Happy belated Father’s Day to all dads. I hope your comedy socks survived their first wash. If not, there will be another pair next year.

Happy belated Father’s Day to all dads out there. I hope your comedy socks have survived their first wash. If they haven’t, don’t worry, I’m sure there will be another pair next year.

As well as being boom time for sock suppliers, mug makers and CD merchants, Father’s Day is one of the few times that brands try to reach out to dads as a group.

This year Unilever’s Dove produced an ad that attempted to change this.

Dove’s ‘First Fatherhood Moments’ is a montage of user-generated content filmed as men learn that they’re going to be fathers. A collection of men react to pregnancy sticks, small items of baby wear and ‘Dad-to-be’ cards with a mixture of shock, surprise and excitement.

This lovely piece of film has everything, and it doesn’t even include a Dove product. It finishes with the message ‘Real strength means showing you care even from the very first moment’. What a tear-jerker.

Emotional engagement

But there’s more to it than simply making all of us emotionally repressed guys blub like the imminent offspring of the men in the ad. It is giving Dove an emotional reason to engage with the hard to reach market for male grooming products.

A social element to the campaign encourages dads to offer up advice to other fathers which are added to a Twitter wall on the Dove website.

It is unusual to see this audience of fathers targeted by brands like Dove, which are usually more maternal facing.

P&G pulled the same trick with its Olympics ‘Thank you mum’ campaign, but it’s a refreshing new angle to see dads as real and rounded individuals.

Too often the usual stereotypical creative approach portrays fathers as clumsy and hapless bystanders in parenthood.

Real people

It also links with recent research from content marketing agency Headstream, which showed that consumers like brand stories that make use of real people’s experiences, as opposed to those of celebrities or fictional characters.

The use of user-generated content is an area that all brands, including retailers, can learn from. Placing the consumer at the centre of the action can really strike an emotional chord, allowing brands to engage more freely with a somewhat hidden market.

As men take their first steps into parenthood, they’re at a particularly receptive moment in their lives and open to changing the choices that they make, including brands. Just ditch the clichés and treat them like individuals.

  • Matt Pye, chief operating officer at Cheil UK