Struggling mums see the funny side in Maltesers ads

It is the Mars brand's latest campaign acknowledging the diversity of women’s experiences.

Maltesers is focusing on maternal mental health in a campaign timed to coincide with International Women’s Day.

The campaign, created by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, aims to encourage a more open dialogue about mothers’ mental health and the highs and lows of early parenthood. It was developed in partnership with Comic Relief and takes a light-hearted and candid look at the spectrum of emotions that new mums experience. 

Two ads, which will launch on Monday (8 March) across TV and digital channels, depict humorous conversations between women who are grappling with the unexpected challenges of motherhood.

In the first (above), a woman complains of her sore nipples while breast-feeding, while in the second a mother reveals her leaking breasts as her mother-in-law overstays her welcome. 

Maltesers has a multi-year partnership with Comic Relief and, over the next three years, will donate to charities supporting maternal mental health, such as The Happy Mums Foundation and Smile Group.

The Mars Wrigley brand is also running a social media campaign exploring the "lighter" and "darker" sides of motherhood. It will include bespoke Giphy stickers, social posts and Instagram Stories, and encourage mums to share their personal experiences.

The work was created by Verity Fenner, Vanessa Robinson, Jez Tribe and Dave Westland, and directed by Ally Pankiw through Partizan. MediaCom is the media agency. 

Leah Dyckes, brand director of Maltesers UK, said this campaign is just the start of the brand tackling this issue. More activity is planned around Maternal Mental Health Month in May and throughout the next year. 

“What we’ve heard is how motherhood is this real spectrum of emotions which can change on a daily basis. We really want to start the conversation and get mums to recognise the importance of that and saying it is okay to ask for help – to encourage talking about tougher stuff and take away that stigma,” Dyckes said. 

Research from the Maternal Mental Health Alliance shows that more than one in 10 women experiences mental-health issues during pregnancy or within the first year of having a baby. But many of those women – seven in 10 – hide or underplay its severity. 

Maltesers has a history of taking a light-hearted approach to taboo subjects and making greater efforts to acknowledge the diversity of women’s experiences in its advertising. 

In 2016, the brand won Channel 4’s inaugural Diversity in Advertising competition, receiving £1m worth of airtime for a campaign featuring people with disabilities. Maltesers’ ads included a woman with cerebral palsy talking about an awkward sexual encounter. 

Then in 2018, Maltesers set its sights on tackling the inequality of gender representation in advertising, with two spots about the menopause and a lesbian’s dating life. 

“All those ads have shown the power of female friendship. We’ve heard how women use laughter as their superpower to cope, build and heal and that’s how they get through life and the tough stuff,” Dyckes said. 

A campaign about maternal mental health was “the natural next step”, she added: “Typically when Maltesers are enjoyed it’s when you’re with your friends and you're sharing and talking about life and its challenges. So in many ways this felt like natural territory for us, showing the power of laughter and friendship.”

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