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Why opting out of Father's Day campaigns can be detrimental for adland

Why opting out of Father's Day campaigns can be detrimental for adland

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We don't know about you, but here at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, June is incredibly special as we honour the paternal figures in our lives over Father's Day, which we celebrated this weekend. So, imagine our surprise this week when we reached out to multiple agencies and learnt that many of them were not planning Father's Day activations and campaigns for their clients and brands.

Now admittedly, Father's Day has notoriously received less fanfare over the years as compared to Mother's Day. Typically, brands tend to celebrate the day with food-related discounts and customary greetings on social media pages while Mother's Day sees brands pulling out all the stops with campaigns, heart-warming brand films and new product launches

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So why exactly do brands place less of a focus on fathers especially as we approach a cultural stage in society where gender equality and the role of a father are both heavily emphasised upon?

The lackluster celebrations could likely be attributed to the fact that brands tend to cater to what the market responds to, and in most cases, mothers and women in general are more receptive to emotional celebrations, according to Joey Gan, the Malaysia market lead for PRecious Communications.

There are numerous ways to pamper, treat, and celebrate moms throughout the entire day, she noted. This allows more brands to participate, each with their own unique proposition, to make the day even more special. In contrast, Gan said, when it comes to celebrating our fathers, there isn't as much excitement compared to the enthusiastic response from mothers.

She said:

Practical gestures and gifts tend to be the preferred approach for dads. As a result, the opportunities for marketing gimmicks in this space are relatively limited.

Ultimately, it all boils down to understanding what the market responds to, added Gan. "It's truly heartening to witness a shift in societal norms where child-rearing is no longer seen as the sole responsibility of mothers. Progress is evident when fathers are actively involved in changing diapers, accompanying their daughters to ballet classes, and even handling daily grocery shopping. However, these changes don't alter the fundamental nature of men and how they appreciate being valued," Gan noted. 

While sticking to tools, gadgets, and practical ways of expressing love for our dads may have some impact, it won't go far enough. To establish a strong resonance and connection with fathers, brands must delve deeper than simply providing a reason for gift-giving, she advised. 

"As the society matures in redefining relationships with parents, brands too must reevaluate how they engage with their audience, going beyond superficial measures and establishing meaningful connections," she said. 

Shaping gender norms

True enough, the campaigns and marketing efforts we see around us heavily influences how we interpret the world and the stereotypes we form about gender roles and norms. 

In 2019, the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) put forth a new rule in its advertising codes stating that ads "must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence."

The change followed a review of gender stereotyping in ads by the ASA. The review found evidence suggesting that harmful stereotypes can "restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, young people and adults and these stereotypes can be reinforced by some advertising, which plays a part in unequal gender outcomes."

"It would be wonderful to see brands actively contribute to promoting gender equality in parenting. It's important for society as a whole to acknowledge and support the idea that parenting responsibilities should be shared equally between both parents," noted Gan. "By encouraging and showcasing diverse and inclusive family dynamics in their marketing strategies, brands can play a significant role in shaping societal perceptions. It would be truly impactful to witness brands taking a stand and actively working towards dismantling gender stereotypes, fostering an environment where fathers are celebrated and involved in all aspects of family life."

Cultural and societal traditions do exert a significant influence on brand decisions, agreed Jan Harling, the CEO of Virtus Asia Consulting. In many cultures, Mother's Day has been traditionally celebrated with more prominence and attention compared to Father's Day, he said. "These cultural norms and expectations shape consumer behavior and perception, providing brands with an incentive to align their campaigns with established traditions."

The influence of previous campaign successes also cannot be underestimated, said Harling. "Brands closely analyse the outcomes and consumer responses to their past campaigns. If a brand has experienced remarkable success with Mother's Day campaigns, such as generating substantial brand awareness, high levels of engagement, and increased sales, they are going to be more inclined to allocate resources and efforts towards this occasion," he said. 

However, Harling noted that it is important to acknowledge the changing dynamics of fatherhood and the growing influence of fathers as customers and consumers.

"With fathers taking on more active roles in their child’s life and making up a significant segment of consumers, there is an opportunity for brands to embrace inclusivity and recognise the importance of fatherhood," he said. "By crafting well-thought-out and meaningful Father's Day campaigns, they can engage with a wider audience and create lasting connections with fathers and their families."

He added: 

It is essential to bridge the gap to reflect the changes society has already made and brands have a role to play in telling these stories.

Related articles:
Singtel tugs at heartstrings with Father's Day ad
Brands in Asia get creative with Father's Day 2020 celebrations
How brands got creative on social for Father's Day 2019

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