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Brands often miscommunicate to the modern mother: Industry experts

As every year before, this year too has seen a plethora of ads around Mother’s Day. Brands were on an overdrive with campaigns celebrating motherhood and mother-child relationship. The messages were emotional, inspirational – and along expected lines. 

Industry experts that Adgully spoke to feel that brands are somehow missing out on addressing the ‘modern mom’ – the Millennial woman who is multi-dimensional, well aware of gender equality, sees herself more as a friend and mentor to her kids. The industry experts feel that this modern mom has moved on far ahead in life, whereas brand communication is still stuck in a time lapse of a mother who is at the beck and call of her child, managing the kitchen, waiting on them hand and foot, filled with a cloying sweetness. 

 

 

Naresh Gupta, ‎CSO & Managing Partner, ‎Bang in the Middle
Naresh Gupta, ‎CSO & Managing Partner, ‎Bang in the Middle
As Naresh Gupta, ‎CSO & Managing Partner, ‎Bang in the Middle, responded when asked what challenges brands faced when they had to project the modern mother, “If the relationship is forced then it’s a problem, because it will come and go. If the brand is dependent on moms and it has used moms all the time, then this is just one more day to celebrate what she represents. Either you focus on the relationship that you have, then it builds on what you are doing and starts to work for the brand, but if you’re doing this because it’s an occasion, it’s just an event that comes and goes and I don’t think consumers remember those kinds of things very often.” 

What defines a modern mother and what challenges does she poses to the brand? 

Arun Iyer, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, Lowe Lintas:
“I have no idea how to define a modern mother. It is very difficult to say what a modern mother is. I think more than the challenge she poses to the brand, they are trying to relate with this modern mother and ride the wave that revolves around women empowerment. If the brand is making a real difference, we should talk about it, but most brands show no semblance of that behaviour once that day is over, and that doesn’t add up for me.” 

Naresh Gupta, ‎CSO & Managing Partner, ‎Bang in the Middle:
“I don’t think there is any brand that is depicting the modern mother, because the modern mother is very different. Her relationship with her kids and her husband is completely different. She is more of a friend to her children and prone to treat them as equals. She is no longer the harsh, strict taskmaster who will impose her views. This newer mother and the way she has become friends with her kids has changed the entire conversation from being an authority to being somebody who kids can vibe with, and this is a trend that hasn’t been seen in advertising for a very long time. You might have one odd commercial here or there that depicts such a mother, but otherwise there is too much of the tough mom narrative that you can see in ads by ‘Good Knight’ or ‘HIT’. That’s a 70’s mom. You really don’t see that kind of mom anymore. You see a lot of modern moms in movies, for instance, where moms are still projected like that, but I don’t see anything of the sort in advertising.” 

Priyanka Kaul, President – Marketing and Special Projects, TV18:
“As a mother, I don’t want brands to talk just to me. Raising a family and managing a home is a joint responsibility and I appreciate brands who talk to mothers and fathers as equal stakeholders. Brands who believe that only mothers should be responsible or be targeted for the detergent and oil that needs to be bought or nutrition of the kids, need to modernise their outlook and sync it with what defines the 2018 mother.” 

N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA Research
N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA Research
N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA Research:
“The typical modern mother (of a millennial) has most of the following qualities – smart, tech-savvy, educated, career-oriented, one who handles multiple responsibilities – of work, home, family health and that also of being the primary care-giver for the child. She was born in the cusp of the tech changes that engulf us – mobile, Internet, social media, etc. She is less bothered by traditional mindsets or by social norms. She has a vision for herself, and yes, is tethered to values ingrained in her.” 

“She faces several challenges, mostly because the children born in the current era are overexposed to the same things she knew how to deal with.” 

“When a brand goes cloyingly sweet talking of the mother, she does not relate; when the brand shows her show her as too traditional, she does not relate, or too technical, or too-anything. The brand which addresses the modern mother must understand the term a martini-mami (martini-mausi, if you will).” 

“This means that she can be traditional and free, drink a martini and yet go to the temple without thinking these seem different. She can raise a child to have values and yet be ready to dump her spouse if he does not behave.” 

“Brands, unfortunately, listen less to their audiences and more to their own egos, therefore often miscommunicate to the modern mother.” 

Shuchi Chawla, Brand Head, Ixigo
Shuchi Chawla, Brand Head, Ixigo
Shuchi Chawla, Brand Head, Ixigo:
“Modern mothers or millennial moms are aspiring and ambitious. They take joy in handling all aspects of their lives without juggling. From raising their kids to building their careers and managing the household, they exhibit traditional values with a modern lifestyle in just the perfect sense.” 

“Marketing to a modern mother can be quite tricky for many brands. Keeping up with the media consumption of a millennial mother is a big challenge. It has become essential for a brand to focus on how they advertise a product to a mother, to gain her trust and mark them as a responsible brand.” 

Are brands under-leveraging the true potential of Mother’s Day? 

