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Happy Mother’s Day: Mothers and Children in Our Ads Through the Years

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By Margaret Gurowitz
May 11, 2012

Sunday, May 13th is Mother’s Day in the U.S. and in many other countries.  Most countries celebrate some form of Mother’s Day, with celebrations ranging from February for Norway to December for Panama and Indonesia.  In the U.S., Mother’s Day has been celebrated nationally since a 1914 proclamation by President Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday.  Since then, it’s been an opportunity to celebrate the central role that mothers play in their family’s lives.  In recognition of that, advertising from the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies has reflected the special role of mothers for more than 90 years.

Mother using Johnson & Johnson First Aid supplies to care for one of her children, 1917, from our archives.

Johnson & Johnson has made products used for and by mothers for over 100 years, such as maternity kits and health information to make childbirth safer, and baby products, wound care and first aid products used to care for children.  In fact, it was a consumer idea – likely from women consumers – that led to JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder in 1894, and to the Company’s entire baby products business.  JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder quickly became a trusted product in households, and parents – mothers and fathers – wrote to Johnson & Johnson and sent pictures of their babies and toddlers posing with JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder tins on a regular basis during the early 1900s.

Babies posing with JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder tins, from our archives

The Company has acknowledged its special relationship with mothers and fathers in a variety of ways over the years.  One of those ways has been through advertising.

Wonderful Mother ad from 1922

One of the first Johnson & Johnson ads featuring a mother and children was the Wonderful Mother ad of 1922, still one of our most popular print ads even though it’s 90 years old.  The ad, inspired by a quote from none other than Abraham Lincoln, celebrated the special role that mothers play in their children’s lives.  The ad struck a chord with the public and, since then, mothers and babies have been a feature of our consumer advertising.

Fragile...Handle with JOHNSON’S® ad from the 1950s, from our archives
Undated ad for JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder, featuring a mother and baby, from our archives
JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder ad from the early 1980s featuring a mom and baby

Here’s the latest television ad in that long tradition:

Happy Mother’s Day!

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