Mother's Day is a booming business in the United States, and advertisers certainly know how to capitalize on this Hallmark Holiday, putting their advertising dollars to work in the weeks prior to May 12th.
When looking at Mother's Day ad trends, some things are a given. Fortune once called the holiday the Super Bowl for florists, and Second Measure reports that combined with Valentine's day, the two holidays account for nearly 40% of annual flower sales. No surprise here.
But this holiday isn't just for flowers. In fact, a quick keyword search for "Mother's day" and "mom" in Explorer garnered over 7,000 creatives from over 900 advertisers, to the tune of over $1 billion in just the 5 days leading up to May 12th. Who jumped on the gifts for mom bandwagon? Just about everyone, it seems, from retailers and restaurants to nonprofits, political candidates, and software companies. Here are the trends we saw, and a few bold strategies that stood out.
GENETIC TESTING BRANDS MAKE DNA GIFTS PERSONAL
Among the many retailers, restaurants, spas, and gifts advertised to make Mom's day, the battle of the DNA tests was one that caught us by surprise. Capitalizing on the family-first nature of Mother's Day, both Ancestry and 23andMe released a slew of new creatives prompting us to remind mom how unique she truly is--not with flowers, a new dress or a steak dinner--but with her own DNA.
While Ancestry is working with a bigger budget, the similarities between the brands are striking. Both advertisers focus the majority of their spend on Facebook, both target Facebook ads toward female audiences, and both planned a higher spend in the week leading up to Mother's Day. At its peak, Ancestry's spend jumped 260% from May 1-May 2, tapering off through the week but still averaging over twice their average daily spend on Facebook.
Similarly, 23andMe's relatively stable budget spiked 329% at its peak on 5/5, coming down slightly through 5/12 but still averaging over twice their daily spend average during the month of April.
MAKING MOM'S DAY: CIRQUE DU SOLEIL & iROBOT HAVE ONE THING IN COMMON
One thing we wondered as we studied the top Mother's Day advertisers was which brands, if any, would focus their efforts on men. Among others, two stood out.
While Cirque Du Soleil, the high-flying acrobat show and iRobot, the brand best known for their Roomba vacuum, have little in common on the surface, their marketing strategies are strikingly similar. Both brands were among the top 25 highest digital spenders for ads targeted to Mom in the week leading up Mother's Day, and they seem to agree that men--especially those in Ohio--are their best bet for sales when it comes to Mother's Day gifting.
When compared to many major Mother's Day advertisers, both brands over-index in Ohio, with iRobot spending 8% of their budget in Columbus and Cleveland, and Cirque Du Soleil targeting 10% of their spend toward Cincinnati and Columbus. Do we see an iRobot giveaway at in Cirque's future? Only time will tell.
AND OF COURSE...JUST A FEW ADS FOR FLOWERS
Mother's Day and flowers are a classic combination, and as stated above we'd be remiss to write a Mother's Day roundup without a mention of flowers. As in past years, floral giant 1800 Flowers dominated the flower market in spend, at its peak averaging over a spend of over 250% higher than the 2012 Venice startup The Bouqs Company. Spend differences aside, both brands followed similar flighting patterns, ramping up spend significantly in the two weeks leading up to Mother's day.
With a smaller budget and a (relatively-speaking) newer offering, it's not surprising that The Bouqs Co. places the majority of its ads on Facebook year-round, with less than 5% of spend share dedicated to desktop display, seen across sites such as The New York Times, Fan Duel, and Reddit. Their creative strategy on Facebook was straight-forward and enticing: 15% off on Mother's Day flowers, including a few last-minute deals for those down-to-the-wire shoppers.
1800 Flowers, by comparison, had a more widely dispersed media mix leading up to the holiday with about 29% spend share on desktop video (though the yearly video average for the brand is about 40%), 28% on desktop display, and 37% on Facebook. The strategy across all channels began to ramp up around the last week in April, spiking between May 3-11th and dropping off significantly after May 12th.
With video accounting for eight of their top 10 creatives in the week before Mother's Day, the brand is likely taking on competitor Teleflora who shows a similar affinity for video (with a surprising lack of social spend, leaving The Bouqs Co. to dominate the social sphere, followed by 1800 Flowers.) Video ads tugged on viewers heartstrings showing families together in their homes laughing and hugging and, of course, gifting moms and grandmothers beautiful bouquets.
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With almost a decade of experience across digital marketing, content, creative, and PR, Sarah is a creative and dynamic thinker who loves to delight clients with unique and relatable content. Sarah graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Sociology.