Arun Iyer, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, Lowe Lintas:
“No, I don’t think brands are under-leveraging the potential of Mother’s Day, because everybody is trying to make sure they put out a statement that connects with that day. I think it’s a good thing to celebrate Mothers, but I feel brands put it out there with the hope that this is the content that is going to be shared and this is going to be the poster child of Mother’s Day this year, and I’m not sure if it necessarily fructifies like that.” 

Naresh Gupta, ‎CSO & Managing Partner, ‎Bang in the Middle:
“The problem on social media is the clutter that surrounds this one day. The appeal for the event is so high and there are so many ads overlapping that it is difficult for any one brand to claim credit. I don’t think this clutter is going to go away anywhere, so if a brand has nothing to do with celebrating mother, motherhood, relationships of a mother, it will still do it on that day because it is a battle.” 

Priyanka Kaul, President – Marketing and Special Projects, TV18:
“Well, apart from just stating our love for our mothers on this day, there is an opportunity for brands to walk that extra mile by positioning and encouraging more mothers to follow their dreams on a professional front and not feel guilty if they have to do this at the cost of family time. Examples of mothers who are doing so and families who encourage and support them, from all sections of society, will only inspire other women and their families. At the same time, mothers who choose not to work must also be treated as equal partners and contributors in a family. Brands which put some thought into how to celebrate mothers, both working moms and homemakers, win over those that don’t.” 

N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA Research:
“Brands are made of brand managers. Most of these brand managers are caught in a time-lapse, unable to try the new. They don’t take risks and, therefore, most of the mother-led campaigns look and sound like clones. None of them sound ‘real’.” 

Shuchi Chawla, Brand Head, Ixigo:
“While some brands are adopting a more fun and quirky approach to communicate the feel of Mother’s Day, there are many that are bringing out a heartwarming and emotional connection. Different brands with different campaigns highlight the importance of a mother’s role in our lives, trying to deep connect with the audience. Some might focus on delivering the message while others coherently integrate the product in their transmission.” 

Do brands need to overhaul their Mother’s Day campaigns? 

Arun Iyer, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, Lowe Lintas
Arun Iyer, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, Lowe Lintas
Arun Iyer, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, Lowe Lintas:
“If it’s being done with a specific audience in mind then, yes. But from the work I’ve seen, they seem to be tugging at a human emotion involved in being a mother. It may be that the brass tacks realities of media consumption are different for a millennial mother as compared to an earlier mother, but when you reach out and evoke an emotion that is aimed at the heart of the person, I don’t think it makes much of a difference, if you’re a millennial mother or a traditional mother. Today, brands are trying to create as many plus points with audiences as possible and in this growing world of content these are legitimate opportunities to put out a point of view about the world that your brand belongs to. You get an opportunity to put it out there because people are in that frame of mind and if you hit the sweet spot then the message really connects. People have gotten used to consuming so much content that brands have to find reasons to keep connecting and keep putting out stuff.” 

Naresh Gupta, ‎CSO & Managing Partner, ‎Bang in the Middle:
“I think this audience doesn’t look at ads at all. They are not concerned with what the brands are advertising. Broadcast doesn’t work for them and that is why it is very difficult for brands to connect with them. This is a new challenge that even I as a planner have not been able to overcome because direct advertising is something they find intrusive. Less intrusive ads have stopped working for them completely. If you want to connect with these moms you might have to change the way you look at advertising and branding. Today, the average 25-30-year-old mom is more active on Instagram and engaging far more with Instagram than anywhere else, even Facebook. It is very difficult for brands to reach this mom.” 

Priyanka Kaul, President – Marketing and Special Projects, TV18
Priyanka Kaul, President – Marketing and Special Projects, TV18
Priyanka Kaul, President – Marketing and Special Projects, TV18:
“Most definitely. It’s important to change the imagery of pots, pans and stain-related advertising targeting mothers – it may have worked for the generation above us but it’s time for a face-lift. No young woman, mother or not, wants to be slotted into a restrictive role. Millennials are multi-dimensional, educated about gender equality and the world is theirs to explore. Marketing campaigns need to be creative about appealing to young parents – mothers and fathers – and Mother's Day, which could be considered an old-fashioned Hallmark occasion, is one such example of highlighting a liberal mind-set for younger generations to imbibe.” 

N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA Research:
“Mothers are no different from other humans and, therefore, what affects those born 30 years ago, also affects them. My only advice to brands – don’t club them into the ‘Mother’ bracket, see them as an individual first. They have a maternal instinct, but don’t address them as if it is the only lens to look at a woman, who also happens to be a mother.” 

Shuchi Chawla, Brand Head, Ixigo:
“When it comes to millennial moms, the precise brand approach should be real and relatable. Motherhood is a job and it is inevitable, but focussing on the bigger picture is what a brand should swivel on.” 

“Mothers are all-rounders, multi-dimensional and this is what needs to be the centre of brand campaigns. From e-commerce to airlines, fashion brands, food brands to electrical appliances, the last few years have witnessed a significant gush in the number of brands identifying themselves with this day. While some campaigns have cherished mothers as the first best friend in our lives, others have successfully celebrated the spirit of motherhood.”

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