Do Father's Day Campaigns Actually Impact Purchase Decisions?



Bill Cooper



Dear Advertiser,

As an individual I am generally a needs-based consumer. If I have a hole in my socks I get new ones and if I have a function coming up whereby my well-worn and trusted suit just won’t cut it any more I buy a new one. I’m pretty straightforward and hard to market to in terms of influencing my buying habits in my hour of ‘need’.

That said, if you can influence me enough through my general media consumption, I guess the hope is that the recollection and latent memory of your messages to me through advertising will influence me while I am engaged in my typically rushed and reactionary (because I am needs-based) shopping. And that is a tall order because urgency and a quick fix are in the process of occupying a huge portion of my purchase motivation. So you need to tell me a powerful story or deliver a memorable chuckle in order to break through my rushed retail tendencies and cause me to reach for your product.

As a father I am an absolute sucker for the rare occasions when my kids (or spouse for that matter!) choose to and/or show enthusiasm for some of my eccentric past times and hobbies.

So as I opine over the sudden creative enthusiasm we are seeing from advertisers around Father’s Day and images of dad and daughter or dad and kids, I want to weave those two insights about me as a consumer together.

Firstly I would say that messaging to me more directly is working. As a father I am more attentive to creative that depicts stories, scenes and actors doing things I can relate to. But the ones that start to break through fall in two clear categories:

  • Ones that make me chuckle louder (but that is a daunting category given the variance in people’s respective sense of humour) and in this category I must give a nod to Canadian Tire’s ads depicting the Father’s Day gift self-help group;
  • And ones that depict a father and child engaged in activity in which both father and child are obviously invested with great passion, emotion or energy. In this category I must give a nod to Sport Chek for telling the story of how dads can so deeply impact and influence their children’s success.

To the extent my buying habits represent a consumer segment, I would say that Father’s Day creative born from a thematic such as these and captured in a story well told will have a decent chance at breaking through during my next panicked transaction and ultimately influence what I reach for. Until then though, I’ll keep wearing the socks until they have nothing left to give!


A needs-based consumer who happens to be a father


Bart_Given_Web101 Bart Given, Managing Director of TORQUE Strategies
This is such an interesting topic.

As a marketer I love to experience and share great creative or activations that truly connect. Despite being skeptical at the best of times, brands can connect with me as a son, as a sport fan, a Canadian, a citizen of Earth and often as a music lover – but rarely do they connect with me as a Father.

And I find the advertising and activities around Father’s Day have a varying impact on me or my behaviour. In my opinion, brands don’t make much of an effort to connect with Dads around Father’s Day, they are instead trying to influence Moms and kids. I get it though, Dads aren’t the decision-maker/purchaser around Father’s Day – the rest of the family is.

So In Bill’s example above (love the open letter Coop). Canadian Tire’s advertising is really aimed at educating families to not get Dad an unwanted tie – but something he really wants. Something from “Dad’s Paradise” – namely Canadian Tire. It’s likely effective. It does have a touch of humour, it’s a simple message and it make sense that Canadian Tire would be doing this. No question my eight-year old would be influenced by this type of advertising. (I wonder…)

But the fact Bill (and I’m sure several other Dads) like it, is a by-product. Bill is a convert already.

I too like Canadian Tire – but it’s more functional than aspirational for me.

Same goes for the gluttony of emails and banner ads promising Father’s Day Sales. I don’t feel special because your brand is having a sale this weekend – and as much as I like shopping (I really do), this is not the weekend for me to be buying clothes or tires.

My suggestion for brands to connect with me as a father – don’t sell to me on Father’s Day. Instead celebrate Dads, tell me a story, and I’ll develop loyalty to your product that will influence behaviour the remaining 364 Days a year.

In short: Do this.

Better yet, do all of the above and support a cause like Big Brothers to anchor your commitment.

My two cents.