This Mother’s Day, give your mother justice

Who: The Canadian Women’s Foundation with Hard Work Club for creative (more on them below) and Fela for production (Kimberley Veitch directing).

What: “The Mother Rising,” an evocative—and sometimes gritty—90-second portrayal of moms, published just in time for Mother’s Day and containing a core message of justice for moms.

When & Where: This is a digital only effort, with donated media and strategic outreach to mom influencers known for their realistic and honest content relating to motherhood.

Why: The Canadian Women’s Foundation exists to fight for women and against gender inequality. That inequality has been amplified for many women during the pandemic. “There’s never been a more important time to focus on diverse mothers and family caregivers in Canada,” says Andrea Gunraj, vice president of public engagement at the Canadian Women’s Foundation, in a release. “The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on them has been dire, especially for those facing multiple barriers such as racism, poverty, and gender-based violence.”

Meanwhile the creative founders of Hard Work Club, Meghan Kraemer and  Christian Buer, had been thinking a lot about this issue. They reached out to the CWF with the idea for a new Mother’s Day video that Kraemer said would really “disrupt how mothers are portrayed, and really put out a challenge for people to rise up for mothers and give them some of the equality and justice that is so overdue.” CWF liked the idea, and Hard Work Club had its first assignment.

How: The ad shows a series of mothers and their children in moments that cover the emotional spectrum, from happy and sad, to pensive and dancing with joy, complete with an anguished silent scream by one. A voiceover delivers a call for justice for mothers, to help them rise. “Because when mothers rise, they lift the world,” she says.

The goal was a different, more realistic depiction of motherhood, said Kraemer. They wanted to avoid the cliches and tropes of so much Mothers Day advertising in a year unlike any other. The ad is not about flowers and chocolates for mom. “A bath bomb is not enough this year,” said Kraemer.

“We wanted strength to come through at every turn in this campaign,” she added. “For the moms to look strong, and for the call to be strong. We didn’t just want it to be like, ‘Show mom that you care.’ We wanted it to be something provocative, to really show how much that equality for mothers is needed.”

The use of the word justice: “We had a lot of really good conversations about that,” said Kraemer. In the past year, the word has been used a lot in the fight against systemic racism.

“We felt like we had permission to go there and use that heavy of a word because Canadian Women’s Foundation is the real deal,” she said. It works hard to affect real change and correct some of the many inequalities and injustices faced by mothers, and marginalized mothers in particular. All those who are unpaid and underpaid, justice for all those who have been disproportionately hurt by the pandemic, and for the associated depression and anxiety. “You hear [justice] and you almost have a visceral response, like that means something.”

It’s personal: “In some ways this campaign is the most personal [work] I’ve ever created,” said Kraemer, herself a mother of two young children. This industry still makes it hard for working moms to balance their professional ambitions with the realities of being a mother. It’s also an industry where women are still under-represented in creative, and therefore many young mothers feel they lack allies and mentors.

“When I was pregnant with my first daughter I carried around a copy of Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk’s book Darling You Can’t Do Both, and I was super engrossed in the path of the few female creative directors I knew in the city,” said Kraemer. “I was following them and trying to understand how they did it.”

And what’s Hard Work Club: A new ad agency in Toronto. “I literally just changed my LinkedIn title five minutes ago,” said Kraemer. The creative duo of Kraemer and Buer are joined by Cameron Stark, partner, growth and operations.

“We want to create the best work of our lives, free from the complications and roadblocks some traditional agency models present,” said Buer. “We want to work with like-minded clients and organizations that align with our values and desire to do things differently. Category disruption is the stuff our dreams are made of.”

David Brown