National Food Holidays: Are They Worth It?

Pick a food and there’s probably a day on the calendar dedicated to it. National Pizza Day. National Avocado Day. National Doughnut Day. The list goes on.

And as you’ve probably noticed, brands are eager to take part in these days. From offering deals and promotions to working with spokespeople to engaging on social media, brands are finding new and creative ways to drum up positive coverage of their products through smaller and larger activations.

But where did these days come from? And are they actually worth investing time and money for your brand?

The history of these “holidays” varies greatly – and some have more legitimate origins than others. National Doughnut Day, for example, was started in 1938 by the Salvation Army in Chicago to honor the “Donut Lassies,” the women who served donuts to soldiers during World War II. In contrast, National Avocado Day was simply started by a meal-delivery service in California in 2017. However, that does not stop brands from engaging with any and all national food holidays that come across their radar. Much of the national food holiday phenomenon comes down to one website, National Day Calendar, which is privately owned and has no affiliation with the government or any official institution and even accepts applications to create new national days.

So, is it worth it for your brand to engage with these fake holidays? If done right, absolutely. Here’s a few examples of brands that have successfully engaged with national food holidays and received positive coverage:

Offer Deals

The most popular – and relatively easy – brand activation for national food holidays is offering deals and promotions. I mean, who doesn’t love free food?!

It’s no surprise that Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme – the two biggest donut brands in the country – would choose to invest in National Doughnut Day. Both companies receive coverage year after year for their very simple deals of giving away free donuts – Krispy Kreme with no strings attached and Dunkin Donuts with the purchase of a beverage. Their deals have been covered in outlets like Refinery29, USA Today and Food & Wine.

National Pancake Day was started by IHOP itself. And not surprisingly, the brand largely dominates the media coverage with their simple activation offering free pancakes, which has been covered by similar publications.

Work with Spokespeople

For National Guacamole Day 2018, Wholly Guacamole partnered with Antoni Porowski, Queer Eye’s food and wine guru (who’s known for loving guacamole and avocados) to create a video revealing his favorite guacamole hacks.

While hiring a spokesperson of Antoni’s caliber can be expensive, this activation was extremely successful for the brand. Because there aren’t many activations on National Guacamole Day, this one stood out and positioned the brand as the guacamole expert. Additionally, the video was distributed across social media to Antoni’s 4 million Instagram followers (receiving 602K+ views on his Instagram page alone) and promoted with the #nationalguacamoleday hashtag.

Make an Announcement

An announcement in conjunction with a national food holiday can be another way to gain additional traction that may not have occurred on any other day. Publications will be looking to cover the holiday anyways, and this will be a newsworthy angle to add.

In 2018, Chipotle unveiled a new guacamole size twice as big as its original size. Media scooped up the story, with coverage in USA Today, Thrillist, Bustle, The Daily Meal and Elite Daily. The brand also always offers free guacamole on the holiday as well (today it’s not extra).

Invest Strategically

National food holidays can be quite successful for brands that engage strategically. Deals are an easy way to receive coverage, especially for national brands. And if your brand is willing to invest in a spokesperson or announce something exciting, the coverage could be well worth the cost. According to The Atlantic, “Even spending millions on a Super Bowl commercial cannot command as much favorable attention as a product given freely and enthusiastically by unassuming consumers who blast it into the timelines of everyone they know.”

Ultimately, be smart and strategic when investing in national food holidays to avoid consumer overload and pick and choose the holidays worth engaging with. Afterall, there’s even a National Chop Suey Day.

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