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Today's Moms Want Show-Not-Tell Answers

Studies show that a more mobile web has enabled deeper engagement through video within micro-moments of Mom’s day. Video allows brands to insert themselves in non-disruptive, contextual conversations, connecting with moms during the various stops on their journey. Their two key searches are “how-to” videos and “DIY” content, signaling that ongoing, quick-burst learning is highly valuable for them. Creating branded content that’s equal parts useful and informative (as opposed to simply “ads”) would spur more organic search and build “brand bonds” with moms.

That's Not The Way, Baby Dove.

A surefire way to get a new mom (or not-so-new mom, for that matter) passionate is to bring up the subject of breastfeeding. Should you or shouldn’t you? What if you can’t? For how long? Where do you do it? How do you handle it when you go back to work?

Not to mention, breastfeeding is hard. Any mom will tell you that getting a newborn to do such a seemingly natural thing as latch onto the most sensitive part of a boob — that has tripled to Dolly-Parton-ish proportions overnight — with a tiny, ravenous, mouth-clamp in order to, ya know, stay alive, is about as low-stress and pleasant as … there are no analogies. Maybe a piranha gnawing on a testicle?

Point being, unless you have experienced the frustration, the stress, the pain, the leaking, the approval, the disapproval, the side-glances, the stares, the desperate search for privacy, the eventual wonder, joy and blessed oxytocin that makes the whole experience worthwhile, you can’t relate to breastfeeding. And that’s okay.

But you probably shouldn’t be building an ad around it.

Even with the best intentions, Unilever UKs Baby Dove ad featuring breastfeeding was a miss on multiple fronts.

The ad poses that “75% of people say breastfeeding in public is fine. 25% say put them away. What’s your way?“ Um, FYI, Dove, “your way” doesn’t matter, because since 2010, it has been against the law in the UK to tell a woman she cannot breastfeed in public. So, on top of being insensitive, Dove didn’t do their research, or failed to take government policy into consideration. Strike one.

Another big issue. The tone-deaf nature of the content makes it apparent no breastfeeding moms were involved in the making or approving of this ad. Or if so, their voices weren’t heard. It’s no wonder over 50% of moms around the world feel misunderstood and misrepresented in ads. Because again, if you’ve ever had to juggle a desperately hangry baby, a breast that could out-squirt a Super Soaker, and the wandering eyes of confused and judgmental strangers, you would have never thrown this topic out for public vote. Strike two.

And finally, the products Dove was advertising (baby skin care) didn’t even directly relate to breastfeeding. Making it seem they co-opted this touchy subject just for press. Strike three.

This is all especially disappointing and surprising considering Dove’s recent history of insightful, powerful ads like the Campaign for Real Beauty. But it highlights the importance of weighing the real sensitivities and perspectives of your target, whomever that may be.

So run your ads featuring breastfeeding moms by breastfeeding moms! Run your single dad ads by single dads! Run your ads targeting 3-year-olds past … nobody! Please don’t target 3-year-olds. Just remember, no one is expecting you to be an expert on every target. But you are expected to make sure you’re engaging the people who ARE the experts. The target themselves.

BLOGChad KukahikoBLOG
AD/JUDICATED: Healthy Kid Food TV Spot Omits a Key Ingredient




Once upon a time, Annie’s Homegrown made a television commercial that looked like it climbed right out of my 3-year-old’s bedtime ritual of reading four books, drinking one hot chocolate, drinking one glass of water, 30 minutes of negotiating for another book, a semi-meltdown involving teeth brushing, more book negotiations, one more book, a song, another song, and finally the sweet sound of toddler snores. The four books (okay, five) is where Annie’s comes in: Super-cute animated illustrations and a bedtime story about happy kid foods.

This TV spot set out to give me all the good feelings of the glass of wine I pour right after putting those books on the shelf and patting myself on the back for another quasi-successful day as a working mom. And I’ll be honest — my kid is made of 50% Annie’s Fruit snacks, so I really wanted to like it.

But … I didn’t. Frankly, this spot ain’t got nothing on my Pinot Noir. In fact, it kind of made me feel, well, bad.

