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Motherly Advice Posted On Billboards Across New York City


Mothers are sharing a lot of thoughts and advice around New York City right now on a barrage of billboards posters and signs. Here are mothers from the ALL THINGS CONSIDERED staff reading some of them.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: I didn't go nine months without Chardonnay for you to hate your job. Love, mother.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Tell your therapist nice things about me. Love, mother.

SIEGEL: And the always useful...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #3: Be the kind of person your online dating profile promises. Love, mother.

SIEGEL: And there are more. Some of the messages are accompanied by a photograph presumably of the woman behind those wise words. And behind every mother, at least in this campaign, is an ad man - in this case, Paul Malmstrom. He is co-founder of the agency Mother New York. We've reached him on Skype. Welcome to the program.

PAUL MALMSTROM: Thank you very much.

SIEGEL: And so are the women in the photos actually the women behind the words printed with them?

MALMSTROM: Yes, they are. And those women are mothers, the employees of Mother's mothers. And, you know, there are varying vintage of those photos. Some are more current than others. But, yes, they came from those people for sure.

SIEGEL: Where did this idea come from?

MALMSTROM: We actually do something for Mother's Day every year because of our name. And also everybody had a photo of their mom printed on their business card, and we wanted to take this concept to the next level by unleashing them on New York and giving their wisdom a purpose and a voice.

SIEGEL: So the Mother's Day season is a moment for much institutional advertising from your agency in New York.

MALMSTROM: Exactly for ourselves.

SIEGEL: I liked one of the bits of motherly advice. I know you're so busy on that phone, you don't have time to call me was one of them.

MALMSTROM: Yeah (laughter) exactly. In fact, one of the years we actually created a phone service for busy sons and daughters where you as a child could preorder a call to your mom with a telemarketer pretending to be you on the other end.

SIEGEL: What a sweet thought to hire a substitute child for your mother to hear from on Mother's Day.


SIEGEL: I hear that the staff gets the day off on Monday in honor of the Mother's Day weekend.

MALMSTROM: Yeah. It makes sense to us. If you're called Mother, you have certain values that goes with that name that should get an extra day off around Mother's Day, so, yes, we are closed on Monday.

SIEGEL: There are some places where you've planted a message from mother for a specific setting, for example, at a dog park.

MALMSTROM: It says I picked up yours, you pick up theirs. Love, mother.

SIEGEL: (Laughter) Can one work at Mother New York if you have a really terrible relationship with your mother? Is that possible?

MALMSTROM: Oh, absolutely. But a motherly figure, a maternal figure in your life doesn't necessarily have to be a female genetically relating to you. It could be someone else in your life that was your role model in that sense.

SIEGEL: Oh, you're allowed a substitution. You're allowed to...

MALMSTROM: Yeah. We're a modern company.

SIEGEL: You're a modern company (laughter). I see. But does - has anyone put a, you know - a celebrity picture on their business card at Mother New York?

MALMSTROM: No. I think everyone so far has a good enough relationship with their mom, so they've taken their actual images of their actual biological mom. Although, people have strange choices sometimes. There've been - one mom I remember she was, I think, a Playboy bunny, so she was up there with her ears and and lightly dressed. And some are more conservative, so it spans the gamut.

SIEGEL: Well, Paul Malmstrom, a co-founder of Mother New York, an ad agency, thanks for talking with us. Can you leave us one more piece of wisdom from a mother that you've distributed?

MALMSTROM: Yes. Thank you first. One other advice that we got I thought was pretty fun was you can do anything in life except that skirt with those shoes. Love, mother.

SIEGEL: (Laughter). Thanks for talking with us. For Mother's Day, the agency created a series of words of advice that come from real mothers. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.