The truth about mums


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A presentation challenging the myths that surround marketing to mothers. Based on research conducted by Saatchi & Saatchi for Mumsnet

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  • Lets bust some myths about Motherhood
  • 18 million women in the UK say that they are Mums according to the 2011 census.That’s almost one third of the UK population.Upon whom we spend enormous amounts of time and moneySo it seemed a reasonable question to ask whether we are doing a decent job of it or not
  • The research combined social listening on Mums net, a nationally representative sample of 865 mums through IPSOS all bolstered by qualitative research both pre and post the quant for context and diagnostics
  • And if you want one blunt and simplistic headline its that marketing has got mums wrong, dreadfully wrong.When only 19% of mothers in the UK believe that there are examples of mums they can relate to you know that something must be rotten in the state of adland.
  • Our research has led us to believe that the problem is that as marketers we are working to a series of myths about motherhood that if they were ever true are no longer the case. There are a whole set of myths but today we are going to talk about five in particular.
  • Marketers seem to believe that motherhood is all consuming for women with children and an appropriate label for their lives- that motherhood defines mums. It may do for her but then she’s not exactly representative of British motherhood is she.
  • The real truth is that motherhood is an important role and responsibility for mothers but it does not define them – its part of their life not the entirety of their identity
  • Both of these quotes are about identity. The firs about how mothers see them selves and the second about how they are seen by their kids.
  • Indeed only one quarter of mothers are actually happy with you calling her a mum. Mum is a name kids call their mothers not a label for marketers can appropriate and occupy to give themselves a false sense of closeness and familiarity to their target audience.
  • So Motherhood is a role and a responsibility, it is not a life.Few brands really embrace this but John Lewis made a decent stab of it with their generations work – work that recognises and honours the motherhood role but only in the context of all her identities as a woman.
  • From the evidence before us marketers seem to believe that every mother is desperately seeking perfection and looking to brands to help achieve this. Every mum wants to be a good mum, but good enough is good enough for most mothers
  • When in fact perfection is not only not sought but actively ridiculed
  • And when they talk about perfection it is not out of admiration but a dislike of being judged
  • Because this is the reality of most mums lives – that’s what we did yesterday when the PE kit had to go back into school.
  • So lets hear it for mess and imperfection. Its more fun and less time consuming that perfection.Persil did this brilliantly a few years ago when they embraced dirt as a friend of childhood and not the enemy.
  • Marketers seem to believe that mothers are paragons of saintlyvirtue you have to treat with utmost care. Marketing mums don’t swear, they don’t have a little too much to drink, they don’t laugh at the same things as other adults and they don’t have sex – which is more than a little ironic. More than one client has briefed me insisting that the only comedy mums like is the Vicar of Dibley (that came off air in 2007!
  • I’m sorry to break this to you but Mums are real adult humans with the same frustrations, desires, anxieties and funny bones as other adults. They have a dark and often dirty sense of humour and you only have to have witnessed the Penis Beaker thread of Mumsnetto know this full well.
  • In fact mums live in morbid fear of the slippery slope into being mumsy.Only 30% will admit that they have become more mumsy with motherhood and only 28% say that it has curbed their behaviour which is astonishing.
  • Mums are surrounded by children enough in her life without us lot treating her like one too so lets stop walking on eggshells when we talk with her.This ad from the US is worth a look on this subject.The depiction of the mums doesn’t go down well as they are very mumsy.But people love the insight about the need to face the fact that your son will one day fall in love with another woman.
  • Ah yes. The bumbling dad.As a community we still seem to believe that we can curry favour with mothers by depicting their men as clowns at best and at worst part timers.
  • But what mums are saying is that their partners are full partners in parenthood. And shock horror they are increasingly pulling their weight.That’s not to say that gender equality in the home is a done deal but that families are increasingly working as teams to support and look after their families.
  • Which brings us to the final myth for today.Marketers seem to believe that motherhood is a life of frazzled drudgery with the odd moment of saintly pride.Indeed this is the key way in which marketers pretend to ‘empathise’ with mothers.
  • But if there is one thing I want you to take away from our work it is that motherhood is actually really good fun. It’s hard and stay at home parenting is even harder but its pretty much the best fun you can have with your clothes on. Because you invite into your life the funniest and most loving human beings imaginable. Sure they think you are lame if you can’t master Minecraftbut they make you cry with laughter more than with frustration.
  • But before you all follow Bick Hicks famous advice to everyone in marketing and advertising to go kill yourselves.Marketing alone is not to blame.Society has a pretty fucked up view of mums and motherhood.Society turn a pet name for mothers into a label, culture has filled it with nonsense and it’s the media that trolls mums on an almost daily basis – making them feel guilty for this or that.
  • The issue then is with the label. A label for 18 million women that hides the deep divisions between the experiences of mothers.Divisions that are not along the cliched lines of ‘stay at home’ and ‘paid working’ mothers but deeply orthodox lines of education, class, income, geography and ethnicity.
  • So there is a desperate need for society as a wholeto recognise the diversity and individuality of women with children.The Lean in Foundation project with Getty Images to create a more positive representation in stock photography of women in general and mothers in particular is a start.And for marketers to empathisewith engage withreal mothers and not the cliched pen portraits in their head.
  • And maybe if the label has become so useless it is perhaps time to leave the word ‘mum’ to our children and to ditch it as a way we in marketing talk about what we really mean – women with children
  • The truth about mums

