Mark’s thanks dads who step up

The retailer is increasing its investment in more emotionally engaging ads, beginning with a new Father's Day campaign.

Father’s Day is always an important time for Mark’s and its primary customers, but this year the retailer is using the occasion to begin its journey into more emotionally relevant ads on digital and social.

Setting up mock living room sets in busy public areas in Toronto, Edmonton and Laval, Mark’s sat Canadians of all ages down and asked them to explain why their dad is more special than all the rest. The responses were then compiled into a video the brand is pushing through social and digital channels beginning today and leading up to Father’s Day on June 19.

A French version will be launching in the near future. The campaign is being led by North Strategic and its video production arm Notch Video, with Touche! handling media.

David Lui, VP of marketing at Mark’s, says the message behind the video is to honour dads who have set a positive example for their children by “stepping up” as fathers, a spin on the “Step into Life” tagline it launched in the spring. As the top retailer for men’s casual wear, he describes Father’s Day as “a fundamental brand moment” for Mark’s. What’s different this year is the brand is activating around the holiday with less tactical in-store messaging and experiences and more emotionally relevant messaging on digital platforms, a priority for Mark’s going forward.

“We want to emotionally engage more with our consumers and Canadians at large, and we thought Father’s Day was the perfect time to do something like that for the first time,” Lui says.

With that new, emtional approach, Lui says Mark’s is also increasing its investment in its advertising, particularly when it comes to social and digital channels. Mark’s conducts quarterly research and has found its 30- to 49-year-old target – dubbed “Mr. and Mrs. Triple-C” for “confident, casual and Canadian” – are now using digital and social channels as their primary means of communication, making it the right time for the shift.

“There’s an ongoing growth in our mix and how we use video in it,” Lui says. “The fall is our other big period, and you’ll see TV there, because that’s our main channel for launching a new season. There’s a huge opportunity through social channels for us to communicate our brand position through engaging content, but that content doesn’t always have to be functional or tactical.”

Though its main target is men, Lui adds that being relevant to women in its advertising is also important, as the retailer’s research has shown they have a great deal of influence on the purchase decisions of men when it comes to fashion.

Besides working to maintain its presence in the market and status as the top source for men’s casual wear, Lui says another part of that increased presence is a continuation of a rebranding that saw Mark’s gradually drop the “Work Warehouse” part of its moniker beginning in late 2011. Lui says a slower, more measured rebranding – as opposed to a sudden, attention-grabbing one – has been purposeful, to move in a more modern direction without alienating the loyal customers who have shopped there over the past 40 years – a secondary customer segment dubbed “Triple R,” for retired, reluctant to shop and reluctant to replace.

“That’s been a core consumer that has grown as we’ve grown, and it’s important we don’t lose them, because we’re their go-to for apparel,” Lui says. “It’s a slow and steady approach, but it’s right for that customer.”