I’ll recap the narrative for you: According to Annie’s Homegrown, 30 years ago kids ate what was “yummy” and all the slacker MOMS out there “didn’t say no.” Dad was working, I presume, so he didn’t have a say — either way, he’s not mentioned in this commercial. Over the course of those 30 years, moms wised up and stopped letting their kids subsist on evil processed foods. All the junk food in all the land was super sad about it. And in a rare plot twist, Annie’s Homegrown pulled a metaphorical macaroni out of a metaphorical dark cave of processed ingredients and into a metaphorical garden that supposedly doesn’t contain red dye No. 1 — not their claim, but that’s my takeaway — and kids now got “kid food” again (of the organic variety).

YAY! A HAPPY ENDING! … almost.

Annie’s has saved the day for lots of tired parents, lots of times (myself included). But there is a key word missing from this commercial — Dad. “Parents” are only mentioned once in this spot, and the rest of the time, it’s on Mom. It’s Mom who is giving her kids bad food. Mom who takes the bad “kid food” away. And Mom who has to turn to Annie’s to solve the problem for her. But why is this exclusively a mom problem? Where is Dad? More often these days than a few decades ago, Dad is there, taking an active role in caring for his children — he might even care that his kiddos are eating organic macaroni. And while Mom is undoubtedly there too, she’s more often working outside the home, full-time, just like Dad.

Recent research from Pew says that parents are sharing their roles at home more often as the number of families with two parents working full-time continues to rise. Working moms (part-time and full-time) represent more than half of two-parent families in the U.S. Half! If you want to catch Mom’s ear and make moms feel supported, be inclusive of dads and encourage them to carry some of the burden of the “second shift”. If Annie’s really wants a happily-ever-after for the parents who buy their products (and the kids who eat them), adding the word “Dad” to the story would go a long way.


Mobile Mornings

Having a child leads to many lifestyle changes for parents, from decreases in “me” time to variations in spending habits. These changes are more drastic for new parents who are shifting their schedules to accommodate their new baby, working in early a.m. feedings and earlier mornings. This schedule change correlates to a shift in social-media time for new parents as “feeding time” — between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. — provides them with an opportunity to log in and catch up. Knowing that new parents are likely to be online far earlier than the general population gives brands a new window in which to target this audience with relevant content, in a time frame when other advertisers may not be as likely to be spending their money.

Breaking Out Of The Momeotypes

Modern moms are different than the ones you’ve seen on TV. 40% of moms are raising kids alone. 69.9% of moms work. And, for the first time, moms in their 30s are having more kids than those in their 20s.

So why do TV moms in 2017 look exactly the same as they always have? A lot has to do with longstanding stereotypes by both agencies and clients — the momeotypes.

As an advertising creative and mom, the momeotype hits me hard. How do we, as marketers, help to change society’s stereotypes of motherhood, families and women? How do we, as creatives, break out of our own preconceived notions?

Here are a few ideas.



It’s easy to write a traditional nuclear family into scripts. But why? Today, the family dynamic is changing. Only 19% of homes were made up of nuclear families in 2013, compared to 40% of homes in 1970. A script with a single parent, a divorced couple or LGBTQ+ parents isn’t a political stance — it’s a true reflection of the diversity of real American families.



Whenever you can, swap gender roles. 80% of moms say they like ads that show dads who are involved with parenting. It’s time to feature more dads preparing dinner, girls playing with trucks, or even Mom coming home from work to relieve Dad. How many ads show a dopey dad doing something idiotic while the mom rolls her eyes? Swapping gender roles in the media empowers dads too.



Let’s throw the casting net further than the size 2, 25-year-old white lady. That means looking past cyborg-perfect models to someone who actually resembles the mom across the street. It means making sure to cast without ageism and with ethnic diversity in mind.



Let’s create and champion content that celebrates real life. Real moms aren’t perfect, they don’t cook Instagram-ready dinners on a weeknight or dress business-casual at home. Sometimes the aspirational gets in the way of the relatable. Instead of giving moms an unrealistically idealized version of motherhood, let’s draw from human truths. Let’s talk to moms honestly. Let’s get real.



Let’s all open up a little.

Let’s take responsibility and make what we put out there count. It’s time to look at our own work as a way to change the media landscape and to shake the stereotypes we use as crutches.  

Let’s fight for work that connects with moms by drawing from human truths, not just traditional aspirations.

Let’s hire and promote more moms to diversify creative voices and industry thought leaders. That also means creating flexible environments so that all parents and caregivers can thrive in their roles at work and at home.

When you only have 30 seconds to tell a story, stereotypes become an easy sell. As marketers, let’s challenge ourselves to create advertising that reflects diverse family lives and nonconforming gender roles. Let’s challenge more clients to buck the momeotypes and reflect the world as it actually exists.

