Father’s Day is less than a month away, and, like Mother’s Day, consumers are looking to spend big bucks to show their loved ones how much they are appreciated. Last year, spending on Father’s Day was estimated to surpass $14 billion in the U.S., which equates to over $125 average spending for the holiday.
With over 75% of Americans celebrating Father’s Day, it’s a huge opportunity for brands to bring out a more human side to their business and connect with consumers on a personal level. Creating marketing messages that are less about product promotion and more about showing gratitude to the important people in our lives is a way to not only show compassion, but to build rapport with target audiences.
Sure, there are plenty of ads out there promoting the “best gifts for Dad,” whether it’s a new set of golf clubs, tickets to a sporting event, or the latest in tech. Now more than ever, we see companies and ad agencies portraying men as dimwitted, incapable and often forgetful. However, the ones that really resonate with consumers, both now and long-term, are those that focus on the real meaning of Father’s Day. Even brands that typically take a more lighthearted approach to marketing often set aside the norm for a more heartfelt message.
Now don’t get me wrong, companies still emphasize their branding throughout these ads; they just tend to be more subtle and less focused on the product or service they want you to buy. These advertisements pull at our heartstrings, make us laugh, and, most importantly, relate to our lives. If a brand can relate to its audience, don’t you think the audience is more likely to purchase from them?
Let’s take a look at some of the best examples of Father’s Day marketing to-date.
This ad from 2015 has been recognized on countless digital media outlets for its realness and relatability. To create it, Dove took to the internet and collected real video footage of the moments when 12 men found out they were going to be a father. From wives presenting them with their pregnancy test, to others surprising them with baby clothes or gifts, the priceless looks on their faces can’t help but make you shed some of those feel-good tears.
Dove Men+Care’s message throughout their marketing campaigns focuses on making a man stronger to take care of his family, and this theme shines through at the end of the ad with the tagline, “Real strength means showing you care, even from the very first moment.” It’s a great way to connect with those who may not be fathers quite yet, but are looking forward to being one in the future, as well as reminding current fathers of how excited they were when they first found out this life-changing news.
In 2014, Cheerios took a new spin on what it’s like to be a dad. With a nice layer of humor added in, the father and main character of this commercial gives the audience a “Ferris Bueller” like monologue breaking down the fourth wall with the viewer. As he makes his way through the house on a typical morning routine, getting his kids up for school, performing quick daily chores and interacting with his family takes place. All the while, he’s telling us, “how to dad.”
The effectiveness of this ad is found in the truthful humor of his monologue. Most fathers don’t know “how to dad” straight from the get go. It’s not a lost cause though. The Dad’s reassuring tone and confidence in his parenting abilities is relatable for current dads, encouraging for fathers to be and honest for those who may not fall in either category.
DICK’S Sporting Goods
This Father’s Day ad from 2012 focuses on the common father-son bond over playing and watching sports. Like his father did for him, this father serves as a lifelong coach and supporter for his son playing football. Shown through the acts of helping his son run drills and work out (while providing encouragement along the way), it’s clear how much the father is respected and appreciated. It all leads up to the high school senior game, where his son remembers all of the help and advice his father gave him over the years.
The ad speaks to the tradition of parents passing down their interests and talents to their children, and how these commonalities bring them together. It’s a story that any father can relate to, and sheds light on the family pastimes that are shared for generations.
Of the ads featured, Google has the most overt product promotion, but the storyline and message still greatly overshadow any push to use their internet browser and email services. This ad from 2011 shows a father setting up a Gmail account for his soon-to-be-born daughter, Sophie. He starts sending her emails when he first finds out he’s going to be a father and continues throughout her early childhood, documenting baby pictures and other memories like losing her first tooth, taking dance lessons, and going on family vacations.
In the final email, he explains how he’s been regularly sending her these memories since before she was born, and how he can’t wait to share them with her once she gets a little older. It’s an ad that’s relatable to any father as they realize how quickly their children grow up and reflect on the lifetime of memories they’ve made.
Hotels by Courtyard/NFL
Here’s an ad that on the surface is totally irrelevant. It goes without saying, (but we’ll say it anyway) most dads are not NFL superstars. Most dads don’t live a life of celebrity and wealth like the dads featured in this commercial. Dads don’t typically get recognized on the streets by other grown adult males and asked for their autograph or for a selfie. This IS the typical life of those who grace the gridiron. So, why is this such a great ad? For starters, it makes the mythical men look relatable to regular joe schmo dads. When they interview their kids about their dads, they give the same answers any other kids would give. Some don’t even know what their dads do or what teams they play for.
A child’s love for their dads is not exclusive to those who lace up the cleats on Sundays. Every day, everywhere across the country, kids are loving their dads in the same way these kids do. On top of it all, these men seemingly have what every guy wants most, but they get as much enjoyment out of their kids as anyone else.
Appealing to consumer emotions is often the primary focus of holiday advertising, and Father’s Day gives us the opportunity to acknowledge the important male figures in our lives. These ads were so successful because of how relatable they were. There weren’t any outlandish scenarios, or complex settings; the focus remained on what Father’s Day is all about. These ads are proof brands don’t have to have a self-centered mentality all the time to be successful. By taking a step back and creating a more relatable dialogue, they ultimately positioned themselves more positively in the minds of their customers.