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Published July 14th 2016

React: Want to Make Money? Invent a Day.

Did Cow Appreciation Day make you 'Eat Mor Chikin'? Brandwatch takes a look at the growing trend of brands commandeering days of the year.

Dedicating a day to treasured items and anniversaries is something we’ve done for thousands of years, but our list of days to celebrate is getting longer and longer.

Take some traditional examples – Thanksgiving, Independence Day, World Book Day – they’re all about bringing people together and acknowledging things or moments that are important to a society or community.

Religious days, happy and sombre anniversaries and other key dates are celebrated all year round, involving unique rituals that promote solidarity and cherished values.

But what makes a day a day? And why are our calendars being invaded more frequently by brands?

Getting people on board

Special days go beyond national holidays and more niche examples can demonstrate how they become successful.

In my home town of Hastings in the UK, for example, locals celebrate Pirate Day.

This day, invented a few years ago, involves the people of Hastings getting together, dressing up as pirates, playing games, drinking a lot of ale and breaking the world record for the largest number of “pirates” in the same place at once.

Despite the day having pretty vague historical links with the town and basically being made up out of thin air, it’s often hailed as one of the best days of the year to be in the area.

The atmosphere is incredible, local businesses do really well out of it and everyone gets to dress up and shout “arrr” as they walk down the road.

@rhianmorley: Hastings pirate day Smashed the world record with over 14,000 pirates in one place! pic.twitter.com/hyJWsZvJ
— Shushymario (@shushymario) July 22, 2012

Pirate Day is not a celebration of pirates but a celebration of the town and the community, and it’s a whole lot of fun.

Why the pirate tangent? It demonstrates that a day doesn’t need historical significance or really any rhyme or reason to be successful. 

If the day represents something fun or interesting people will get involved and make it a thing.

How the internet changed our view of the year

The internet changed how we think about locality and community, and so gave us new days and ways to celebrate.

Aside from online versions of traditional worldwide celebrations which will often include things like #IndependenceDay trending or a dedicated Google Doodle,  internet specific and totally unofficial “holidays” have emerged.

Ed Balls Day (a day of hysterical tweeting to celebrate the anniversary of British politician Ed Balls tweeting his own name in 2011) saw it’s fifth year of success this year.

EDBALLSDAYThe internet has definitely made our calendars busier and more varied.

Important dates cross borders in ways they never did before and days that we might not even talk about in “real life” are celebrated with gusto using keyboards.

The commercialization of your calendar

It’s not just the internet that has added significant events to our lives.

Commercial “holidays” like Black Friday and Cyber Monday have enjoyed ever-growing success across the world, using lightning deals and intensive FOMO tactics to get thousands to part with their cash.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s #PrimeDay is increasingly becoming a global calendar institution.

Prime DaySales make great calendar fodder, marking days to save up for, or at least to be notified about in a morning email, leading you to spend your working hours stewing.

We never realised how important that upcoming sale on a set of golf clubs with 40% off was, until finding out they all sold out by 4pm. Oh well, it’ll probably be back on offer again soon – and do we need a new blender? Ours will probably pack in soon, best be prepared.

The glorious intersection: Unofficial online holidays dominated by brands

Anyone who keeps an eye on Twitter’s trending topics will notice that there can often be multiple trending hashtags celebrating particular “days” (often with a dubious definition of the word “national” as the #national____day tweets extend across borders).

We are often covering these days in our What’s Trending? and Social Round-up posts. Here are a few we’ve see recently.

NationalCameraDayDonut daySuperhero dayThese fairly niche days of celebration are all over Twitter almost every day, and the conversations within them are almost always dominated by brands.

All successful official, or unofficial, days present benefits to participants, be that through gifts, indulgences or improved relationships.

These unofficial holidays are no different, and brands who present the most appealing benefits on these themed days are often the ones driving the conversation.

If anyone demonstrates the point, it’s Krispy Kreme’s domination of #SuperHeroDay.

The donut company, not Marvel or DC, was top mentioned tweeter for much of the day as they promoted an (arguably unrelated) donut offer.

They may be inoffensive – who could hate the celebration of candy or donuts? – but the legitimacy of these days is controversial.

Cows have had a lot of appreciation days recently…

Like we said earlier, it just takes people getting involved to make a day out of something. But are some of these so-called themed days pushing their luck?

On 8th July, we found #CowAppreciationDay trending.

In the words of this vegan food blogger, “So it’s Cow appreciation day. I didn’t realise this was a thing but there is a day for everything these days.”

cowsA few days later, we found it trending again.

It’s #CowAppreciationDay! Eat mor chikin than u kan shake a chopstick at. pic.twitter.com/MEyR5uCRTi
— Chick-fil-A, Inc. (@ChickfilA) July 12, 2016

Chick-fil-A’s self proclaimed Cow Appreciation Day (on 12 July) is an annual event and part of their “Eat Mor Chikin” campaign.

It did very well online. But why are there two #CowAppreciationDays? Calendars are surely full enough already?

The power of a one-day-only hashtag

Chick-fil-A is not the only brand to promote the celebration of an unofficial holiday to boost awareness and sales.

#WorldChocolateDay, celebrated recently, saw plenty of brands jumping on board with offers.

World Chocolate DayOften “win” or “deal” are two of the top mentioned words at the center of these themed days, with thousands retweeting brands offering them the chance to win free chocolate, donuts or other commodities being celebrated.

If the days we celebrate say anything about our lives, it’s that consumers are increasingly happy for their calendars and Twitter feeds to be invaded, if it means they can have free or reduced stuff.

It’s a trend that brands are happy to try out, with USA Today reporting that thousands of businesses have requested unofficial holidays be added to the National Day Calendar, with a quarter of the 18,000 requests registered in 2015 relating to specific products.

Dedicating a day to your brand is an effective way to get your name and services front and center in people’s minds and helps consumers justify their purchases.

Would I have paid for 20 Freddos had it not been #WorldChocolateDay? Almost certainly not.

The best way to celebrate #worldchocolateday ???#insidebrandwatchpic.twitter.com/irF22IGzTK
— Gemma Joyce (@GLJoyce) July 7, 2016

It might not seem like your life is drastically altered by it being #WorldPecanPieDay, but subtle changes in your buying behavior on that date can mean big profits for the influential brands pumping resource into being at the center of the “day’s” conversation.

By the way, Happy #BrandwatchReactDay.

Want more juicy data? Follow us @BW_React

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