Skip to content

Father’s Day Fails: Mistakes Advertisers Make When Marketing to Dads

Father’s Day is just around the corner. Marketing for Father’s Day is in full swing and many brands, even if they don’t have a product to sell for Father’s Day, are leveraging this holiday for themed ads and campaigns.

However, there are several pitfalls that marketers fall into when marketing to and about dads. Here are three common Father’s Day Fails that marketers often make:

1. Smarts

Dads are far from bumbling idiots ripe for a quick laugh. While it may be easy to write jokes that play off of this stereotype, frankly, it’s overused and outdated. As Jaime Zucker of Huffpost puts it, “Ultimately, I think men and women alike can agree that the Bumbling Husband trope has seriously negative side-effects in terms of how we understand masculinity.” And she’s right. At this point, the dads of the 2010s are more than ready to be seen realistically as competent and confident.

Cheerios put out a great example of this in 2014 with their #HowToDad campaign.

2. Family

Dads and Moms both want the same thing. And no—it’s not a new toolbox. According to Business Wire, this year most mothers wanted more time with family for Mothers’ Day above any other gift. For dads, it wasn’t much different. Their top gift choice was a vacation and a majority of dads surveyed said they hoped to spend more time with family over the holiday weekend. So instead of falling into the trap of stereotyping a “manly” persona in advertising and product marketing, perhaps market to the “family man” and promote the qualities of a family that spends time together. It’s all about communicating that their values are your values.

Gillette brought this home with their 2016 Father’s Day ad focused on father-son relationships.

3. Style

Dads aren’t classless bums either. The dads of today are stylish—and our advertising needs to reflect that. The overused stereotype of a dad in a t-shirt with coffee stains that practically says “I wear this shirt every day” is inaccurate and quite honestly will not sell. According to Hoffman York, 43% of American men are using personal care products that aren’t just shaving kits. They also report that this year fathers are spending 61% more time on fashion and style than they did last year. So while “Dad Style” might be a stereotype, it’s becoming less and less accurate. Recognize that your audience of dads may know fashion better than you think and may be waiting for someone like you to notice.

In 15 seconds, JC Penney’s 2018 Father’s Day not only markets to family-focused dads, but also points out how stylish dads can be.

Dads deserve to be recognized this Father’s Day, and families across the nation will be doing that. But as marketers, we all can take note of the ways fathers want to and should be recognized this year. The best way to know how to speak to your audience is to listen to them first.

Are there any Father’s Day marketing fails we missed? Do you need help building your marketing portfolio? Please reach out at or follow us on Twitter or Facebook @KearleyAndCo.

Share the Post:

Related Posts