Admit it, you celebrated National French Fry Day this month… and National Ice Cream Day… and maybe even National Fried Chicken Day. I did, too, and there’s no shame in my game. In fact, today is National Lasagna Day, so I know what I’m cooking for dinner. National observance days like these are fun, but if you look deeper, you’ll see that we are playing into a clever marketing strategy.
Observance days have been around for some time. Who else remembers math teachers’ favorite holiday, Pi Day, a day for celebrating the number 3.14 and eating pie? But since the National Day Calendar was launched in 2013, observance days have become much more popular. They are often trending on social media and the Wall Street Journal recently reported that an astounding 20,000 media outlets subscribe to the National Day Calendar.
Why the Hype?
From a consumer standpoint, national observance days give us a reason to do something we want to do, but weren’t necessarily planning to do. For example, I try not to eat pizza every day (it’s not easy), but on National Pizza Day I have an excuse to head to the nearest pizzeria for a slice and a sweet Instagram picture… which brings me to my next point. Like it or not, we are living in an Instagram world. People love to post photos.
Also, the word “National” in front of pretty much anything makes it sound more important. Any day can be a lazy day, but on National Lazy Day we can justify binge-watching Netflix.
But I think the main reason there is so much hype around national observance days is because brands have learned how to market them. Some brands have created national days and others piggyback existing national days, and both methods work to rally consumers around a product or cause.
How to Create a National Day
First of all, your national day can’t be named after a person or business. I wish there were a National Hannah Day, but that’s not how it works. A more inclusive name, like National Women in Marketing Day, is more engaging anyway. Pick a name that will make people excited to post about it on social media.
Then you must submit a request to register your national day. Keep in mind, National Day Calendar receives 18,000 applications each year and only about 30 are chosen. Be sure to make a compelling case for why your national day should be chosen, and if it is, you’ll pay as much as $4,500 to be included on the calendar.
Another option is to create your own unofficial national day that you do not register with the National Day Calendar. Anyone can do this, of course, but you’ll need to put in more work to market the national day and ensure people use the hashtag.
How to Market an Existing National Day
If you don’t have the budget to fork over $4,500 or don’t want to create your own national day, that’s okay. You can still market an existing national day and use the hashtag to gain exposure for your brand. Host an event, offer a discount, or launch a social media contest. This year on National Fried Chicken Day, Popeye’s Fried Chicken hosted an interactive Facebook Live event with games, trivia and jazz. The Al Copeland Foundation (named after the creator of Popeye’s) hosted a special event to raise money for cancer research.
There are so many marketing possibilities for national observance days. The key is to be creative and have fun with it.