Marshalls brings Father’s Day gifting to Manhattan’s streets

Discussion
Marshalls Surprise Father's Day Billboard Event in NYC on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - Photo: Amy Sussman/AP Images for Marshalls
Jun 15, 2018
Tom Ryan

On Wednesday, June 13, Marshalls installed a “larger-than-life billboard” in the Flatiron District in Manhattan to help “Dad’s Day procrastinators nationwide.”

From 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., passersby were invited to “share a dad joke” to win one of a wide range of gifts planted on the nearly 60-foot climbing gym peg board. Jokes triggered lights to flicker around the board. Wherever the lights stopped, the contestant chose their gift from the section. The gifts ranged from kayaks to chairs, headphones, water bottles, socks, shirts and coolers.  A certified climber then retrieved the gift. The musician, Kevin Jonas, was in attendance.

The campaign was designed to showcase the wide variety of gift items available and the “fun” delivered through Marshalls’ treasure hunt shopping experience.

“We believe shopping should be fun; it should thrill you and immediately deliver something exciting,” said Victoria Shonkoff, Marshalls’ VP, marketing director, in a statement. “Our Father’s Day billboard embodies everything we offer our Marshalls shoppers daily — an ever-changing selection of products, a fun shopping experience, and amazing prices.”

Workwear brand Carhartt provided a  different take on Father’s Day this year. The company identified four father-run businesses from around the country and surprised their owners with hand-painted signs for Father’s Day “to thank them for a job well done.”

Marshalls brings Father’s Day gifting to Manhattan’s streets
Marshalls Surprise Father’s Day Billboard Event in NYC on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 – Photo: Amy Sussman/AP Images for Marshalls

A few fast-food establishments offer freebies (e.g., “Free Dessert at Wienerschnitzel on Father’s Day”) but most campaigns around Father’s Day are focusing on “Gifts For Dad” promotions and suggestions.

Among department stores, Macy’s stands out with an offer of Father’s Day gift options on its newly-launched @macysmen Instagram account that features suggestions from a number of “cultural tastemakers.”

The National Retail Federation’s (NRF) annual survey predicted Father’s Day would reach a near-record of $15.3 billion this year, up from a lull of $9.4 billion in 2009 amid the recession years. But that’s well off of NRF’s predictions for other shopping holidays this year, including Easter, $18.2 billion; Valentine’s Day, $19.6 billion; and Mother’s Day, $23.1 billion.

For retailers, holiday sales are further challenged by the notion that fathers are hard to find presents for and likely because buying a tie is often no longer an option. NRF’s findings also show that a “special outing” gift, such as a concert, sporting event or dinner, continues to grow in popularity.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How would you rate the effectiveness of Marshalls’ Father’s Day event? Should retailers try to do more to capitalize on the holiday? What messages, themes or marketing approaches work best for Father’s Day?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"This is definitely an innovative approach. I think it gets attention and achieves its purpose of making shopping fun."
"You might have expected an event like this from Macy’s or Target, but Marshalls? Cool."
"The contest that results in a surprise gift aligns well with the element of surprise consumers experience in the treasure hunt in Marshalls stores."

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12 Comments on "Marshalls brings Father’s Day gifting to Manhattan’s streets"


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Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
Guest

Great promotion, Marshalls! Lively, engaging, interactive and informational while providing a very high public relations and earned media profile. All of what experiential marketing should be. Consumers love special days and calendar events so retailers and brands who do not align with these are missing the ability to better connect with the lives of their customers. Activities, contests and recognitions are natural marketing programs for such days.

Max Goldberg
Guest

Nice gimmick. Marshalls was able to garner publicity while highlighting the fun, treasure hunt nature of its stores. Retailers can capitalize on Father’s Day through interesting items and experiences, rather than relying on traditionally boring items like ties and other fashion accessories. As a dad, this can’t come too soon.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

This is a very novel initiative which will have had great exposure due to its location. However, from our research one of the issues for retailers is that consumers increasingly want to gift experiences rather than products. A meal or day out with dad is seen as far more compelling than the gift of a product. As such, retail is being squeezed and retailers need to be increasingly innovative with their suggestions and marketing.

