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Brief Published: 5 May 2021

Mother’s Day 2021 (US): Marketing Trends

Spending is rising for Mother’s Day in the US (May 9) – 83% of Americans are planning to celebrate it to the tune of $28.1bn in total, $1.4bn more than 2020 (NRF, 2021). Key marketing trends surfacing include foregrounding mothers’ professional roles and prioritising empathetic and inclusive communications. Mother-and-me ads and throwback humour are also winning this year.

Painting Mothers in a Professional Context 

After a year when the push-pull of work and parenting reached crisis levels for many mothers, several brands are foregrounding the dual jobs that many mothers do.

  • Dick’s Depicts Female Leadership: As part of its push to draw women shoppers, US retail chain Dick’s Sporting Goods has struck a chord (9.4 million YouTube views to date) with a commercial starring several of its top female executives and their children. The women are seen boosting the morale of their kids playing soccer or learning how to swim. The campaign cleverly shows the company as supporting female parents in its leadership team ­– including Lauren Hobart, who became chief executive of the business in February 2021 – while capturing touching real-life moments.

  • El Pollo Loco’s Grants for Mothers: Acknowledging the pandemic’s particularly heavy burden on women, LA-based fast-food chain El Pollo Loco is providing a dozen $5,000 grants to local mothers. The Strong Like a Madre initiative invites consumers to nominate (via social media) a mother who lost work in the past year, is looking to start a business, or just needs an escape from overwork burnout. It follows the brand’s similar Hispanic Heritage Month 2020 campaign, which awarded grants to Latina food-business owners.
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El Pollo Loco

Empathetic & Inclusive Brand Comms

Echoing increased sensitivity surrounding Valentine’s Day this year (see the section Anti-Cliché and Opting Out in Valentine’s Day 2021 Strategies), astute brands are newly mindful of consumers for whom the holiday is a painful one and those often left out of mainstream messaging.

  • Parachute, Aesop & Etsy Offer Marketing Opt-Outs: Attuned to the emotional challenges that Mother’s Day can bring – especially after a year of pandemic-related loss – several brands enabled email subscribers to skip Mother’s Day messaging. Etsy saw an “overwhelmingly positive” response after offering a one-click option to miss all Mother’s Day emails. Personal care brand Aesop sent a similar offer, as did LA-based bedding brand Parachute, which said 2,000 customers opted out. Etsy plans to extend the same offer for Father’s Day in June.

  • Jergens Recognises Diverse Mothers: Honouring a spectrum of mothers, US skincare brand Jergens created a commercial in consultation with US advocacy organisations including LGBTQ-focused GLAADProject Race (advocating for multiracial children) and Voice for Adoption. Mothers shown or mentioned include an adoptive mother, a stepmother, a transgender mother and a two-mother family. 

Mother & Me Marketing

Several brands are counting on the enduring appeal of seeing famous faces in a family context.

  • Family Portraits via Victoria’s Secret & Coach: Adopting a more wholesome than normal style of art direction, a black-and-white photography campaign from US lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret shows supermodels with their mothers or children including Nigerian model Mayowa Nichols and long-time Danish model Helena Christensen.

    Similarly, luxury US fashion brand Coach depicts brand ambassadors including American actress Andie MacDowell and singer-songwriter Ciara with their children. The campaign includes social media clips showing family interactions.
  • Samsung Pursues Creator Consumers: Promoting the Galaxy S21 smartphone’s camera features, Samsung is highlighting social media creators singing the praises (and taking photos) of their mothers. A TV commercial includes American performer Bob the Drag Queen, Colombian YouTuber Cami Zuluaga and American TikTok personality Olive Mannella. Thanks partly to a cameo by Korean boy band icons BTS, the video has 6 million YouTube views to date.
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Victoria's Secret x Helena Christensen
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Victoria's Secret x Mayowa Nicholas

The 80s Never Get Old

As noted in our Super Bowl 2021 report, 1980s pop-cultural references remain a go-to for brands seeking common national touchpoints, especially when it comes to humour. 

  • TJX Scores with Video Parody: US off-price retailer TJX, parent of brands including TJ Maxx and Marshalls, is doing well with a joyful ad showing TJX shoppers lampooning cheesy 80s music video tropes – riffing on Roxette’s classic “Listen to Your Heart” while cleverly working in references to key product categories. The video has 10.6 million YouTube views to date.
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