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5 Brands that really ‘get’ how to advertise to families

Advertising to a single audience is a tricky business at the best of times. Advertising to multiple generations is even harder.

Sometimes, just appealing to the kids in a family is enough to get the parents’ attention. But often, that’s just not enough—you have to appeal to the entire family, including across multiple generations.

It can be hard to stand out from the noise, too, and develop trust. But there’s lots of evidence of brands doing it right. Here are our Top 5!

1. McCain’s: Making it “real”

McCain’s Foods, a global food and French fries/potato specialties manufacturer, gets how food doesn’t just feed people. They believe it brings people together and shapes families.

So much so that they’ve invested about $4 million USD into their “We Are Family” ads, which included real families of diverse races, backgrounds, abilities, genders, etc. interacting with one another during mealtimes.

McCain’s was smart enough to follow recent research that suggests that there’s too much gender/family stereotyping in advertising, and created a campaign that applauds and supports diversity and inclusion.

Essentially, their message is clear: “It’s mealtimes that make a family”.

The reason it works is that the campaign is consistent with McCain’s longstanding mission and brand values. Their family focus isn’t new, but redefining what a family means is (and ensuring more people relate to their brand).

What did they gain? Awards, but of also a big improvement in a number of brand metrics (brand meaning and perception, as well as differentiation).

Check out their Here’s to love and We Are Family 2018 and 2019 ads.

HP: Real to reel

McCain’s aren’t the only ones paying attention to “real” families. HP did something very similar with real families in Chicago for their 2018 “All American” campaign to break down the suggestion the All American family is a white mother and father and kids.

The result? Tons of media attention (and HP’s focus on diversity and inclusion) and an impressive 48% purchase intent for their printers.

2. Lego: Supporting families by involving the kids

COVID-19 has been tough on everyone, including advertisers. Family-friendly LEGO broke through the noise and stepped up during lockdown with their #letsbuildtogether campaign.

They not only created videos with incredible and fun builds but also packaged them into beautiful videos (with STEM experts) that encouraged others—they developed a slick landing page and split-audience website (children and parents). Parents can go shop on one side, and kids can get ideas to play on the other.

The website offers kids colouring pages, builds, LEGO sets, and activities for families to learn and play together during the pandemic.

Oh, and that’s not all: they also showed their commitment to families through the campaign by donating $50 million to support underprivileged kids by supporting access to learning through play.

The result? More than 4 billion views on YouTube, social media shares and lots of creative minds fired up! (That means serious loyalty!)

Check out the video and website.


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3. Delta Airlines: Going for cute

Delta Airlines, one of the world’s largest airline brands (if not the largest), hits the high notes with its super-cute ads, often using children to pull at the heartstrings.

Their Shared Humanity ads show the world through the eyes of babies, toddlers, and slightly older children—an absolute hit with families.

But there’s more than just cuteness to these ads. They use great tactics of emotional marketing by reminding us of how much we have in common, rather than what divides us.

And isn’t that something all parents have in common?

Recently, they managed to break through the noise (and recent social media grumbling) with an Election Day ad.

The ad aims to find “the uncommon common ground” and fit in perfectly with their “bringing the world closer together” campaigns—while at the same time, letting families dream of a more unified tomorrow.

Their ads frequently win awards and get the attention of the media.

Check out the family-friendly Close the Gap campaign and earlier Happy Father’s Day ads.

4. Tesla: Use the buzz

You wouldn’t usually put Tesla and advertising together in the same sentence—it’s a brand that’s never needed to… but that doesn’t mean they don’t appeal to families.

Tesla broke the mold as the only automobile manufacturer that’s never used traditional advertising. (There’s more demand than supply of their cars, and with Elon Musk at the helm, it’s little wonder they’re doing things their own way.)

Tesla relies on its brand reputation and fanatically loyal customer base as word-of-mouth advertising. And when it comes to families, Tesla’s still reaching out in unconventional ways.

Tesla is ultra-cool, but don’t think they don’t have appeal with children. In fact, they have a range of children’s products that—unless you have a Tesla—you may not have noticed.

When they launched their Model S for kids, they knew that this product would strike home at the heart of both children and their Tesla-owning parents.

Parents got super involved by tweeting home videos and pictures of their kids and the entire family enjoying the Model S for kids.

And if you’re not convinced that Tesla is creating a snug little space as a family brand, check out how customers call the Tesla Model S the “ultimate” family car. And just imagine how cool the falcon doors of the Tesla Model Y  look to kids.

Is their strategy working? You bet.

Check out some of the home videos and tweets for the kids’ version of Model S.

5. Disney World: Multigenerational advertising on every level

It was a clever move for Disney World to its Grand Adventure campaign, targeting children AND their grandparents (and by extension, parents!). They’d done their research on the grandparent travel market!

The Grand Adventure campaign reaches out to children of all ages (!) and encourages families—specifically, grandparents—to enjoy a vacation to the multi-generational theme park together.

And Disney World is ready: there are now several attractions that will allow grandparents to share some of the joys and icons of their childhood, for example, with the retro-Dumbo ride and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

That’s one multigenerational campaign that’s yielded dividends. Not only does Disney World reap the benefits, but they make it easier for travel agencies to actually sell their products to a new audience segment. Smart!

They also invited comments from grandparents to share their adventures of Disney World with their grandkids.

Check out the cute “Grand Adventure” campaign.

There’s more where that came from…

We hope you’ve enjoyed some of the innovative and creative ways these brands are advertising to families—and more importantly, how they’re getting it right. Even without traditionally family-focused products, these brands are able to understand the zeitgeist, leverage their reputation, use emotional marketing, and get really creative in reaching out to families and new segments.

And now it’s over to you: how could you revamp your advertising to market your brand to children and parents?

Looking for more great ideas? Check out our blog article on Marketing to Busy Women and Advertising to Millennial Parents. And to find out how to reach families in the REC Media network, please explore our arena advertising opportunities or contact us today. And if you’ve enjoyed this email, why not sign up to our email list to receive the next one in your inbox?


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