By Alan Keane, Account Executive
Almost three years into my career as a “PR guy” and my friends are surely sick to the back teeth of my smug declarations that I can’t be taken in by marketing and publicity campaigns.
World weary and cynical by the tender age of 27, I pour scorn on campaigns that I declare transparent and obvious.
You won’t catch me out with your celebrity endorsements, your hashtags, your National (insert any commodity here) Day. I’m wise to you.
Then why oh why did I find myself horsing into fish and chips on National Fish and Chips Day on Wednesday last? I don’t usually indulge in takeaways on a weeknight (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it), but I was landed with the realisation that I had been put in my plaice, codded and battered into submission by a campaign even though I knew it was fishy.
You see, creating national days is bread and butter for PR agencies (ssshhh). If you can create or help instigate a day which then shifts a tonne of your client’s product, you have done your job. This is especially useful when it comes to food companies.
Taking the US as an example, January alone includes days dedicated to popcorn (19th), blonde brownies (22nd), pie (23rd), chocolate cake (27th) and corn chips (29th).
That’s five days in one month! Thankfully no one celebrates all of these days, otherwise there would be a major global problem with obesity, amirite?
The best example of a manufactured day of celebration was Arthur’s Day. Created to celebrate Guinness’ 250th anniversary in 2009, this became an internationally celebrated annual festival involving some of the world’s most famous music acts playing in Dublin and further afield. It lasted until Diageo pulled it in 2014, largely due to criticism that it was just an excuse to sell more Guinness.
The thing is, the majority of people skulling pints of the black stuff knew that Arthur’s Day was, to paraphrase the Irish Times, a drink being an excuse for a festival rather than a festival being an excuse for a drink.
Did they care? No. If you give the average consumer an excuse to consume, consume they will. It was probably no coincidence that Diageo didn’t use the same date every year, but rather the same day, Thursday being the optimum day to draw a student crowd. Even those who never touched Guinness may have tried a pint, given the day that was in it.
You’d think someone working in the dark arts of PR would be wise to national days, able to rise above it all. You’d be wrong.
To Fish and Chips!
Oh and, happy International Doughnut Day.