E-tailers pursue the mother lode on Mother's Day

By Published on .

America's sons and daughters are getting plenty of Mother's Day reminders this year, as Internet retailers such as Blue Nile, Giftcertificates.com and cooking.com move to build the day into one of their top-selling holidays.

"It's one of the big three" holidays for Web retailers--and jewelers in particular--said Carter Cast, senior VP-marketing of online diamond dealer Blue Nile, ranking it just behind Christmas and Valentine's Day. "American families are not in the same location anymore," he said, making online gift buying a convenient option.

Last year, e-commerce ratings company BizRate.com monitored Web purchasing activity in the weeks preceding and following Mother's Day. It found that online spending in the gift category jumped 322% during the week of Mother's Day compared to a baseline week.


Blue Nile has launched a TV campaign primarily on cable and on male-targeted programming in eight spot markets. The commercials, from Leagas Delaney, San Francisco, show a father and his son berating a second son for surprising them--and Mom--with a diamond for Mother's Day. In the final scene, the father is shown holding the gift he bought Mom--a rake.

For Mother's Day, many dot-coms are departing from the outrageous ad tactics that made them famous, mounting more conservative, emotional pitches.

Giftcertificates.com has launched an ad campaign from Grey Worldwide, New York, featuring actress Sophia Lauren. In the spots, Ms. Lauren discusses how she taught her sons "love should be forever" and "gifts are from the heart." The site sells gift certificates redeemable online at other Internet retailers' Web sites.

Cooking.com is running a radio campaign in which the announcer notes that Mother has been nurturing you since you were born. Why not buy her some pots so she can keep it up? Saatchi & Saatchi, San Francisco, is the agency.


Brick-and-mortar retailers also are backing the holiday with some new twists. In a creative shift, Sears, Roebuck & Co. adds humor and onscreen dialogue to its promotional message.

A new commercial from Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago and New York, shows a man and his son shopping for a dress for Mother. When an attractive woman goes by wearing a different Sears dress, they decide to buy that one instead.

Other Sears Mother's Day spots, running through May 12, feature dishwashers, fine jewelry and fragrances.

Sears also is targeting African-Americans in an execution from Burrell Communications Group, Chicago. The International Mass Retail Association indicates minorities spend more on Mother's Day than whites do--$101 compared with $68.

Copyright May 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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