AD/JUDICATED: Advertising to Moms: A Handy Rating Guide



Advertising directed at moms has really grown and evolved over the last decade. There’s a lot of great, funny, poignant, powerful stuff out there now. But there’s still a lot of forced, misdirected, insulting, stereotypical stuff, too. So we’ve developed a simple 1-5 rating system which we’ll be using throughout this section we’re calling AD/JUDICATED.


1. Offensive 

2. Ignorable

3. Cute 

4. Share-Worthy  

5. Motivating 


To help illustrate this system, we’ve attached these numbers to items that we, as moms, frequently find laying around the house. We bet you find them too! Unless, you don’t because you’re perfect and your kids probably never hide half-eaten bananas under their beds.

In which case, we probably can’t be friends.



1. OFFENSIVE = Last month’s tuna (?) sandwich in a Ziploc bag.   

Ewww. These ads bring out a deep, sudden disgust or anger. They make assumptions or outdated generalizations about parenthood, talk down to moms, play on guilt, or take themselves too seriously.  


2. IGNORABLE = A child’s single, dirty sock.

Common, run of the mill. Pretty much ignorable. Ads that are basically a waste of the precious time you don’t have, not to mention the marketer’s dollars.


3. CUTE = Kiln-dried thingy holder.  

Thoughtful, sweet, even funny. You take the time to enjoy it, but you have to be reminded what it is, over and over. Is it for keys? Jewelry? OH! Soup? Okay, soup. These ads are the same. Nice, but need many, many repetitions to stick. 


4. SHARE-WORTHY = Inappropriate family portrait, in crayon.

This stuff hits home. It’s a truth you can relate to. Could be anything from parody to punch-you-in-the-gut emotional, this is more than an ad, it’s a mini mantra for your life. You want to share with friends and meet the people who made these things and hug them.


5. MOTIVATING = Permission slip. DUE YESTERDAY.

This is an ad that makes you act. Like, now. Sharing and online buzz are successful, but if an ad resonates in your motherhood regions, (your hearts and brains) AND makes you want to rush right out and buy a mattress/moisture wicking yoga pants/new power washer, then that’s a win all around.  


You’re probably thinking “Oh, the Old Tuna Fish-Permission Slip rating scale? I’ve seen it a thousand times!”  But the truth is, it’s all fairly subjective. One mom’s dirty sock is another mom’s boogers stuck on the headboard (so we’ve heard.) The main thing to consider is, how does an ad make you feel? 1. Offended   2. Nothing   3. Mildly Entertained   4. Understood   5. Motivated. 

The goal for advertisers should be 3's and above. Not always easy, but definitely worth striving for.

Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got some random smells to identify and permissions slips to sign.