Marketing lessons in Better Things and the ‘un-motherly’ side of motherhood

Better Things is a show that offers an authentic portrayal of a single mother's life. Beyond its exploration of modern womanhood, familial dynamics and personal growth, Better Things subtly imparts invaluable marketing lessons. Here are a few that brands can keep in mind for Mother’s Day campaigns.

Harshal Thakur
New Update

Mothers are individuals. Regardless of whether you have or have not heard this or if it sounds passé, it is often the subject of glaring ignorance. Everything about motherhood is often a much-talked-about subject except their individuality. To what extent should mothers prioritise their children’s needs over their own? Does motherhood define a woman's entire identity or is there room for individual aspirations and desires beyond the role of a caregiver? What about a single mother? Is a mother allowed to keep aside her caregiving responsibilities when she is the sole earning member of the family? Questions such as these are explored at length in the Pamela Adlon-created and starrer comedy-drama series ‘Better Things’. 

Better Things follows the life of Sam Fox, a single mother and working actress living in Los Angeles, as she navigates the complexities of balancing her professional career with the demands of raising three daughters. The series delves into the everyday challenges and triumphs of Sam's life, from juggling auditions and acting gigs to managing her daughters' varied personalities and navigating the ups and downs of romantic relationships. As Sam strives to pursue her dreams in an industry that often overlooks women of a certain age, she grapples with issues of identity, self-worth, and the ever-present struggle for work-life balance. Through its candid and authentic portrayal of modern womanhood, Better Things explores themes of love, family, friendship, and the pursuit of fulfilment in a fast-paced and unpredictable world.  

While Better Things offers an authentic take on motherhood, if analysed closely, it offers something more. Sam’s juggling of various roles and the show’s overall nature offers insights from a marketing perspective. Amidst its exploration of familial dynamics and personal growth, Better Things subtly imparts invaluable marketing lessons. Here are a few that can be gleaned from the series: 

Authenticity over perfection 

One of the standout aspects of Better Things is its unflinching authenticity. Sam isn't the picture-perfect mom on greeting cards. She's messy, stressed, and sometimes yells. Sam navigates the highs and lows of single motherhood with raw honesty and vulnerability. Better Things challenges traditional gender norms and stereotypes, presenting a nuanced portrayal of female empowerment. Sam is depicted as a flawed yet resilient woman who navigates life on her own terms, unapologetically embracing her authenticity and independence.

Marketing takeaway: Move away from staged perfection. Show real mothers, the struggles, the joys, the imperfections. Brands that embrace authenticity in their messaging and interactions foster genuine connections with their audience.

Focus on the relationship, not just the product

Sam's bond with her daughters is the heart of the show. Her relationships in the show, be it with her mother or her friends, are anything but ingenuine. 

Marketing takeaway: Don't just sell flowers and brunch. Highlight how your product strengthens connection. It could be a shared activity, a gift that fosters togetherness, or a service that makes life easier for mothers.

Humour disarms and connects

As cliche as it sounds (even this phrase is cliche but bear with it for the moment), humour is a powerful tool. Sam uses humour to navigate life's challenges, finding laughter even in the most chaotic moments. A well-timed joke can diffuse tension and connect with viewers.

Marketing takeaway: Incorporate humour that resonates. A funny ad can be memorable and disarm viewers, making them more receptive to your message.

Target the under-targeted

Sam isn't the stereotypical suburban mom. She's working-class, divorced, and raising daughters in a non-traditional way. 

Marketing takeaway: Go beyond the usual demographics. For Mother’s Day, consider single moms, working moms, or moms from diverse backgrounds. They're a valuable market segment with specific needs and desires. 

Diversity and inclusion aren’t just words

Better Things celebrates the diversity of the modern family dynamic, portraying a spectrum of experiences, backgrounds, and identities. 

Marketing takeaway: In the multicultural world, inclusive marketing is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic advantage. Campaigns that reflect the diverse tapestry of motherhood resonate with a broader audience and demonstrate a brand's commitment to inclusivity.

Honour the multifaceted nature of motherhood

Motherhood is multifaceted, encompassing a myriad of roles, responsibilities, and emotions. Better Things captures this complexity with nuance and depth, portraying Sam as a mother, daughter, friend, and professional navigating the intricate tapestry of her life.

Marketing takeaway: Effective Mother's Day marketing acknowledges and honours the diverse roles and identities of mothers, celebrating their resilience, strength, and individuality.

Tap into emotional storytelling

At its core, Better Things is a masterclass in emotional storytelling. The series deftly weaves together moments of humour, heartache, and tenderness, eliciting a range of emotions from its audience.

Marketing takeaway: Emotional storytelling is a powerful tool in marketing, capable of forging deep connections and fostering brand loyalty. Mother's Day campaigns that tap into the universal emotions of love, gratitude, and appreciation resonate on a profound level, leaving a lasting impression on consumers.

mother's day motherhood humour Diversity and Inclusion Better Things Marketing takeaway Emotional storytelling gender norms Pamela Adlon