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Volume 22 No. 36
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Father’s Day can be a win-win for families and marketers


As a sports marketer and father of two, Father’s Day has a deeper meaning for me now than ever before. Father’s Day should mean more for teams and leagues, too — an untapped opportunity to take new creative risks, tell new stories, and truly own a moment in time.

If you’re a team that begins your Father’s Day promotional planning in May or June, you’re already too late. In the week after Father’s Day 2018, the goal of this column is to encourage teams to plan ahead to build a successful 2019 Father’s Day strategy.

When executed properly, a strategic Father’s Day promotion delivers the power to attract new audiences to games, create truly unique and lasting memories for fans, develop new “high-demand” inventory for corporate partners, and generate earned media in nontraditional channels. It marks a special day when team marketers everywhere can take a leading role helping fans celebrate their dads as role models.

The sports marketing dad in me is inspired to think of new revenue and growth potential too. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spend an average of $134.75 on Father’s Day gifts and experiences with an estimated 77 percent of people celebrating the holiday annually. Overall spending on Father’s Day eclipsed $15.5 billion in 2017, a 15-year record high up from $9.4 billion in 2009. 

Like being a good dad, the key for sports marketers is in the planning. In honor of my son Garrett’s fifth birthday, here are five focus areas to help teams in planning a truly innovative promotion.

1. Think Big, Focus Small.

The Insight: The amount of time U.S. fathers spend with their children has tripled since 1965.

This is good news for teams. Father’s Day in 2019 should represent a time to reimagine how a team can make a memory for dads and their families.

Teams should aim to:

Be fun, creative and different
Create fun surprise and delight moments 
Evolve the Father’s Day giveaway
Remember that tools make up more than 15 percent of all gifts purchases for Father’s Day 

2. Deliver “The Experience Within the Experience”

The Insight: 1 in 4 dads would love to receive “a gift of experience” for Father’s Day; 48 percent of people plan to give a “fun activity or experience” for their loved one. 

A key aspect in creating a memorable Father’s Day event is offering a series of “once-in-a-lifetime” experiences for different types of dads to enjoy with their families, realizing not all dads are created equal. Teams can create enhanced social bonding experiences ranging from playing catch on the field with loved ones (appealing to classic dads) to participating in a Family 5K Run (health and fitness dads) to competing in Dad Bod competitions (daredevil dads). 

The more that teams can “think like a dad” and create simple, yet impactful ways for fathers to share their favorite interests and experiences with family members, the more successful they will be.

Innovative promotions will allow dads and families to focus on the experience.
Photo: getty images

3. Feature “Instagram-Worthy Moments”

The Insight: 89 percent of fans going to games with their family will take a photo.

Families love to capture, commemorate, and socially share their special moments together on Father’s Day, creating environmental envy among their friends online.

To capitalize on this, teams can create and market a series of special Father’s Day photo experiences for families to enjoy, positioned as on-field photo opportunities, special Father’s Day family portraits, photos with mascots and legends, and/or special family photo stations with a designated Father’s Day hashtag around the venue. 

4. Win with Emotion

The Insight: Over 87 million cards are sent on Father’s Day, making it the fourth most popular day for sending cards (following Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day). 

A key to winning hearts and minds around Father’s Day is facilitating meaningful, emotional connections with families, players and fans. Emotion can be a powerful common thread across fan outreach (“Let Us Help Your Dad Experience the Baseball Game of His Dreams”), activation (“Thank You Dad” card creation stations), and storytelling (Hosting an annual “Dads Trip” with players and their fathers and showcasing it online).

Father’s Day marks the perfect occasion to make fathers feel like kids again, ignite childhood memories, and help:

Facilitate meaningful, emotional connections with fans 
Create a Father’s Day experience that will create memories and traditions to last a lifetime 
Educate fans about players and fans’ fathers 
Celebrate fathers 

5. Promote the Promotion

The Insight: 1 in 3 consumers will research Father’s Day gift ideas online. 

Gone are the days are buying dad socks or a tie. Teams would be wise to market gift ideas with:

Earned media and influencers
A simple, yet impactful digital presence 
A schedule of team-related Father’s Day festivities 
Father’s Day gift guides

It is officially 51 weeks until Father’s Day 2019 and the time is now to get ahead of the planning. Your fans will thank you for helping them with their Father’s Day gifts and your team’s CFO will thank you for the increase in revenue.

Brian Gainor is the proud father of Clara (6) and Garrett (5) and the vice president of innovation for 4FRONT where he helps teams and leagues solve key business problems, add fans and generate revenue through creativity and innovation. He can be reached at