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Should your brand be celebrating everything?

With Chinese New Year on Saturday – Happy Year of the Rat everyone – you may have noticed more and more brands promoting not only this festival but also various celebrations, commemorations and national days all around the world. But at what point does it become too much and where should brands draw the line?

George Lyons 300X350

George Lyons


Of course, everyone jumps on the Christmas bandwagon, with companies falling over themselves to add a Christmas element to their packaging or even trying to shoehorn something Christmassy into their messaging.

A great (bad) example is the Pepsi Max campaign, ‘Start a new tradition this Christmas.’ You know, the one with the light-up surf boards and a metal version of Jingle Bells? Bless them, every year they keep trying to push this message, but who in their right mind thinks this will catch on or ever be intertwined with Christmas? Could anything be less relevant to Christmas than young surfers drinking flavoured cola on a deserted, dark beach at night? It’s certainly no “Holidays are coming” that’s for sure.

And then we have Halloween. (Shudder)

Simply adding the word ‘Spooky’ to crisps, cakes, weekend breaks and dog food does not a spectral presence make. Or indeed a coherent strategy.

But with certain brands having such a global presence – and their consumers spread all over the world and living in different countries they might not consider to be their ‘home’ country too – how do you communicate with the right audience, about the right event at the right time?

We look to three key indicators for suitable, celebratory event promotion:

  1. Is the event relevant to your brand or product?
  2. Does it connect with your audience in a meaningful way – and will they care?
  3. Is there a cultural significance or a genuine purpose to the communication?

Answer all three of these questions with a ‘yes’, then by all means, you can shout about the Lopburi Monkey Banquet in Thailand every November. If you have two of these, great, if there’s only one, or if you’re struggling to post-rationalise the event and try and make it fit into your story, then probably leave well alone.

If possible, regionalise your message. The Holi Festival of Colour, the Japanese National Cherry Blossom Festival and the Rio Carnival are all massive in their respective regions, but might not be too relevant wherever you are.

As ever, there’s always an easy way around this lack of relevancy. Just add in a promotion. Air New Zealand do this very well in general, but it particularly resonated with their ‘Air All Blacks’ campaign that ran in the lead up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup. New Zealand is synonymous with rugby, so even to non-rugby fans, it made sense that legendary All Blacks were discussing flight safety briefings that supplemented more behind the scenes footage of this fictitious Air All Blacks airline.

There are hundreds of more examples – both good and bad – that focus on particular events or celebrations throughout the world. The key to success is making them relevant to your market and ultimately, feeling as if they’re an authentic extension of your brand.

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