EVER SHARED A FACEBOOK POST about National Coffee Day or National Bacon Day? Chances are there was a marketer behind the scenes encouraging you to do
so. We caught up with National Today CEO Ben
Kaplan to discuss how brands are embracing unknown holidays or inventing their own to drive
MQ: How does a brand invent a holiday?
BEN KAPLAN: Creating a new holiday requires
three ingredients: an initial group of “seed” influencers, a news hook that can generate mass
media presence, and social and digital assets to
rally the troops. The most viral holidays are the
ones that are simple, surprising, and significant.
For many brands, however, the fastest path to an
“ownable” holiday is to leverage a holiday that
already exists but isn’t widely utilized. For Budweiser, for instance, we piggy-backed on National Drink Beer Day, a holiday that is mentioned
sporadically in the media each year. We generated a Super Bowl ad’s worth of brand awareness
by designing the, “what your drink says about
you,” campaign and ad for that specific day.
MQ: How do you get consumers to jump on the
bandwagon to celebrate and share?
BK: We use a combination of broadcast, print,
and online media to spread awareness about a
holiday and then spark consumer action using time triggers, location triggers, emotional
triggers, and scarcity triggers. For instance,
for the Postmates food delivery app, we drove
12,000+ new customers on Father’s Day weekend (time trigger) by saying that we were giving away 10,000 orders (scarcity trigger) of
dad’s favorite meal (emotional trigger) to Houston families (location trigger). We replicated
that in key Postmates markets across the U.S.
To find a viral message that works, we typically
A/B test 8 different versions of the story, measure
how the media responds to each story, and then
double-down on the headlines and stories that
MQ: What are the challenges and opportunities
associated with creating these viral holidays?
BK: One challenge with creating or leveraging
these holidays is that there are many moving
pieces including surveys, social content, influencer templates, PR pitches, coupons and in-store
KEY MARKETER: THE MQ&A
NATIONAL TODAY CEO
BEN KAPLAN REVEALS
HOW BRANDS CREATE
THEIR SPECIAL DAYS
BY DIANNA DILWORTH Ben Kaplan