    1. 1. The truth about mums Challenging our myths about marketing to mothers
    2. 2. million women18 Source: 2011 Census
    3. 3. 60 hours of chat and coffee 865 Women with children under 16 4.8m monthly visitors Qualitative research Quantitative research Mumsnet community
    4. 4. Source: IPSOS/Saatchi & Saatchi quantitative research, Nov 2013 Only 19% believe there are any examples of mums in advertising that they can relate to
    5. 5. “Here's a newsflash for all you advertisers. Please, I realise you all have targets to make, stereotypes to depict, money to count, but treat parents as intelligent people, not as just a parent” Source: Mumsnet/Saatchi & Saatchi qualitative research, 2013/14
    6. 6. Five myths
    7. 7. Myth #1 Motherhood defines mums
    8. 8. Revelation #1 Mothers hate being labeled simply as a ‘mum’
    9. 9. “They won’t remember the things that I taught them, they will remember the person I was” Source: Mumsnet/Saatchi & Saatchi qualitative research, 2013/14 “I would never define myself as a Mum, of course I am a mum but I like to see myself as an independent person”
    10. 10. Source: IPSOS/Saatchi & Saatchi quantitative research, Nov 2013 3/10 Only 23% of mothers are happy with people other than their families calling her mum mothers even agree that they are ‘me first and then a mum’
    11. 11. Motherhood is a role and responsibility not a life John Lewis: Generations
    12. 12. Myth #2 Mums are ‘practically perfect in every way’
    13. 13. Revelation #2 Mothers ridicule perfection
    14. 14. 74% say they have ever met a perfect mum Source: IPSOS/Saatchi & Saatchi quantitative research, Nov 2013 of mums agree that they aren’t perfect but they aren’t trying to be Only 9%
    15. 15. “We all suck the stains out of their rugby shirts and pack them back in the bag because we forgot to wash them.” Source: Mumsnet/Saatchi & Saatchi qualitative research, 2013/14
    16. 16. It’s messy out there – but in a good way Persil: Dirt is good
    17. 17. Myth #3 Mums are prudes
    18. 18. Revelation #3 Mothers often have a dark and sometimes dirty sense of humour
    19. 19. Only 30% Source: IPSOS/Saatchi & Saatchi quantitative research, Nov 2013 say that motherhood has made them more mumsy say that motherhood has made them more reserved Only 28%
    20. 20. Source: Mumsnet/Saatchi & Saatchi qualitative research, 2013/14 “Just because I’m a mum it doesn’t mean I’ve had a humour bypass operation” “It doesn't make me less of a mum with what comes out of my mouth! I swear, make jokes, and talk about sex more than the average person and it has absolutely no effect on my parenting skills.”
    21. 21. Example Stop treating her like a child Old Spice ‘Old Spice made a man of my son’
    22. 22. Myth #4 Dads are sideshows in the parenting department
    23. 23. Source: IPSOS/Saatchi & Saatchi quantitative research, Nov 2013 Revelation #4 Dads are full partners in parenthood and increasingly seen to pull their weight
    24. 24. Source: IPSOS/Saatchi & Saatchi quantitative research, Nov 2013 60% Only 25% say their partner is just as involved in parenting of mothers think that their partner isn’t doing enough around the house.
    25. 25. “The bumbling husband, clever wife adverts are just cringe-worthy. They were probably funny a few years ago but now it’s just another stereotype and a boring one at that” Source: Mumsnet/Saatchi & Saatchi qualitative research, 2013/14
    26. 26. Source: Mumsnet/Saatchi & Saatchi qualitative research, 2013/14 “I am not the only parent in my household there happens to be an adult male living here too who was equally involved in the creation of the small people. He is a fully functioning, responsible adult who is perfectly capable of being with – not looking after or babysitting his children”
    27. 27. Parenting matters to Dads and Dads parenting matters to Mums Robinsons – ‘Pals’
    28. 28. Myth #5 Motherhood is a life of unrelenting drudgery
    29. 29. Revelation #5 Motherhood is the most fun you can have with your clothes on
    30. 30. Source: IPSOS/Saatchi & Saatchi quantitative research, Nov 2013 60% say that the best fun they have is with their kids say that their kids are more fun to spend time with than most of the adults they know60%
    31. 31. Why can’t we recognise that being a mum can just be fun?
    32. 32. The mum label hides the fault lines running through motherhood
    33. 33. MUM