Most Impactful Father’s Day Campaigns We’ve Ever Seen

The idea of fatherhood has changed so much in the last few decades. Where the 80s and 90s presented dads in the form of Tony Danza in Who’s the Boss? and Alan Thicke in Growing Pains, the year 2023 reveals that every father is unique, as is his parenting style. 

This is true for advertising campaigns too. While there are still a lot of traditional “dad is my hero” type movements out there, the world is seeing fathers with totally new eyes. Brands have learned how to read the room when creating their marketing materials and are pushing boundaries on how we honor our fathers and father figures. 

As we approach Father’s Day 2023, we’re looking at the seven most impactful campaigns dedicated to dads, and breaking down why we believe they work so well. 

Dollar Shave Club – Dad Bod 

Every dad’s parenting style is as unique as his ‘dadbod’. And Dollar Shave Club, always the type of brand to push the envelope, chose to celebrate each father’s unique figure (see what we did there?) in their 2019 campaign.

The company identified a problem many kids have in common: what do you buy your dad for Father’s Day? And created a first-of-its-kind DadBod Gift Set to make celebrating their papas a little easier. The campaign features a group of men dancing around in towels, robes, and underwear, each under a spotlight, allowing viewers to see them in all their daddy glory. The video ends with a simple message: “Whatever your bod, welcome to the club.” 

The video was featured on TV, social as well as online channels, making a huge splash, which is exactly what we’d expect from this edgy brand. 

Cheerios –  #HowToDad

Cheerio’s 2014 “How to Dad” campaign was celebrated upon release as one of the most realistic looks into what it means to be a father. Positioning itself as a parenthood partner, Cheerios created the campaign in Canada as part of its new flavor release: peanut butter Cheerios. 

The ad follows a typical morning where the main character, called “dad” breezes through the house, waking up the kids, getting them ready for the day, and explaining exactly what makes fathers such special figures in our lives. From dress-up to dad jokes, the ad touches on all of the things that feel so uniquely “fatherish” while subtly reminding us that cereal is a pretty essential part of every kid’s morning. 

The ad has been compared by many to the Dove Real Beauty campaign of 2013, which aimed to show a woman’s many different sides, sizes, and shapes. As for this Father’s Day commercial, we really loved that it’s not overly emotional like so many releases around this time of year but plucks at the heartstrings in a more subtle way. 

Courtyard Hotels – Father’s Day Smiles

It’s not uncommon for brands to use kids in commercials. Kids are so touchingly honest and genuinely funny, that it’s easy to draw viewers in when you have them on screen. Courtyard Hotels capitalized on this in a warm and real way. In their 2016 Father’s Day campaign, they revealed what famous American football stars’ kids had to say about their dads. And the results are heartwarming. 

From “he gives me hugs and kisses” of one small boy to “I think I can beat my dad at football” of an older lad, the dads listening in on their kids’ interviews were moved by what their offspring had to say. The fathers walked into the interview rooms, hugged their kids, and the ad slowly drew to its finale message: “Celebrating the most important job: being a dad.” 

Emotional ads like this one have become fairly typical, but there’s a reason that Courtyard Hotels, and other brands like it, keep using them. They work. 

Google Chrome – Dear Sophie

Part of a larger campaign titled “The Web Is What You Make It”, this ad showcases what a girl’s life could be, as seen through her dad’s eyes and documented digitally using all of Google Chrome’s products. Starting with a Gmail framework, featuring the dad’s message and a pic of newborn Sophie, the ad takes us on a linear journey that could – in our opinion – have been a standalone short film. 

The ad is so smart in its simplicity, showcasing the myriad ways to use Google Chrome, from Maps to YouTube, while taking us on an emotional rollercoaster of Sophie’s highs and lows. What we found impressive is not just the ad itself but how effective it was too. 

The ad was measured on the Ace Metrix database and scored 140 points higher than any others of the 11,000 stored there. What does this mean in layman’s terms? That it had a huge impact on viewers, connecting with them on a very emotional level and creating more top-of-mind awareness for the brand. Oh, and it also won a gold 2012 Clio Award. 

Gillette – Go Ask Dad

Gillette reveals an impactful statistic at the beginning of this ad, created for Father’s Day 2017. Apparently, 94% of teens would rather run an internet search than turn to their fathers for the answers they need. Wanting to know everything from how to cook an egg to how they’ll know when they fall in love, the children shown in this commercial try to follow internet instructions with little success. 

Things change significantly when the dads are brought into the room, and the young men are encouraged to get their fathers’ advice on the same questions. This really hit home for us, especially when considering that advice from the internet can only ever be generic while having your dad in front of you offers personalized answers based on your real-life actions. 

One of the most interesting things about this commercial is that while shaving does feature, the brand’s message is not “Go buy more razors”. Rather, it ends on a single, poignant note: This Father’s Day, go ask Dad; and this simple message makes a really big impact. 

SunFed Ranch – To Dads with Love 

Sometimes the simplest way to reach a destination is a straight line. That’s why we simply had to include this ad in our list. It makes the most obvious statement as it begins, “statistically, not every dad can be number one,” and then continues expressing that if your father is your number one, they deserve a burger made from Sun Fed Ranch 100% beef.

We admit this ad won’t feature on our list of the most super-creative campaigns. But for this list of impactful ones, it certainly does the job. And you have to give the brand some credit for trying to sell meat as a gift for great fathers. While many are tempted to celebrate their parent with a mug, a t-shirt or supermarket aftershave, this brand does a really impressive job of giving kids an alternative gift their dad may appreciate this Father’s Day. 

Aviation Gin – Ryan Reynolds’ Vasectomy

Ryan Reynolds walks into a bar… no, it’s not the beginning of a joke. Actually, maybe it is. This risque ad, created for Aviation Gin, is filled with innuendo and quips as the Deadpool star creates his signature cocktail, The Vasectomy, from the alcohol brand he bought a serious stake in. 

In Reynolds’ words, this “mother of all cocktails” is an ultimate tribute to amazing dads. 

The ad is not the first out-there, humoristic feature the brand has created. Some of its others include Jane Seymour as “Dr Gin, Medicine Woman” and Reynolds’ own mom for a Mother’s Day campaign titled: Mothers Ruin Punch. This type of humor is massively impactful and plays a big part in how the company became so highly valued in its few years of business. 

In 2020, the brand sold as part of a $610 million acquisition by the European Brand, Diageo. If your marketing can do that for your business, we’d say it was a roaring success. 

Impactful, Wholesome, Creative, Funny… They All Have a Role to Play

What we love the most about Father’s Day ads is that they’re as diverse as our dads. Over the years, brands have created a myriad of commercials that showcase fathers as smart, silly, caring, trustworthy, and most importantly, a vital part of our lives. The commercials in this list are just a small look at how brands play into this, and as we near Father’s Day 2023, we’re really looking forward to seeing more emotional, unique, and unexpected ads from all over the world.

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