Marketing & Advertising’s Influence on the Mother’s Day Holiday

Every second Sunday of May, a floral frenzy descends upon us. Streets burst into bloom, restaurant reservations skyrocket, and our social feeds morph into an endless scroll of heart emojis and throwback photos. Yes, it’s Mother’s Day—a day earmarked for maternal homage. But how did we get here? Are we celebrating our mothers out of genuine appreciation, or has marketing molded our emotions like Play-Doh in the hands of a crafty toddler?

Let’s dive into the evolution of Mother’s Day and dissect the influence of marketing and advertising…

How it Started

Contrary to popular belief, Mother’s Day wasn’t invented by savvy marketers or greeting card companies. The holiday’s roots trace back to Anna Jarvis in the early 1900s, who originally conceived it as a day of personal celebration between mothers and families. Her vision was pure—she wanted to honor the sacrifices mothers made for their children. This sentiment is a testimony to the enduring bond shared by families.

However, as the holiday gained traction, so did the attention of businesses. What started as a simple observance quickly turned into a golden goose of commercial opportunity. By the mid-20th century, Mother’s Day had become a substantial economic powerhouse, with Anna Jarvis herself lamenting the crass commercialization of the day. She fought against the very monster she unwittingly helped create, protesting against those who profited off the pure emotions of gratitude and love. Man, talk about a good deed gone wrong. 

Or was it… 

Fast forward to today, Mother’s Day is a marketing behemoth. Advertisements paint idyllic pictures of motherhood that are as polished as they are persuasive. They’ve brilliantly crafted a narrative that resonates deeply with our desire to show appreciation and love. 

From heart-tugging commercials that depict smiling, serene mothers, to email blasts that cleverly remind us of the ticking clock to get that “perfect gift,” marketers have mastered the art of emotional engagement. They weave stories that speak directly to our hearts, urging us to express our love through consumerism. Whether it’s the limited-edition perfumes, the luxurious spa vouchers, or the gourmet chocolates, every product is wrapped in the allure of exclusivity and affection. 

But let’s not overlook the genius in personalization, where modern marketing takes a bow. Custom gifts are all the rage, with everything from jewelry to photo books being tailor-made to add that personal touch to the gifts. This strategy taps into our desire to make our mothers feel singularly special and deeply loved.

But this all begs the question: is this really what moms want? Is the way in which advertisements showcase moms what motherhood really is like? 

As a working-mom, I say NO! 

My husband and daughters have been going nuts all week trying to figure out what to get me for mother’s day. Asking me if I want to go out for breakfast. Asking me what I want to do today. Basically forcing breakfast in bed on me when that’s not even my vibe. 

I had to politely ask them to stop. I don’t want breakfast in bed, I don’t want to go out to an overcrowded restaurant and I don’t want expensive gifts. All I want is for my kids to behave and I just want to relax. I want to do whatever I want to do vs whatever I have to do. I want silence and rest… and did I mention good behavior from my kids???

So, this Mother’s Day, let’s love loudly, celebrate creatively, and maybe—just maybe—rebel a little against the conventional. After all, our mothers taught us that a little bit of rebellion is necessary sometimes, especially when it’s done out of love.