Written by Jim Babb

Mother’s Day looked a lot different this year than it did in 2020. For many Americans, vaccination feels like a door cracking open, and on the other side are all the activities and people we’ve missed. According to a National Retail Federation survey, people were ready to spend: the average planned spend for Mother’s Day 2021 was $220.48, up $16 from 2020, and the highest amount in the survey’s history.

So how did marketers take advantage of this newly optimistic mood? Below, we’ve rounded up six of the best Mother’s Day campaigns and strategies we saw this year.

6. Together, wherever: Athleta virtual stylingAlthough we’re starting to gather in small, vaccinated groups, Athleta recognized that many people still can’t be with Mom in person—or they’re not yet ready for an in-store experience. Many clothing brands have launched virtual styling, but Athleta cleverly turned this into a giftable bonding opportunity with a special “Mom & Me” styling session. Customers also got 10% off all purchases from the session. It’s almost as good as being together in a fitting room.


5. Two gifts in one: Harlem Candle Co. x LionetteWe saw a few examples of Mother’s Day brand collabs out there, but this one jumped out for its creativity and smart pricing: $210, just under the NRF’s projected average spend. For consumers in search of affordable luxury and a gift with multiple items, this Billie Holiday-inspired collaboration between two NYC brands hit all the right notes. Both companies built product pages and promo images for the bundle, and promoted it on their social media.


4. Help for procrastinators: Lula's Garden last-minute shipping solutionLula’s Garden found a way to address that “oh no, it’s too late!” panic with an offer on their succulent gift boxes: “Pay for standard, we’ll ship express to arrive by M-Day.” In a world where free standard shipping with minimum order has become the norm, this cleverly conveys a sense of value because you’re spending something and getting more than you paid for. And the countdown clock let shoppers know exactly how close to the wire they were.


‍‍3. Opting out of Mother’s Day: Multiple brandsFor many, Mother’s Day is a complicated holiday. It can bring up feelings of grief, loss, anger, and anxiety. Yet our inboxes overflow with bright messages about “finding the perfect gift for the best mom ever!” We’ve been heartened to see a number of brands—including AesopParachuteEtsy, and Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams—give customers the option to opt out of Mother’s Day (and in some cases, Father’s Day) marketing. This simple gesture helps make a tough time a little easier (while reducing unsubscribes), and we hope more brands try it next year.


2. Guided gifting: The Lizzie Fortunato editChoosing a Mother’s Day gift can be tricky, especially if you’re not sure what your mom wants. Part and Sum client Lizzie Fortunato demonstrated the right way to curate with their Mother’s Day edit. By displaying the edit as a whole, instead of breaking it up into sections, shoppers were invited to browse and discover things they might not have considered otherwise. It’s all about variety: Options ranged from rustic woven baskets to a polished pearl necklace, and there was something for budget-conscious shoppers (a $68 vase) as well as big spenders ($1,150 amethyst earrings in 14-karat gold).


1. A realistic twist: Carhartt "The Shift That Never Ends" CampaignRunning across channels and driving to a dedicated lander, Carhartt’s Mother’s Day campaign had a unique message: “At Carhartt, we don’t make gear for Mother’s Day. Because for those 24 hours, Mom shouldn’t be working.”The centerpiece was this 60-second spot that showed a rare glimpse of moms at their most raw.

What makes this so successful is that all moms can relate to that rollercoaster of exhaustion and joy. Whether you’re a farmer or a marketing strategist, you know what it’s like to scream in the car… and then get back to work. (The moms at Part and Sum confirm this.)