Skip flowers on Mother’s Day? How about skipping the negative references instead?
That was the message the Society of American Florists delivered recently to Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company in Maine, which sent an email promotion with the subject line: “Ship Lobster to Mom and skip the flowers!”
After hearing from SAF, Cal Hancock, the company’s founder and president, expressed his regret: “[The email] certainly was not intended to disparage the flower industry. It was intended to be a way of saying Happy Mother’s Day and nothing else. This was the only email of its type in our promotion schedule.”
Hancock even promised to change his advertising approach in the future — and offered up a potential collaboration. “Next year, we should think about collaborating and figure out a way to have our respective industries send both flowers and lobster,” he suggested. “Now that would be a great Mother’s Day gift.”
As the negative publicity watchdog of the industry, the Society of American Florists has contacted a number of companies this year and asked them to reconsider negative approaches in advertising. Among the offenders:
- Best Buy sent an email promotion with the subject line: “Modern Moms want more than flowers.”
- The ESPN Fan Shop powered by Dick’s Sporting Goods promoted: “Forget Flowers. Give Mom what she really wants this Mother’s Day.”
- Fanatics Authentic, an online retailer of licensed sports merchandise, tweeted a photo of dead flowers: “This #MothersDay ❤ give a gift that last forever ;).”
- A TV commercial for Fitbit, a company that produces wireless-enabled activity trackers, shows a flower arrangement and says not to give the same gift.
- An ad by skincare products company Nerium International reads: “What will you give your Mom this Mother’s Day???” It shows a photo of flowers with the words: “… and they DIE!”
- Reebok sent an email with the subject line: “Give Mom Something Other Than Flowers.”
- Fresh grill and wine bar Seasons 52 with 43 locations in 17 states sent an email with the subject line: “Don’t say it with flowers – say it with brunch.”
- Apple computer specialist Simply Mac sent an email that read: “Better than Flowers. Get Mom what she really wants.”
In contacting companies, SAF urges them to promote their products on their own merits, rather than disparaging others. (Read about AmEx’s response to its negative APW promo.)
Last week, SAF reported on its outreach to Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, Garmin, Nest Labs and Shane Co., for their Mother’s Day campaigns.
The Arizona State Florists Association (ASFA) also reached out to Shane Co., which has stores throughout the U.S., with an approach that leveraged something only the floral industry has: the beauty of flowers.
ASFA Education Chair Brian Vetter, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, told SAF: “We sent a beautiful bouquet to our local store with a card that read: ‘We hope you enjoy these beautiful flowers as will many mothers this Mother’s Day. Flowers are a gift many mothers cherish and look forward to, we would appreciate it if in future promotions, you could refrain from berating another industry’s product in an effort to promote your own. Thanks for passing this on to your marketing department, we hope you have a prosperous and profitable Mother’s Week.’”
Vetter’s reply is a great example of taking the “high road” and focusing on the positive, in hopes of getting a positive result. “SAF understands how frustrating flower bashing can be,” said Jenny Scala, SAF’s director of marketing and communications. “But we’ve found that taking a proactive and positive stance is always more effective than being overly critical or threatening.”
Members should report negative portrayals of flowers to SAF’s Jenny Scala at firstname.lastname@example.org.