Charles Dimov
BrainTrust

Personally, I love creativity and innovation. This is definitely an innovative approach. I think it gets attention and achieves its purpose of making shopping fun. I loved the quote by Victoria Shonkoff, “We believe shopping should be fun; it should thrill you and immediately deliver something exciting.” For retail to survive, shopping has to be associated with immediacy, a practical element (got what I needed) and a dash of adventure/discovery. They hit the mark with this campaign. At the end of the day, it will be interesting to note whether they drove enough additional business to justify it again next year. Yes, in retail it is important to capitalize on every holiday.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

This is a fun promotion. Certainly garnering attention on a Manhattan street. But how effective is it? Maybe it will generate more gifts for dad that dad doesn’t need or want?

But the thing that really struck me was the sign in the image: “Marshalls — Brands that WOW.” Are you kidding? This is Marshalls.

David Katz
BrainTrust

Creative, attention-grabbing promotion by Marshalls. Renowned for their “treasure hunt” scarcity model, this campaign reinforces the breath of products available — “Kayaks?” — terrific. It also plays well to the athleisure trend and getting dad to be more active. Good job all around …

Georganne Bender
BrainTrust

You might have expected an event like this from Macy’s or Target, but Marshalls? Cool. I bet a lot of people were late to wherever they were going that day.

It’s certainly a standout from my email box that’s stuffed with Father’s Day gift ads featuring dads in the same outfits and poses we’ve seen in ads for — well — forever.

Good for Marshalls for shining a new promotional light on a holiday that’s usually a “here’s a new __________ (again), Dad” day.

Sky Rota
BrainTrust
6 months 3 days ago

I love the 3-D billboard showing you real ideas for gifts to buy. Now bring that down to the street level where I can actually buy the stuff while I’m walking by! Retailers should use venues they may not have thought of. For example, my dad receives every business and stock newsletter. Three weeks ago my father sent my mom a link to his newsletter where the stock guy was now talking about some special shaving kit. My dad who never asks for anything all of the sudden wanted this shaver.

That shave company picked the perfect influencer to market their product. He is a credible source giving stock tips, so why not believe him when he says “buy this shaver!”? We bought two; one for my dad and one for my uncle. Find the right people to market your products and they will sell!

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

Marshalls’s Father’s Day event is a creative way to engage customers in a fun and entertaining way. The contest that results in a surprise gift aligns well with the element of surprise consumers experience in the treasure hunt in Marshalls stores. The high profile event in Manhattan also benefits from media coverage to increase brand awareness for Marshalls.

Focusing on ideas that simplify gift shopping during holiday seasons is appealing to the many shopping procrastinators who may be scrambling to find a gift at the last minute. Making the shopping process and experience efficient and fun is also a great way to attract and retain customers. Remember that in-store shopping is theater and Marshalls has tapped into it.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

I thought at first that the passerby was expected to climb the wall, and while this would have been truly innovative … well, maybe TOO innovative. Back to what was actually done, Marhsalls gets props for creativity, but as with all of these NYCentric ideas, I don’t see how it can be transferred to the rest of the country. Not that something isn’t needed. With few men wearing ties anymore, I think many people are at a loss as to what to get dad.

James Tenser
BrainTrust

Point taken, Craig. I had a similar skepticism about how wide an audience this promotion could actually influence. Some viral activity will be needed to make this a big win. This is a fun concept, and (very important) it’s highly visual, so it has potential to go wide in social media this weekend. Hey, we’re talking about it here, right?

Cate Trotter
BrainTrust

This is a really fun way of appealing to customers and making them think of the Marshalls name (and capitalising on the fact that a lot of people do leave gift buying to the last minute). I’m sure it was effective in making people smile and stop awhile. I think it tied in really well with the brand’s USP (treasure-hunt style broad range) and that’s the most important thing for all brands to consider in their marketing.

I’d say what doesn’t work is when retailers try to use things like Father’s Day to push the same items they sell everyday, but have a different bit of signage. There needs to be a bit of thought in what you’re suggesting to customers in the same way that they are putting a bit of thought into what they buy!

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"This is definitely an innovative approach. I think it gets attention and achieves its purpose of making shopping fun."
"You might have expected an event like this from Macy’s or Target, but Marshalls? Cool."
"The contest that results in a surprise gift aligns well with the element of surprise consumers experience in the treasure hunt in Marshalls stores."

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