Mothers, in advertising, hold an almost unattainable place.

Motherhood is a very complicated state of being without adding anything to it, but when you add the lenses of myth, history and expectation applied by marketers, customers and businesses to it, it becomes even more complicated and absolutely unattainable.

In real life, mothers are real, talented, flawed, human, awesome, challenging and challenged.  Just like non-mums.  You know, human.

But somehow that gets lost in the hands of marketers.

Just like Photoshop, distorting women’s bodies and our perception of womanhood since it was first introduced, the storytelling of advertising distorts our perceptions of mums and what they should be.

In ads, mothers really should be:

  • aspirational
  • thin, but not too thin
  • white (because heaven forbid in multi-cultural Australia that we show our actual rich heritage, one that grows richer by the day)
  • understanding and forgiving
  • calm
  • funny
  • attractive
  • inspirational

Women should be telling their own stories in ads.  Perhaps that is one of the problems in Australia – our advertising agencies have a well-documented bias towards white men.  These men make the creative decisions and don’t have the rich and real patina that comes from being an actual mum.  They tell a stereotyped story.

As women though, we have a fabulous source of mums telling it how it is – and our marketing and advertising should reflect that.

Jane Caro.

Carrie Bickmore.

Annabel Crabbe.

Our own mothers in many cases.

More than 2 billion women in the world are mothers.

As marketers and advertisers, let’s start telling stories through the lens of how they view themselves:

  • carer
  • safe house
  • coach
  • fan
  • playmate
  • rule breaker
  • friend
  • hero
  • elder

Fiat did a pretty good job in this ad:

What ads featuring mothers out there tickle your fancy?