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After its success in London, Proctor & Gamble will reprise the ‘Raising an Olympian‘ series of short features at the Sochi Games.The Associated Press

For the world's largest advertiser, it was a $500-million message: Thank you.

In a crowded field like the Olympics, when advertisers are clamouring to be heard above the din and to make pricey sponsorship contracts pay off, Procter & Gamble Co. has recently come out on top. A massive campaign, launched during the 2012 Games in London with agency Wieden + Kennedy, showed the sacrifices mothers of Olympic athletes have made for their families.

"Thank you, Mom" netted P&G oodles of awards, and the company logged $500-million (U.S.) in additional sales worldwide, all because of what it showed mothers: recognition.

According to new research released this week, that kind of recognition is exactly what mothers crave. Environics Communications will release its Modern Mom Report on Tuesday, a look at the changing attitudes of Canadian mothers – and how marketers should be thinking about speaking to them.

Roughly eight out of 10 mothers surveyed said they sacrifice more than dads when raising children. But the research, which involved a survey of more than 500 Canadian mothers, combined with data from other Environics "social values" research, showed that more than ever, mothers crave recognition.

Sixty-two per cent of mothers surveyed agreed with the statement, "I wish I had more recognition from my children for what I do in the home."

"Moms don't want to be invisible. They want to be acknowledged," said Ruth Bastedo, senior associate at Environics.

This may be particularly important for marketers in Canada: Environics research shows 39 per cent of moms surveyed in the U.S. agree that "the father should be master in his household," compared with just 17 per cent in Canada. That speaks to changing roles – often for the better – but also less clarity for mothers.

"In the past, motherhood had a value in society that was clear. With all these changing definitions of what a family is, and what motherhood is, that recognition is not as clear," said Robin Brown, senior vice-president of consumer insights for Environics Research Group.

P&G will continue to tap into that sentiment at the Sochi Games, where it will reprise its "Raising an Olympian" series of short features on athletes' mothers. It has already signed an advertising deal with Canadian Olympic broadcaster CBC. "The 'Thank you, Mom' campaign … was built on a universal insight of recognizing moms for all the little things they do each day," said P&G Canada spokesperson Joyce Law. "As a mom, I can relate to that."

But recognition is not the only thing marketers need to learn about moms. Citizen Optimum is also putting the finishing touches on its Citizen Mom report, and it has a warning for marketers. Yes, mothers want to be recognized. But do not try to tell them they can have it all.

It was a counter-intuitive finding in Citizen's research. Phrases such as "mom of the year" or a general "supermom" image actually risk turning off the women. Ads where mothers glide through life without a hair out of place may seem aspirational, but advertisers may want to think twice before using that trope.

"She almost feels like it's setting her up to fail," said Nick Cowling, general manager of Citizen Optimum. "… She wants life to be a bit messy [in ads], because that's the way it is."


74 per cent – Proportion of household chores that mom does on average in Canada.

82 per cent – Respondents who who feel they sacrifice more than dads do when raising children.

75 per cent – Moms who say shopping for non-grocery household items falls primarily to them (23 per cent said this was shared equally and just 5 per cent said it fell mainly to their partner).

67 per cent – Moms who say they do most of the grocery shopping (22 per cent share this equally, 11 per cent say it falls to their partner).

Who influences mom? In Canada, it is her spouse – more than half of respondents said their spouse is their most trusted adviser. Gen Y respondents said that after their spouse, they trust their own parents most for advice.

6 out of 10 – Moms who said they think messages they receive from companies are trustworthy.

Source: Environics' Modern Mom Report; numbers may not add up to 100 due to rounding


"I want to see everyone pitching in. I want to see frazzled moms who hate cleaning."

"It drives me nuts when a laundry product makes it look like all it takes to make me happy is whiter whites or fluffy towels!"

"Taught the baby to point at my tattoo and say 'tattoo.' I will accept my Mother of the Year award in cupcakes and pulled pork sandwiches."

"Women have come a long way in the last 100 years and it seems even more is expected of us now."

Editor's note: P&G's 'Thank you, Mom' campaign helped the company log $500-million (U.S.) in additional sales worldwide. An incorrect total appeared in an earlier version of this online story.