How Brands Use 'Fake' Holidays to Get Noticed

Fake Advertiser Holiday Example

Consumers are inundated with holiday messaging, whether it’s Mother’s Day, back-to-school, or Black Friday. In an effort to rise above the noise, brands are redefining traditional holiday efforts by finding clever marketing tie-ins to obscure or inventive celebratory occasions.

Let’s take a look at a few brand-inspired strategies that will help take your holiday plan from ordinary to extraordinary.

Start an Anti-Holiday Holiday:

REI closed their 149 retail stores on Black Friday and instead encouraged their employees and America to #OptOutside. A brave move, executed to perfection, on the holiest of holy shopping days. What started as a “crazy” idea, evolved into a movement that continues to stir up attention from over 6 million people, pets, influencers, companies, national parks, and organizations. A quick search for #OptOutside on Instagram alone drums up nearly 3 million posts. Talk about earned media!

REI CEO, Jerry Stritzke, seems like a huggable, kayak-loving, philanthropic guy, but we all know, in our heart of gold hearts, that REI has an aggressive bottom line. There is no doubt that what was lost in Black Friday sales was gained in class registrations, merchandise sales, press, and social support from a passionate community of enthusiasts.

REI cracked the code…

Brands must not only master the art of storytelling but more importantly the art of storySHOWING. The result: inspired brand advocates that are loyal and eager to sing your praise from the mountaintops, or even better, on social media.

Opt Outside Rei Instagram Post

Treat a ‘Fake’ Holiday Like a ‘Real’ Holiday

If America runs on Dunkin’, Dunkin’ Donuts runs on a delectable social media strategy. National Donut Day was no exception. Instead of slapping up a lone photo of a pretty donut, Dunkin’ Donuts approached the day and the days preceding it like they would any cornerstone holiday. They not only gave away free donuts, but they also hired Instagram and Snapchat influencers across the globe to dish about how they celebrated #NationalDonutDay in their city. Their photos and videos told unique by-market stories that personalized the narrative and armed the brand with fresh content for their social channels. This paired with a live behind-the-scenes Facebook broadcast, Snapchat events, a custom Snapchat filter, and influencer takeovers, established Dunkin’ Donuts as the go-to for this tasty holiday. In fact, over 4 million Facebook fans around the world engaged in the donut celebration.

Sure, a day dedicated to donut indulgence isn’t the worst thing to ever happen. Sugar-feigned humans naturally jumped at the occasion. However, what catapulted Dunkin’ Donuts front and center in the consumer’s mind was their visual-content-first approach to their version of a ‘real’ holiday.

Dunkin Donuts Influencer Instagram Post

Create Your Own Holiday

In 2010, American Express created Small Business Saturday, an annual holiday encouraging people to shop locally on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. What started as a tactic to stimulate post-recession spending, evolved into an official holiday when the U.S Senate unanimously passed a resolution of support for the day. Fast-forward to 2016 and you bet your bottom dollar that the holiday is still going strong. According to the company’s 2016 insights survey, a whopping 6,700+ small businesses and organizations spearheaded local events and rallies in their neighborhoods. Consumers and businesses united across social media, producing over 135 million engagements. Estimated spending hit $15.4 billion, a banner day for the local ma and pa shops.

Well, that escalated. What can we credit for the success?

Government support, initial AMEX incentives, press, and advertising certainly helped. However, at its core, this campaign succeeded because it struck a cord with the influencers and stakeholders, big and small, and ignited a spark that spread like wildfire through communities. Whether it was Barack Obama voicing his support, a friend’s recommendation, a DIY crafter providing window dressing tips, or a local chef posting about the holiday, AMEX concocted the ultimate environment to build and nurture customer relationships for years to come.

Instagram Influencer Amex Post

Rebrand a Traditional Holiday

Dining out on Valentine’s Day isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Domino’s channeled this sentiment by encouraging couples to #ValenDineIn with doughlicious pizza. Over 6 thousand people attended the pizza maker’s ValenDine-in Facebook event, where a lucky couple won a “Box of Love” loaded with date night goodies and an even luckier couple won a 22-carat pizza-shaped engagement ring. Thousands more commented, reacted, and shared cards created with an exclusive Snapchat filter. A Spotify playlist, packed with cheesy love songs, helped set the mood. Domino’s website even temporarily crashed. Guess it couldn’t handle an estimated 24 pizzas being ordered per second! Opps.

Aside from the unfortunate site outage, Dominos nailed it this Valentine’s Day by reinventing a traditional holiday, so it would appeal to THEIR clientele. Domino’s managed to create a social event that engaged and attracted couples under the guise of an uneventful, couch-bound evening. With all the holiday clutter, only the brands that leave their customers saying, “you read my mind” are getting any love.

Dominos Valentines Snapcode

In Conclusion

Whether you embrace an existing “fake” holiday, invent your own, or put a clever twist on a traditional holiday, find a way to standout to the peeps you need to reach. Getting noticed doesn’t require massive budgets or resources. All you need is a touch of creativity, a social mindset, and a content-first approach. Contact Fullbottle for more original holiday and content strategies.