The Top Food Hashtag Holidays Your Brand Should Celebrate
When it comes to food holidays, your brand simply can’t afford to ignore them. We’ve all heard people complain that there is a frivolous food holiday for every single day of the year. While there is some truth to that (hello, Lima Bean Respect Day on April 20th), they are actually essential to your marketing planning.
For food marketers in this time since the rise of social media, these hashtag food holidays may have become the highest peaks of your whole content calendar for the year. Think about it. You get to leverage what you know will be the trending topic in advance. Then you can insert your brand into this relevant cultural moment that hundreds of million people will be talking about. It’s not something on the fly; you can plan for these moments. Get all your marketing in place for the best possible creative, promotion and campaign to capitalize on these gold star days.
According to AdWeek, “Foodie holidays allow [marketers] the opportunity to step outside of [their] typical and sometimes harsh and upsetting news cycle to join in on a national conversation that is meant to bring people together.”
These holidays also have the dual advantage of being both low risk and high reward. People’s feeds and media are flooded with delicious pictures of their favorite foods; sentiments are high. People are looking for a deal or fun ways to participate.
Biggest Food Days to Celebrate
Out of all the food hashtag holidays, these are the top five to take note this of:
- Ice Cream Day
- Coffee Day
- Pizza Day
- Taco Day
- Donut Day
Each one of these days attracts record attention, with each racking up between 1.7 and 1.8 billion mentions. Those billions of mentions are mainly driven by Twitter where they are the most public and trackable, but the conversations blow up across social. These days are movements filled with branded promotions, news mentions and round-ups, billions of Tweets, Instagram Stories and much more.
The big brands are great at leveraging these holidays. Starbucks had several posts and a micro-campaign teasing out Coffee Day.
Both Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts go head-to-head on promotions for Donut Day. In fact, on June 7th, Krispy Kreme went in big with Shaquille O’Neil giving away 1 million free donuts. In order to go beyond just the holiday itself, they made a two-part promotion: If 1 million people got a free donut they promised to release a new donut flavor a month later.
Don’t be discouraged, though; it’s not just the big chains or brands that can make a splash. Social media evens the playing field, soo everyone can participate in some of the most talked about days of the year.
You may be at a loss if your food brand isn’t ice cream, coffee, pizza, tacos or donuts. But that shouldn’t stop you. Think outside your normal food lanes. Most foods are complementary to one another, so there is always a way to take part in these days.
For instance, here at EvansHardy+Young, we have joined Donut Day for our apple cider client Martinelli’s, by creating a custom pairing illustration for the day. By showing a jug of refreshing apple juice alongside a pink sprinkled donut, our agency created new dimension for the brand and the holiday.
Our agency even had our client Alexia Foods participate in National Ice Cream Day. While french fries and ice cream are a fantastic combination, they are not the most natural pairing and require some stretching of the imagination.
How Food Marketers can Play to Their Strengths on Hashtag Holidays
While those five food holidays are the biggest, they aren’t the only ones worth joining. Lean into those that directly tie to your product or brand — and lean in hard.and lean in hard. Try to own and obtain a decent share of voice that sets you apart and allows you to stake a claim on the day.
Several of our clients are in the french fry space, and we have developed several different ways to tell that story in new and compelling ways.
For #NationalFrenchFryDay in 2018, we developed different campaigns for retail and foodservice brands. For Grown In Idaho, we orchestrated a 1,000 Bags Up for Grabs sweepstakes providing free fries for a new brand. For a more established foodie-centric frozen potato brand, Alexia Foods, we activated live, on-the-ground coverage of an event, The Windy City Smokeout Festival. As the only french fry sponsor in attendance we took over the day across social media. Taking this event activation to the digital landscape, we utilized a social photo booth to make the day leave a stronger social footprint.
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For 2019, we needed to up the ante for both of these retail brands. We used a custom cake for Grown In Idaho and micro influencers to celebrate.
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For Alexia, we partnered with a top-tier influencer, The Delicious, to celebrate the day and have her run a giveaway. Her image of the Alexia fry board was featured on Cosmopolitan’s and Rachael Ray Magazine’s Instagram and many other highly followed social media accounts.
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On the foodservice side, we went to the king of fries and our Lamb Weston Foodservice Brand Partner, Rev Ciancio. Ciancio, who is the man behind Fun With Fries, traveled to Idaho, and immersed him in a one-of-a-kind fry experience. He visited the Lamb Weston corporate office, paid a visit to the Potato Hotel, and went on the most epic of fry crawls of top chain customers bring the day to life, with no fry left behind.
As Ciancio, who is also a restaurant marketing consultant, states, “You could continue to fight for attention on popular holidays, hoping it drives incremental revenue. Or, you could try to climb a smaller mountain: Get attention and consideration much easier by using hashtag holidays.”
Customize Your Food Brand’s Social Media Approach
If you are looking to capitalize on the food holiday calendar, you need a customized approach. This includes playing to your strengths, not letting your category define which holidays you can and cannot participate in, and tailoring each approach to the particular brand or product.
Whether it’s Potato Month or French Fry Day or Ice Cream Day, consider how you can create customized content, campaigns and promotions to market the day as much as possible.
Food hashtag holidays are a low-hanging fruit and something fun that actually does provide the moments your marketing strategy needs to get your content seen…and that’s worth celebrating.