Did you know that, if you have enough money, you can create your own holiday? A perfect example of such a holiday falls in the middle of the month of February every year, and we call it Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about love, but it’s really about making money.
When you are young, you might give Valentine’s Day cards and candy conversation hearts to people you had a crush on. As you got older, Valentine’s Day turned into fancy dinners with your S.O. or expensive gifts like jewelry, along with those same cards, candy and maybe even some flowers because that is what’s expected of you. By then you were caught in the system and couldn’t avoid the expense.
All of these tokens of your affection came at a premium due to the sheer fact that you wanted them for Valentine’s Day. When you are paying for love, things can add up real quick. Those of you who have dropped bread on Valentine’s Day gifts should not be a surprised to learn that Valentine’s Day, as we now know it, was actually the creation of a corporation as a veiled attempt to get paid. In 1913, the Hallmark Company decided to usurp the existing Valentine’s Day to use as a vehicle for selling greeting cards and we’ve been paying for it ever since. It was a stroke of marketing genius, to say the least. The cash pulled in from Valentine’s Day card sales allowed Hallmark to survive several financial collapses and calamities that sunk bigger companies in the following decades.
If Christmas has taught us anything, it’s that this country loves a holiday that requires us to buy food, cards, gifts and flowers for other people. So why is it taking so long for another corporation to step up and lay claim to its own cash cow/holiday like Hallmark? If a greeting card company can do it, why can’t anyone else? Amazon is trying it with Prime Day, but that’s a little too on the nose, and Jeff Bezos already seems like a bit of a creep, so I don’t see it becoming the next Valentine’s Day. A new holiday that will last in the public consciousness like Hallmark’s requires a bit more cover if you want buy-in from the people.
For example, let’s say you own ACME, a company that manufactures fire extinguishers. You’ve noticed that sales are flat every winter and you need a way to get the public’s interest during those cold months. All across the country, millions of fire extinguishers sit tucked away in some cabinet, not being used. ACME could try to fix this by starting a lot of fires, but that strategy hasn’t worked too well for PG&E and it’s not likely to work for ACME. Creating a holiday called ACME Fire Extinguisher Day probably wouldn’t help increase sales either, and sounds a bit desperate. Instead, ACME could mask their true intention to increase fire extinguisher sales by creating a new holiday called, Fire Safety Day.
You might think that Fire Safety Day would be about fire preparedness and prevention, but that’s actually covered during Fire Safety Week, which is another observance all together. Fire Safety Day differs in that it is one day instead of a whole week, and the sole focus of it is on making sure your fire extinguishers are in proper working order. On Fire Safety Day, you are encouraged to test your fire extinguisher out in your yard. Go ahead and drain the whole canister and put a video of it on YouTube to show your friends how safe you really are! Challenge them to make a bigger cloud than you! By the way, did you hear ACME is having a sale on fire extinguishers that day?
Do you see what I did there? You were so caught up in the mechanics of Fire Safety Day and your potential YouTube fame that you didn’t realize ACME just wants you to use up your existing fire extinguisher so that you have to buy another one, preferably made by ACME. I mean, they are having that awesome sale, after all.
It’s just that simple; all it takes is a little cunning and a good cover story to create your own annual cash cow. With the way things are going in the world, every corporation should be trying to come up with a holiday to shore up against the crashing waves ahead. Look how well it’s worked for Hallmark with Valentine’s Day and all they sell is crummy greeting cards. Thanks to those crummy cards, Hallmark made it through the Great Depression, the oil shortages of the 1970s, the Dot Com bubble, 9/11, several housing bubbles and the Great Recession and managed to take a lot of your money in the process. You can hate the fact that Hallmark leveraged a holiday to create demand, but you have to at least admit that it worked. Why no one else has followed suit is beyond me.