by taking a more edgy approach.
In many ways the ads highlight an important paradox about marketing to moms: they have many of the same experiences but are also very different.
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As eMarketer found in a study last year, moms as a group exhibit some of the same consumer behaviors, in particular an increasing reliance on online shopping and a feeling of not having enough time to sift through an avalanche of information. However, the study also found moms lead “lives…far more varied now than in past generations.”
Holly Pavlinka, in her 10 Commandments of Marketing to Moms, put it another way: “Don’t stereotype and lump us into a singular ‘mom’ bucket or you’ll miss the mark every time.”
Ultimately, brands should keep that in mind when marketing to moms. There is clearly a power in appealing to the shared experience of motherhood—as the P&G Olympics spot shows—but it is also vitally important to remember that moms are by no means all the same.
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