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#BodyProudMums | Mothercare | McGarryBowen
Download Download JPG | 2746x1941px
Industry: Retail & Distribution
Style: Minimalism

British parenting retailer, Mothercare, has always led the field, but recently, they’ve struggled to maintain relevance.

Mothercare needed to transform by reconnecting with values that were historically at the core of their brand - empathy for parents.

This transformation centred around:

1) Shifting focus from baby to parents
The category focuses on the baby - dad barely features and mum is often cropped out of the imagery (something we’ve labelled the Anne Boleyn Effect). With all the focus on the baby, parents’ needs are neglected - we forget a new baby means a new parent. If Mothercare can help parents during their first tentative steps into parenthood then those parents will be better placed to look after their little ones.

2) Better representation of the spectrum of parents
Having a child unites all (irrespective of religion, creed, gender). But parental representation in advertising has been very narrow to date - stylised, idealised, whitewashed and airbrushed. No surprise that 41% of parents don’t feel represented by brands (primary research). Mothercare want to better reflect the spectrum of parenting experiences.

These two pivots put care for parents at the heart of Mothercare and this brief was to bring these values to life.

Describe the cultural/social/political climate in your region and the significance of your campaign within this context

Women’s bodies are still overtly sexualised, objectified, airbrushed, and held to unattainably high beauty standards in the western media. This stands true even in representations of women straight after birth. An honest portrayal of the postpartum body, with all its variations: c-section scars, stretch-marks, loose skin, baby weight and umbilical hernias; has *never* been shown in advertising.

During pregnancy a woman’s body undergoes an incredible transformation to create life and post-birth it undergoes another (little-mentioned) one - dealing with your body without a baby. Not only does this leave women feeling empty, deflated and saggy but they’re also under incredible pressure to “lose the baby weight” and magically return to how they looked before - a pressure intensified by the media, the washboard abs of celebrities who “bounce-back” and the before and after shots that pervade social media.

Our research found 80% of mothers compare their bodies to unrealistic ideals, and yet we never see an honest portrayal in the media. This gap between representation and reality creates unhealthy comparisons and is a major contributor to postnatal depression. In fact, 80% of mums attribute feelings of inadequacy to the lack of realistic images of post-birth bodies in the media.

Describe the creative idea

Mothers have undergone a major transformation to create life. A feat to be celebrated, rather than a source of shame or inadequacy. For Mothercare, part of supporting parents is demonstrating an understanding of the issues they face and ensuring they are fairly and realistically represented.

#BodyProudMums took the bold step of smashing advertising and social media conventions of only showing perfect snapback bodies. Instead, the reality of the postpartum body, in all of its different glorious manifestations, is on display, normalising each individual’s experience and celebrating how incredible their bodies truly are. This point is hammered home with the simple headline ‘Beautiful, isn’t she.’, directly challenging the viewer to reconsider their preconceptions of beauty, and how women are represented.

This would spark positive and necessary conversation about the postpartum body and the representation of women, and reassure mothers they’re not alone, helping them feel confident in their own, miraculous bodies.

Describe the strategy

Our proprietary research unearthed some worrying statistics.

80% of mothers compare themselves to those around them, and images in the media.

81% of mums attribute feelings of inadequacy to the lack of realistic images of post-birth bodies in the media.

78% of mums think unrealistic body ideals can be a factor in postnatal depression.

53% of mums feel in competition with other mums on social media to return to their pre-pregnancy body.

57% of mums feel embarassed by how pregnancy has affected their bodies.

If the reality of the postpartum body is *never* represented, and all mothers see are images of celebrities and other mothers “bouncing back”, this creates feelings of inadequacy and contributes to postnatal depression.

The strategy was to stop the “bounce-back” body myths from winning, tackling this “reality gap” head-on by sparking a positive conversation about the postpartum body with new mums, dads, and body-positivity activists.

Describe the execution

It was vital that we reflect real mums with a diverse range of post-birth bodies. Having held open casting calls, the campaign launched with a series of ten portraits for a 2 week period across the London Underground, PR, social and the mothercare website.

Our photographer pledged in 2017 not to digitally manipulate skin in her work. We chose her for this photographic honesty, simplicity of style, and critically, her ability to capture the pure emotion of non-professional sitters.

The execution is ruthlessly pared back. The simple statement ‘Beautiful, isn’t she.’ provokes, while the mother’s name and weeks postpartum tell the viewer this is a real mum.

Where appropriate, the portraits were accompanied by the mothers’ stories. These personal accounts of how the mothers felt about their bodies were hand-written in journals while on the shoot and further enhance the empathy and emotional connection with all mothers.

Describe the results/impact

Results to date:

50x the reach we paid for. 787 million total impressions, of which only 15.5 million were paid.

Cost per potential reach = £0.0002

Facebook brand uplift survey showed +12.44pts in brand awareness (average 7.44pts) - Facebook said they’d never seen results like this.

People loved it. Extensively engaging with the campaign which led to an uplift in brand metrics:
19% uplift in "Mothercare is a brand that cares for parents”
20% uplift in "Mothercare understands parenting issues”
18% uplift in "Mothercare is a brand I love”

+2.8% market share increase from the period immediately before the campaign

Our mothers responded to the campaign:
“I needed to see this today”
“It makes me feel human again”
“This campaign helps me realize I am not alone”

Not bad for a campaign that only cost £157,212 all-in (media, creative, and PR)
Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2019
Shortlist Glass: The Lion for Change
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