Dana Macke
Dana is the Associate Director of the Lifestyles & Leisure team at Mintel, with a focus on family research. Her background in marketing strategy helps her generate insights based on market developments, consumer data, and cultural trends.

Fueled by social movements like #MeToo, women are seeking empowerment and moms are no exception. Moms may be giving and kind, but moms are also tough, demanding and human. And moms are ready to stop apologizing for these attributes.

Brands that want to connect with moms around Mother’s Day should look to embrace the unapologetic mom – a mom who is full of love, but also flawed and is #SorryNotSorry about that.

This year’s stand-out Mother’s Day ad celebrating the unapologetic mom comes from Teleflora. This Los Angeles-based floral network has a legacy of powerful advertising for Mother’s Day. Last year’s “Love Makes a Mom” ad and the 2017 “One Tough Mother” campaign were moving and highly emotional videos. This year, Teleflora did a 180 with a hilarious spot called “Love Like a Mother.” The video celebrates everyone who “loves like a mother” by bringing their support and their tough love to coworkers, friends and even strangers. While the commercial is played for laughs, it also shows the straightforward, no-nonsense mom in a positive light. It makes no apologies for tough moms reminding their kids to eat their dinner and go to bed on time.

Another way advertisers are portraying unapologetic moms this year is by recognizing that women have full lives outside of child rearing. According to Mintel research on marketing to moms, half of moms say if they had the time and money, they would spend it reconnecting with their personal passions, hobbies and interests. Peloton’s 15 second spot, “The Gift of Peloton” is a quick and effective example that shows moms as women first. The ad focuses on a woman engrossed in her Peloton class. It is only as they widen the shot that the full context of the ad becomes clear. The woman is a new mom, getting in her workout while a baby sleeps in a bassinet at her feet. The only text that’s called out is the user testimonial “I’ve never felt this strong before.” It doesn’t explicitly reference the convenience of at-home fitness for moms, or moms’ efforts to get back into shape after having kids. It simply shows a fit woman, who also happens to be a mom.

Facebook is using a group of celebrity moms to promote its Portal hardware for Mother’s Day. The Portal ad shows the moms of Neil Patrick Harris, Dwayne Johnson, Snoop Dogg and others demanding that their kids do a better job of keeping in touch. Venus and Serena Williams’ mom complains, “just because she’s the GOAT doesn’t mean she can’t take the time to call.” Again, this spot portrays moms who aren’t afraid to ask for what they want – even if it’s just a video chat with their kids.

Overall, the tone has shifted away from sappy and sentimental. However, there are still big name Mother’s Day campaigns taking the more traditional approach. A notable example is the Hallmark commercial, “When You #CareEnough to Cherish Every Moment.” This ad warns moms to enjoy every moment of having small children because, “there will be a day when you hold them on your hip for the very last time.” The commercial and video title suggests to moms that if they do not love every moment of parenting, they’re going to regret it.

While the ad hits on some lovely parenting moments, it seems out of step with the challenges that modern moms are facing. One unforeseen challenge is the guilt moms feel when they don’t love every single moment that parenting brings. As explored in Slate’s parenting advice column Care and Feeding, if moms don’t love changing diapers or they dread the bedtime routine, it doesn’t mean they are bad moms. The Hallmark ad relentlessly spotlights the “enjoy it while it lasts” sentiment in a way that might make moms with young kids groan.

As a whole, 2019 is a year when women are becoming more bold in asking for what they want. This year’s Mother’s Day campaigns show that advertisers are taking note and updating their portrayal of moms accordingly.