BLOGChad KukahikoBLOG
M2Moms Conference 2017

Join the founders of June Cleaver is Dead, as they present "It’s time to rethink your marketing and workplace" at the M2Moms conference in NYC on October 3rd. 

This provocative presentation will examine the intersection between marketing and motherhood across a variety of fronts. What ads clearly suffer from a lack of the mom perspective? What does walking the walk really mean when it comes to championing moms in the workplace? And what happens when you put a campaign into the world about a serious mom issue that needs a national spotlight? This 15-minute talk will not only make you rethink how you’re marketing to moms, but also the way you are attracting and retaining mom talent.

Get your tickets here.

BLOGelizabeth layBLOG
AD/JUDICATED: Yoplait's Mom On! TV Campaign


Judgment knows no bounds when it comes to motherhood. It’s piled on by friends, family, other moms and even strangers — because of course the random lady in the grocery line needs to remind mom that “breast milk is healthier” when she sees her cart stacked with formula. It’s a problem that Yoplait attacks head-on with their “Mom On” campaign. And while I can relate to the sentiment of their anthem TV spot “You’ve Got This, Mom On!”, the additional TV executions put my authenticity radar on high alert.

Overall, the campaign employs a heavy dose of sarcasm to give the proverbial middle finger to those who judge moms. Starting with, “You’ve Got This, Mom On!”, moms throw unapologetic shade at the “high and mighty” in scenarios they’ve been shamed for. The mom who breastfeeds in public, the working mom, the stay-at-home mom, the mom who uses formula, on and on — these are scenarios where many moms have felt judged. Even the product tie applies with a nod to moms being food-shamed for giving their kids what they like, regardless of the ingredients.


“You’ve Got This, Mom On!”


In addition to this well-executed TV spot, Yoplait carried the theme that “moms are over mom-shamers and don’t care what you think,” across additional TV spots. Although, these have a more overt product tie-in and lack the real-world insight that the TV campaign grew from.

“Oh Hush, It’s Just Yogurt”


In this commercial, Yoplait pokes fun at the judgment parents receive for letting their kids “run wild,” giving them “too much independence.” The attempt to connect “running wild” and raiding the fridge for yogurt feels like a stretch. If my kid is going to go crazy and raid the fridge, they are not reaching for yogurt. Also, when did giving your kids choices about the food they eat and encouraging independent thinking become something that is frowned upon?

Moms love it when brands stand for something more than just the product they are selling. When done well, it helps build brand preference and affinity. But making this connection can be challenging to do while retaining authenticity — which also matters to moms. This campaign started strong, based on a universal truth, but then fell into the gray as Yoplait tried to connect their product to something it wasn’t naturally tied to.


“Powerful Custard, Indeed”


The next commercial continues down this inauthentic path, with a confusing nod to online-mom-shaming. The scenario suggests that because this girl is eating Yoplait custard for breakfast that she’s set up for a life of high standards and disappointment. Then the mom makes a “wink, wink” comment about this being “powerful custard.” This silly scene is at odds with the powerful stance celebrated in “Mom On.” It trivializes the tough personal choices that moms have to make, like whether to work outside of the home or feed their baby formula, by putting all of these topics into the same conversation. Choosing to give your kids custard for breakfast hardly carries the same weight.

Brands need to be relevant to their audience. They need to resonate with consumers on a deeper level. And to do this, they also have to be consistent. Consistent in tone and authenticity. Yoplait started strong with “You’ve Got This, Mom On!” but the additional TV executions, while build on the same real mom insight: moms don’t want to be judged by other moms for their parenting choices, did not hit the same level of authenticity which watered down an otherwise powerful message.

Mom Seeking Mom

We all know getting attention from time-poor millennial moms is tough. Between handling kids, balancing work and planning meals, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest become quick escapes. However, more and more are swapping this social time for another platform — parenting communities. Searching for advice, tips and reassurance from a like-minded audience can provide more value than “pinning” or “liking.” As attention continues to shift from traditional social channels to more niche communities, brands need to rethink where they start conversations with millennial moms. Parenting communities provide an opportunity for brands to position themselves as thought leaders. Keep in mind though that one of the biggest markers on the millennial scorecard is authenticity. Brands that communicate successfully in this way won’t just be accepted, they’ll be championed.

iab, 2015