- Many of our favourite holidays were invented by brands to pad sales.
- There is no official body that approves holidays in the United States (Congress can only set federal holidays), which is why there are so many of them.
- “Fake”holidays succeed when they offer either fun or strengthen an emotional connection to food or a cause.
It seems like every day is a holiday now, an ode to some food, cause, or even a facetious accent. Thanks to social media, brands and consumers alike can think up new holidays wholesale and promote them to a wide audience.
For example, while Halloween wasn’t created by a company, the candy industry at the start of the 20th century tried to turn the second Saturday in October into Candy Day, The Atlantic reported. That is until Halloween proved a more suitable candy-centered holiday. Call it a half-win.
In that spirit, let’s take a look at some other popular holidays invented by brands.
1. National Pancake Day
Outside of the US – especially in the U.K. and Ireland – there’s an official Pancake Day, which takes place every year on Shrove (or “Fat”) Tuesday, the day before the start of the Lenten season. It’s a day people in the United States may know better by its other name: Mardi Gras.
The International House of Pancakes (IHOP) seized the branding opportunity and brought IHOP National Pancake Day to the United States in 2006, giving away free short stacks of pancakes and raising money for charity in the process.
IHOP usually aligns National Pancake Day with Fat Tuesday, but they have been known to move it around by a week or so. It’s their holiday, after all.
2. National Rotisserie Chicken Day
For lovers of chicken-on-a-spit, June 2 – National Rotisserie Chicken Day – is the time to shine. It will also probably come as no surprise that the king of rotisserie chicken sales, Boston Market, is the company behind it, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The chicken chain submitted their proposal in April 2015 to National Day Calendar, one of the main unofficial bodies that reviews new “holiday” requests from brands and companies, and received approval in May of the same year.
3. National/International Coffee Day
Lots of countries have had National Coffee days, but one of the first documented “International Coffee” holidays was developed by the All Japan Coffee Association back in 1983 and set for October 1st,according to the company.
It wasn’t until 2015, however, that International Coffee Day went truly international, with 35 countries in the International Coffee Association signing on.
Much of the U.S., however, celebrates National Coffee Day on September 29, according to the National Day Calendar.
4. Small Business Saturday
Small Business Saturday was developed by American Express in 2010 as a locally focused corollary to the big brands’ Black Friday. Like Thanksgiving, the date changes every year, but is always the first Saturday after Turkey Day.
Unusual among the holidays on this list, Small Business Saturday is actually a registered trademark of its founder company, American Express.
5. Cyber Monday
Black Friday doesn’t get a mention in this article because it arose more-or-less organically from consumers’ post-Thanksgiving shopping blitz, according to this history of the holiday from Time.
The same cannot be said for Cyber Monday, the “digital Black Friday” and brainchild of the National Retail Federation, the New York Times reported. This e-shopping extravaganza was founded in 2005 and takes place the first Monday after Thanksgiving.
6. Record Store Day
Sometimes a fake holiday can help revive an entire industry.
Vinyl sales were at just 990,000 copies per year when a group of record store owners got together in 2007 and conceived of Record Store Day (RSD), Billboard reported. Taking place on a Saturday in April, Record Store Day celebrates all things wax with live performances in local record stores and rare, one-day-only vinyl releases.
It was a huge success, and was likely part of the reason why record sales are on the rise. Vinyl sales topped 14 million in 2017 – the twelfth year in a row that record sales have grown.
7. National 7-Eleven Day
Sometimes an opportunity for corporate-holiday synergy is just staring your brand in the face. So it was with July 11, or 7-Eleven Day, as the popular chain of convenience stores would have it.
First advertised in 1989, according to the historians at National Day Calendar, the only real question is what took the chain – founded in 1927 as “Tote’m Stores” and renamed 7-Eleven in 1946 – so long?
National 7-Eleven Day is a great time to get a free Slurpee from participating stores. The company reportedly gives out around 9 million of them each year, according to USA Today.
8. National Drive-Thru Day
A holiday for drive-thrus makes sense given Americans’ love for fast food. In fact, 37% of American adults consumed fast food on any given day between 2013 and 2016, according to a new report from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
9. National Underwear Day
The online underwear retailer Freshpair founded “National Underwear Day” on August 5, 2003, according to the company’s website.
The holiday is observed annually on August 5, according to the National Day Calendar. The site encourages people to honour the holiday with the following advice: “Embrace your body image. Use #NationalUnderwearDay to post on social media and encourage others to join in.”
10. Hashtag Holidays too numerous to count
In some respects, we’re living in the heyday of the fake holiday. Thanks to social media, any company or person with a good enough idea and a following can get a new, made-up holiday trending.
What makes a hashtag holiday work online is the same thing that makes it work offline: connection.
“Trending hashtags provide brands and consumers the opportunity to talk about something meaningful to them, even it is something as trivial as their favourite doughnut,” Deron Dalton, deputy editor at The Tylt, an online debate site that pits one hashtag against another, told Business Insider.
“Perhaps #NationalCoffeeDay was created as a brand marketing ploy, but it started trending because everyone loves a good cup of coffee,” he said.
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