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Moms: Good enough is good enough

Posted by patty on June 2, 2017

This article was originally posted on LinkedIn by Esther Fabian, senior account executive at Hart.

An article in the May 8, 2014, issue of the New Republic, Mia Frazier wrote, “Today, no stock character is as ubiquitous in advertising as the sacrificial mother. She is the conquering hero of childrearing, endlessly in demand, yet always devoted. She may be fiction, but no matter—she makes us cry. And tweet and share and like.”

And, quite frankly, as a mother, I’m pretty sick of seeing this heroic portrayal of mothers. I sometimes forget to pack my daughter’s lunch. Or I’ll realize that, in less than 24 hours, I have a schedule conflict that requires me to blow something off to make something else work. Or I might make her wear a ponytail so it’s not so obvious that the shower that should’ve happened last night didn’t. And, no matter the mom, her financial situation, how many kids she has, or whether she’s married, divorced or single, we all feel like shit when we think like we don’t measure up.

When the movie Bad Moms came out last fall, there was a surge of interest among mothers all around me who couldn’t wait to see it. And let’s be honest – this movie was no cinematic gem – but it was something we think-we-have-to-do-everything-perfectly moms needed.

And what a welcome change. The trend toward portraying the “good-enough” mother in media and advertising is taking hold (which, I’ve recently learned, is a real-life psychology theory develop by Donald Willicot in the 1950s).

Will it pay off for advertisers? It will if there’s more to it than just trying to look like you “get” us. It needs to be more than that.

Problem solving

Does your understanding or celebration of the “good-enough” mom help solve an actual problem of the “good-enough” mom? Or are you just patronizing me? If you can’t make my life easier, I don’t have time for you. If I’m simply part of your target audience, I’ll feel like you’re trying to invade my personal space when you have no business doing so. Go bug someone else.

Emotional connection

Whether it’s through humor or tears, your good-enough mom needs to emote. Sometimes we want to laugh, other times we want to cry. Make us do one of those things and we’ll remember you.

(Moving) Target Audience

If moms are an important audience to your message, you need to consider that there’s way more than one mom persona to consider. In 2015, Experian rolled out five mom segments:

  • Striving moms
  • Conventional moms
  • Alpha moms
  • Modest moms
  • Maverick moms

Helpful? Absolutely. I have mom friends in all of these categories. But many brands want to market to all of these mom segments – what resonates with all moms? We’re all doing what we can. We’re all hoping we’re “good enough.”

Luvs’ “Second kid” spots do something really nice – they make any mom of at least one kid feel like they’re part of some cool club. Yeah, I paid my dues as a hyper-cautious mom of one child and now I’ve earned membership in this club whose members are allowed to not be perfect. And this diaper brand is just for us. Those new moms don’t get it (yet), but they will, and when they do, we’ll welcome them with open arms.

Recently we developed a spot for ProMedica OnDemand. The idea of the good-enough mom concept influenced this spot, named “Basketball.” The parental unit is experiencing chaos relatable to many families. The mom isn’t trying to be sweet or handle all of the family’s issues of the moment (sidebar: she’s also not the one cooking dinner). In fact, she’s initially happy to pawn taking her son to the doctor off on dad – until it becomes easier than running their daughter to basketball practice.

Is it okay that she doesn’t want to be at the forefront of both children’s activities? Does that make her an uncaring mother? Hell, no. It makes her human!

The next step? How about connecting with women by celebrating non-mom accomplishments? Yes, many of us our moms, but many aren’t, and we certainly all have identities outside of motherhood, so make it okay for us to acknowledge that.

GE’s commercial featuring Millie Dresselhaus is a good start.



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