What goes into standout Mother’s Day marketing campaigns?

Source: TJX Cos. - “Remixed A Hit Single And Made A Music Video!!”
May 03, 2021

Mother’s Day campaigns tend to go for sentimental messages of love and gratitude — only rarely are they daring or subversive. That makes them hard to make memorable.

“Mother’s Day marketing paradoxically can be both easy and difficult for brands,” wrote MDG Advertising in a blog entry. “On one hand, the holiday has so many well-established traditions — flowers, brunches, family celebrations, etc. — that pulling together an acceptable, innocuous campaign is relatively simple. On the other hand, the flood of similar messaging makes it difficult to separate from the crowd.”

The following are some Mother’s Day executions this year from Dick’s Sporting Goods, TJX Cos. and Samsung that are gaining attention:

  • Dick’s SG’s “Mother’s Day: Keep Trying” (six million YouTube views) starts with a scene of Aimee Watters, executive director of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation, having a reassuring conversation with her son and encouraging him to be brave as he takes on a sport. She looks directly into the camera as if to share that comfort with everyone. The effort continues with a montage of other executive moms at Dick’s showing love and support in their own children’s daily lives.

  • Samsung’s “Make Mom Epic” campaign (3.1 million YouTube views) features many top social media content creators sharing moments with their moms and using Samsung’s Galaxy S21’s camera to show off their moms’ personalities. The video’s final scene in particular caught viewers’ attention — it features South Korean super group, BTS, delivering a “Happy Mother’s Day” message.

  • TJX’s “Mother’s Day: Perfect Gift” (7.6 million YouTube views) supports T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods and parodies the Roxette hit from the late eighties, “Listen To Your Heart.” Four women lampoon a cheesy eighties’ music video with over-dramatic gestures, somewhat off-key singing and funny takes on trends adopted during the pandemic, such as home cooking and pet adoption. 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Which of the three commercials shown in the article do you think is most effective? What advice do you have about coming up with Mother’s Day marketing and in-store messaging that resonates?

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"I love the emotional message that the Dick’s commercial showed but, in regards to product, I would have to say T.J. Maxx got it done."

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12 Comments on "What goes into standout Mother’s Day marketing campaigns?"

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Georganne Bender

This was a tough one. The Dick’s commercial touched my heart but it missed the mark as a Mother’s Day spot for me. I wish the spot had featured store associates or lower level employees. The execs made me think about how hard it was to make every game, to be there when my kids were little and I held a corporate exec level position and was expected to be at the office.

The Samsung spot was fun but there was so much going on I wonder if the Mothers’ Day message was blurred.

The T.J. Maxx spot is both funny and memorable. “Put it in your cart” is in-your-face retail. Still, it only mentions the TJX companies at the end so it’s easy to miss who the commercial is for. If you want customers to choose your store, help them out. It’s easy to put a logo in the corner.

Rich Kizer

OK, call me emotional, But Dick’s gets my vote hands down. I strongly believe that advertising’s goal is to create emotion and memories that position a spot top-of-mind with customers. Dick’s did it with this one!

Venky Ramesh

This year’s Mother’s Day will be a lot more special than any time in the past simply due to what everybody went through over the last 14 months. Many adults probably haven’t seen their moms in a while, even for Thanksgiving. The marketing campaigns this year need:

  1. to evoke those strong latent emotions in people;
  2. to remind them of the role their moms have played in their formative years, and;
  3. to move them to show their love and gratefulness.

Of the three ads, I found Dick’s ad the most effective on the first one.

However the T.J. Maxx/Marshall/HomeGoods ad did a fantastic job of appealing a call to action (number three) in a fun and engaging way.

Richard Hernandez
Richard Hernandez
Director, Main Street Markets
1 year 3 months ago

I love the emotional message that the Dick’s commercial showed but, in regards to product, I would have to say T.J. Maxx got it done – “put it in your cart” is catchy…

Dr. Stephen Needel

TJX wins for me, with Dick’s a close second. Both are very tied to their products (Samsung not so much). Dick’s hits the heart strings a bit, TJX has the humor.

Matthew Brogie
1 year 3 months ago

TJX is the big winner in my opinion. Spoofy, not too serious, put me in a good mood and made me want to go hunting around for “just the right thing.” When there is a specific event I like to see a very defined call to action, and the TJX ad nailed that! All of the ads were fantastic from a brand reinforcement perspective, but TJX is the one that will drive sales for the event more than the others.

Ryan Mathews

Commercially, I liked TJX. Philosophically, I really like the idea behind the Galaxy ad, making the idea of “Mom” a non-gender specific, non-familial dependent concept. But emotionally Dick’s wins. So since we’re talking about business, I guess my vote goes to TJX.

Mohamed Amer, PhD

Three commercials with three distinct approaches suggesting distinct audiences. Dick’s plays on traditional Mother’s Day values as it humanizes and makes vulnerable their C-suite leadership. While it elevates the conventional role of the mother, it is not aimed at the gift purchaser.

Samsung is redefining Mother’s Day and aiming at a Gen Z audience. It simultaneously celebrates mothers and diversity in an edgy spot. A nod to the youngest generation while eschewing links to traditional models.

TJX is very commercially oriented with explicit prescriptive action messages in catchy and fast-moving vignettes aimed at all family members making purchases this Mother’s Day.

Although I am always a fan of making emotional connections with the audience, Dick’s lacked a memorable call to action. The over-commercialization of Mother’s Day by TJX is over the top but might be the needed nudge this year.

Dick Seesel

I happened to catch the 30-second version of the TJX ad on morning TV, and it’s very engaging. It certainly makes the “call to action” more strongly than the other two ads, although it doesn’t try to tug at the heartstrings like the Dick’s ad. A little levity after a year of somber and sentimental ads is actually welcome right now.

Lisa Goller

They’re all great spots. Gen Xs and Boomers will be singing Roxette all month thanks to TJX’s quirky spot. Meanwhile, Samsung’s vibrant, concise and immensely shareable ad will resonate among younger shoppers.

Yet the tenderness of Dick’s on-brand ad is most effective, as moms’ encouragement inspires a sports lifestyle that brings families together as a team.

After a most disruptive year, a core theme that will resonate for Mother’s Day 2021 is, “Give Mom a break.” (And/or diamonds.)

Doug Garnett

I love the Dick’s commercial for the story and message. I especially love that they emphasize Dick’s women executives. But it leaves me unclear on any help for Mother’s Day — a time when I (dads and children) need suggestions.

The Galaxy ad is just, um, expected. To much of exactly what I’d expect for anything to break through.

TJX’s? Guilt producing. It showcases the obligation of heartfelt deep gifts which appeal specifically to your specific mom. What if your mom doesn’t have a cat obsession or didn’t take up yoga in the pandemic? Someone didn’t really think this through.

Brian Cluster

Kids have gone through a great deal of strain this past year. The Dick’s sporting goods ad taps into what kids are going through after not being in sports for a while or not trying things out. It is an encouraging message for our kids and for everyone right now trying out new things. I think that this ad is relevant for where we are as parents and athletes and effectively gets their name out in the market in a positve way.

"I love the emotional message that the Dick’s commercial showed but, in regards to product, I would have to say T.J. Maxx got it done."

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