Holidays like Mother’s Day can be a joyful family celebration—or salt in the wound for those who are grieving the death of a mother or mother-like figure. What makes it even harder for those who are grieving is the onslaught of holiday e-marketing promotions that start popping up in inboxes in late April telling you what to buy that your mother might love.
While corporate promotions are carefully designed and beta-tested to evoke strong feelings, for many people, that emotion is a sucker-punch of grief. When you’ve experienced the death of someone in your life, ads like these can catch you off guard and serve as a painful reminder of all you have lost.
“Give Mom the love she gave you this Mother’s Day!” (I can’t, because she’s dead.)
“When Mom’s happy, everyone’s happy! Make her happy with this gardening planter.” (I’m sure she would be happy with the planter, but she died.)
Says Jesse Moss, Sr. Marketing Manager of Experience Camps, who grieves the death of her own mother, “We know that businesses are not setting out to do harm with these promotional emails. Until you’ve experienced grief personally, it’s probably not something that you’ve even thought about. But now more than ever, grief is at the forefront of society. Nearly seven million people have died from COVID alone.”
The launch of the “Thoughtful Marketing Movement”
Back in 2019, the company Bloom & Wild created the concept of the “Thoughtful Marketing Movement,” with a mission to bring like-minded brands together in a pledge to practice more thoughtful marketing. One hundred and seventy forward-thinking retailers–including Canva, Away, Etsy, Milk Bar and Pandora–have joined over the years.
These companies send their customers an email offering the chance to say “no” to any holiday emails they don’t wish to receive. This small but thoughtful action can help make the experience of grief a bit (or a lot) less painful. It’s a great and easy way for companies to build more trust and appreciation with customers.
Plus, these companies receive broad organic amplification on social, and glowing media coverage. Even people who don’t want to opt out appreciate the brands’ humanity.
So why aren’t more companies participating? Only 20 companies joined the movement last year. This is in spite of the fact that the pandemic has put grief front and center for so many of us.
Maybe they need to hear from us…
Let’s get as many people as we can to sign the #OfferOptOut petition to let them know this matters to us. We’re not looking to “cancel” companies here; we’re looking to encourage them to show up for us and build deeper relationships.
Could this opt-out strategy hurt companies?
It’s important to state that companies who offer opt outs don’t stop marketing to their customers. It’s just that the messages those customers receive are more personalized since they omit the reference to a painful holiday.
And these brands are not talking to a small number of consumers here. Addressing young people alone, we know that one in five U.S. children will experience the death of someone close to them by age 18; 6 million will mourn the death of a parent or sibling by age 18.
Let’s tell all companies that we want to create a culture that cares about those who are grieving. We are all going to experience grief, each one of us, if we haven’t already. When it’s our time to mourn and heal, we’ll certainly want others showing up for us.
So won’t you take a moment to sign our petition and let companies know this easy lift is one of the best Mother’s Day gifts that companies can offer?
For more information: Contact Michelle Cove, Director of Communications at Experience Camps: email@example.com
Experience Camps is an award-winning national nonprofit that transforms the lives of grieving children through summer camp programs and innovative, year-round initiatives. Through compassion, connection, and play, we allow grieving children to embody a life full of hope and possibility. By amplifying their voices, we are creating a more grief-sensitive culture.