Ad of the Week: Gillette's Father's Day film is touching and relevant

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Grey New York avoids the holiday shmaltz with a perfectly on-brand message

As the father of a 16-month-old adventurous and inquisitive son, I found myself moved by Gillette’s "This Father’s Day, Go Ask Dad." It made me wonder what the world will be like when my son is a teenager. I know moments like teaching my son to shave and tie a tie are ahead of me, making this ad poignant and relevant. We see many brands make the annual foray into sentimentality and celebrations of fatherhood, but the ones that are able to connect their brand to their message see the most success. More on that later.

The emotional 2:36 online spot, created by Grey New York, features fathers of various nationalities talking about how their teenage sons rarely come to them for advice. It seems as if technology is creating a chasm between them and their children, and they don’t know how to cross it. According to the brand’s research, "94% of teenagers ask the internet for advice before their Dads." We then see the young men attempt to learn skills such as tying a tie, asking a girl out and even shaving by asking the internet. A valuable and touching lesson then unfolds before our eyes.

Gillette’s ad achieved an extraordinary, and extremely rare, 709 Ace Score. As I mentioned in an earlier post, among the 50,000+ ads we’ve measured in our database, less than 1% have received an Ace Score over 700. The Ad Personality visualization below indicates that the ad’s biggest strengths are being liked and relevant. Another indicator of the ad’s success with viewers is its very low Polarity Score of 24 (on a scale of 1-100), putting it in the top 1% for viewer agreement about what a great ad it is.

In terms of the creative aspects that helped the ad break through, the Message was overwhelmingly selected as the Single Best Thing by 65% of viewers. The fact that this element was chosen so frequently over Characters, Visual Scenes, Music and Brand, among others, validates the strength of Gillette’s message. One female viewer commented, "This is an amazing ad. I’ve already sent it to someone to watch. The message is beautiful and completely relevant to what is going on today. We need more ads like this." 

It would be hard to argue the emotional impact of this ad, but let’s take a look at the feelings viewers expressed after watching it. The emotional word cloud below is made up of words directly from viewer remarks. While we see words expressing admiration (green) for the brand such as "great," "love" and "best" dominate in size, there is an extremely high use of heartfelt (pink) emotional terms like "touching," "heartwarming" and "cry." One father in the 36-49-year-old group commented, "Those are not tears in my eyes. The ad was personal and inspirational. I would love to see a lot more ads like this. This made my day."

I mentioned earlier the importance of context when brands create these emotionally charged videos. Viewers want there to be a connection between the story and the brand or product, or it doesn’t feel quite as authentic. Dove Men+Care is another brand that regularly creates impactful Father’s Day ads. This year’s version of their annual Father’s Day spot was released too late for this writing, but we compared response to last year’s version, Dove Men+Care shares your first fatherhood moments this Father’s Day to Gillette’s ad. The Dove ads are great on many levels. Last year’s ad received an impressive 675 Ace Score, with strong Likeability, Attention, and Change scores, and a low Polarity Score of 29. If there was one area in which the Dove ad fell a bit short, it was the lack of connection between the story and the product. Here are a few viewer comments we tracked to illustrate that: 

  • "I love emotional things like this, but it seems that the message sort of dies when the product is barely related." — Male, 16-20

  • "It was a touching commercial. I would share the commercial but I feel the message doesn't really connect with the product." — Female 21-35

  • "I liked the ad. It was sentimental, and made me smile. But the content had nothing to do with the product." — Male, 21-35

By including a monumental moment related to its brand — teaching your son to shave — Gillette creates something pure and authentic that viewers can connect to. Thank you Gillette and Grey New York, and Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there. I’m excited to enjoy my second one.

Jason Zazzi is vice president of marketing with Ace Metrix.


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