How Do We Love Hallmark Holidays? Let Me Count The Ways.

February 3, 2020

Welcome to February. A month marked by love poems, conversation hearts, chocolates, flowers, cards and cupid.

As most PR specialists will tell you, “Hallmark Holidays” like Valentine’s Day provide an opportunity to make a media splash—if done right. These annual occasions give companies the opportunity to reinforce key brand attributes, show their personality, create viral buzz—and hopefully have a little fun along the way.

There are countless ways brands can integrate holidays and themes into their communications programs. Here are a few that have proven to work:

Infuse Your Campaign with Comedy

Humor. The instigator of chuckles, deep belly laughs and viral buzz. One great campaign rooted in this approach comes from HotelTonight. The travel company recognized how people often struggle staying with their extended families over the winter holidays. Across multiple channels, it ran visuals and content that tapped into this universal truth. Check out this nugget:

“Ready for the holidays? Grandma’s inflating your air mattress and checking it twice. Maybe this year you should visit, not stay… and book a hotel with HotelTonight.”

When using humor, make sure you test the campaign with multiple audiences to ensure it doesn’t cross the line into a gray area that might be offensive.

Have Fun with Furry Friends

I clearly remember the day (way back in 2013) that Uber and Cheezburger, one of the Internet’s most popular sites, announced they would deliver kittens to offices around Seattle in honor of National Cat Day. Cue screams of excitement and the team frantically trying to sign up for a delivery. The stunt was a genius way to reinforce Cheezburger’s offering as the largest collection of cat memes, and Uber’s value proposition of “setting cities in motion.” The campaign was so memorable, I still think about it seven years later.

REI also jumped on the pet bandwagon with its April Fool’s Day REI Pet Ventures campaign. Pet parents chose from several outdoor adventure experiences such as Great Smokey Mountains Glamping for Cats, Yellowstone Kayaking Escape for Betta Fish and New Zealand Country Cycling: Mini-Donkey Route. You get the drift. People love animals—nothing about that will change. If you can come up with a clever campaign involving furry friends, it might also earn you some PR love.

*Make sure no animals are harmed in the making of your campaign.

Leverage Holidays for Good

While many holiday-related campaigns are popular because they are funny or outrageous, those that have a feel good element often build more goodwill.

Last year on National Donut Day, Daylight Donuts, Regal Bakery, and 7-Eleven partnered with The Salvation Army Hawaiian & Pacific Islands to donate proceeds from sales to local Salvation Army Corps. Customers could also donate via a red kettle at Krispy Kreme or Pipeline Bakery & Creamery. These National Donut Day celebrations supported the good work of the Salvation Army which first established National Donut Day in Chicago in 1938. The generosity of these companies and their patrons enables the Salvation Army to continuously hold events and deliver sweet treats to those in need.

If you decide to run a holiday-related campaign, think about how you can benefit other organizations that align with your company’s values. It will go a long way with your employees and customers.

Introduce Your Own Holiday

When there isn’t a holiday that aligns with your brand, or you want to stay away from holidays with too much noise, create your own celebration. Subaru leveraged this approach as part of its Subaru Loves Pets campaign, declaring October 22 National Make A Dog’s Day. This holiday enables Subaru to highlight its partnership with ASPCA which has “provided nearly $25 million to support the health, rescue, transport and adoption of more than 57,000 animals.” I love this campaign as it demonstrates how Subaru supports something that is incredibly important to its customers. It is also perfectly aligned with the company’s tagline of “more than a car company.” It’s not a far stretch to assume that Subaru’s vehicles are also designed to cater to pet loving consumers.

Capture Your Audience

Once you’ve come up with your eye-catching campaign, make sure you can capture information on those visiting your website so you can continue the conversation with them. Have your potential customers sign up for a newsletter or submit their email for a chance to win the very thing that may have piqued their interest in your company, product or service.

Karli Barokas, CEO

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