It’s been a busy week at Saatchi towers. On Wednesday I unveiled the results of a project that I have been working on with the online forum for mothers, Mumsnet at their inaugural Mumstock conference on marketing to mothers.
This project aims to challenge a whole set of myths about marketing to mothers that seem to me to be endemic in the marketing and advertising community on the part of both clients and agencies. Myths that if they ever were based in fact have long since ceased to be.
Indeed the process of putting together this thinking, using social listening, quant’ and qual’ research has made me even more convinced that we are in desperate need of a revolution in the way that marketing thinks about and addresses mums or as I believe we should really be calling them, women with children.
Indeed the central conviction I have now is that with only 19% of mothers saying that they relate to any mothers portrayed in advertising and only 23% happy with people other than their family calling them a Mum, it is high time that we ditched the ‘mum’ word from marketing altogether.
‘Mum’ is a pet name that children use to address their mothers. It is a disgrace that marketing has appropriated it as a label to lump together every woman with a child in order to feign some kind of familiarity or closeness to them and their lives.
For one thing the label papers over the deep divisions that exist within the 18 million women in the UK that call themselves a mother. Divisions that have absolutely nothing to do with whether a mother decides to stay at home or is in paid employment but what class she is, how much income the family has, her educational achievements, her age, her location and her ethnicity.
For another it’s just damn lazy. I would be shot if I ever wrote ‘car buyers’, ‘mobile phone customers’ or even ‘blokes’ on creative brief but its entirely fine to write ‘mums’. The word ‘mum’ stands in for doing any actual thinking yourself, it appears like you mean something specific but in fact you don’t at all, since in the case of the UK you have just gathered together tens of millions of women in one meaningless catch all term.
As George Orwell said “Orthodoxy is not thinking, not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness”. And the use of the label ‘Mum’ is a form of unconsciousness we suffer from all to often when it comes to thinking about the lives of women with children.
So here are the slides from the presentation at Mumstock. I’m not sure if you get the notes if you download the slideshare but unlike most of my presentations this one makes reasonable sense from the slides.
And if it doesn’t heres a video from an APG session on why advertising alienates women.