Mother's Day ads trigger emotions, irrational spending

Mother's Day ad campaigns target your emotional connection to your mom and capitalize on it.

Marketers aim to manipulate consumer emotions for Mother's Day

Kobo's 2013 Mother's Day campaign shows images of moms reading to their kids, then asks consumers to repay the favour by giving Mom an e-reader. (Kobo )

Buying a gift for Mother's Day can be an emotional shopping experience, and advertisers are using those emotions as leverage in their marketing campaigns.

In this 2013 ad, Google shows kids of all ages celebrating their mothers.

Ads, like Sport Chek's Mother's Day commercial from last year, can be more personal. In it, Canadian hockey star Meaghan Mikkelson-Reid is engaged in strenuous training, while viewers hear a voice mail message from her mom.

At the other end of the spectrum, Johnson’s Baby launched this ad in time for Mother’s Day 2012.

In a 2009 ad from Columbia, we see a classroom of kids making Mother’s Day cards. The teacher looks confused as a little boy writes what appears to be random letters and presses so hard with the pencil, it almost goes through the paper.

Then we see the boy arriving home to his mother. He turns the paper over so the protruding letters spell “I love you” in Spanish, and his blind mother reads them with her fingers.

That commercial was for a Colombian telecommunications company. Like Google, phone companies have always profited from a surge of business as people reach out to mom on Mother’s Day.

And they’re not alone. Marketers of virtually any Mom-appropriate stuff share in the windfall.

In this ad from last year, we see mothers in various countries reading with their children. Then as the kids finally fall asleep, the type on the screen says, “She gave you the gift of reading. This Mother’s Day, give it back.”

Why are Mother’s Day marketers so eager to make us cry? When we act out of emotion, we’re less rational, less likely to think beforehand, and less likely to be concerned with cost and practicality.

At that point, if an ad suggests we buy something for Mom, it’s almost impossible to resist that suggestion.