Pandora's Day

This weekend I was on my way to Lowe's to stave off a Mother's Day grill emergency. The grates on my dad's 1978 "vintage" grill had collapsed and the replacement grates simply didn't fit. He was attempting to hold them in place with looked like a long, flimsy metal tube and failing. Badly. There had to be a remedy at the local Big Box so away I went. Along the way, the story of Mother's Day's humble beginnings came burbling from my radio:

Back in 1908, Anna Jarvis sought to honor her recently deceased mother, a Civil War peace activist who had cared for both Union and Confederate soldiers, by having her Minister deliver a sermon in her honor—and the honor of all mothers. The success of that sermon emboldened Ms. Jarvis to write various members of Congress and after a few jokes about having to also institute Mother-In-Law's Day, Mother's Day became an official U.S. holiday six years later. One woman's tireless dedication changed history and the way many of us spend the second Sunday in May.

But that's not the end of the story.

Mother's Day was a big success out of the gate but after a few years, greeting card companies, confectioners, and florists began commercializing Mother's Day and it's popularity grew even more. Ms. Jarvis was appalled. Her creation had morphed into something beyond what she had intended. Later in life Ms. Jarvis even fought to have the holiday rescinded, but to no avail. The cat was out of the bag. The beast was loose. Pandora's Great Big Box of Red Carnations had been opened.

Such is the way of brands. When we release a product or campaign to the world it takes on a life of its own. Sometimes that life is what we hope for—attention, up-take, retention—and sometimes it is decidedly not. Brands need to be tended. They need to be nurtured, and they need to be pruned when necessary. That's where an experienced branding firm or dedicated brand manager can help. A diligent letter writing campaign is just not enough.

Thank you Anna Jarvis for reminding us to remember our mothers. Hallmark Corporation thanks you as well.