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What Crappy Father’s Day Gifts Can Teach Us About Effective Advertising

By Jenna Bruce on Mon, Jun 17, 2019 @ 09:43 AM |


Father’s Day, if we’re all honest, this is probably the one holiday with the crappiest gifts. Why is it when it comes to our fathers or husbands, most of us have phoned it in over the years? Don’t deny it, you know at one point in your life you have gotten your father or husband one of the following not-so-great gifts.

Father and kid making a plane model

The only good thing about these really bad gifts is they can teach us a heck of a lot about effective advertising.

Novelty Clothing

Ask any father in the United States for a tour of his closet and chances are you’ll see, hidden waaaaaay in the back, a dozen pairs of embarrassing boxer shorts (“In case of emergency, pull down” is a classic), ugly-as-all-get-out-ties (no man should ever wear a tie that looks like a fish) and a ubiquitous pair of “funny” golfer socks.

Be careful of your brand persona. While it’s okay to have fun and a sense of humor, just be sure the tone of your ads always matches your brand’s overall voice.

World’s Best Dad Paraphernalia

When a man first becomes a father, sure, it’s cute to get him a “World’s Best Dad” coffee mug or that somewhat-tacky “World’s Best Dad T-shirt” with the stick figures on it. But after a few years, the WBD socks, beer cozies and bumper stickers seem a little… phoned in. We get it, he’s a great dad, so get him a gift he’ll actually love.

Brands sometimes have the right message, but their delivery of that message is all wrong. Pick the absolute best channels for your ads that you know your prospects use.

 The Ubiquitous BBQ Apron

When we think of dads, most of us picture a guy standing at a BBQ grilling burgers and hotdogs. And yes, many men do in fact love to grill. But that doesn’t mean every year you have to buy them a corny BBQ apron like “Kiss the chef”, “King of the grill” or “the Grillfather.” It’s a wonder more dads don’t start under- or overcooking everyone’s steaks and burgers, just to make a point.

Get to know your audience better. What ELSE can you find out about them besides the standard demographic data? What are their goals? What are they struggling with? What keeps them up at night? What do they hope for? How can your offer solve their problem?

Lame Putting Greens

OK, sure, perhaps many of us at one time or another gave our dad a little putting green. I did for like two years in a row and my dad didn’t even golf. In my defense, I was 10 and 11. I do wonder why my mother never bothered to let me know my father never golfed a day in his life.

At any rate, many of the putting green gifts are pretty lame. A guy can just put a ball down his hallway into a cup, he doesn’t need a 5-inch by 7-inch piece of green felt on his floor to practice putting.

And he certainly doesn’t need the potty putter. Have you seen this thing?


There’s no room for anything fake in your marketing materials. In this day and age, consumers are longing to engage with brands who show their humanity. Be real. Be human. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not to get the sale.

Silly Car Accessories

I know plenty of guys who happen to be fathers that do in fact love cars. But that doesn’t mean they long for odd-smelling air fresheners, engine oil, fuzzy dice or seat covers with The Rock on them as gifts.

Are your ads or copy tired? Corny? Have you used the same company image for 15 years? Is your font dated? It may be time to give your ads an overhaul.

Stupid Kitchen Gadgets

You know how you can tell your family hasn’t given one real thought to what to get you for Father’s Day? You get a set of “shredder claws” or pizza scissors. If you’re really lucky, you maybe get the “Flavor Injector” by Ronco. Know why these gadgets are so bad? Because they are completely unnecessary – as in pointless.

If your messaging isn’t relative to your target audience… if they can’t use the information you are sharing… then you are wasting your ad spend. Know your ideal customer persona and develop campaigns that are centered around them.

If you apply these advertising principles, then Father’s Day will have been redeemed and all of the poor dads out there who have received one or more of these crappy gifts will not have suffered in vain.

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