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National days: bit of fun or corporate plot?

A rise in random ‘national days’ may just be a tactic to get us all to buy more stuff.

Happy Toasted Marshmallow Day y’all! Hope you’ve got your s’mores at the ready. Oh, and for those of you that didn’t read this article the day it came out, we instead wish you a Happy Trail Mix Day / Blueberry Popsicle Day / Welsh Rarebit Day, depending on which day of the week it currently is.

As you’ve probably gathered, there are a lot of so-called ‘National Days’ floating around, few of which have any kind of official recognition. Most people ignore them, but those who engage with them often see them as a lighthearted excuse to discuss or indulge in a fun activity or treat. But some people are concerned that these days are fundamentally a marketing tactic designed to encourage us to consume more stuff than we otherwise would. That might be good for some businesses, but it may be less good for people’s wallets and/or health.

There’s certainly more economics behind National Days than first appears. For example, National Ice Cream Day was invented in 1984 by the then-President of the USA, Ronald Regan, to help out the US dairy industry. Well, allegedly. Regan said it was actually because ice cream is a “nutritious and wholesome food” (ah, the ‘80s) but it seems somewhat coincidental that at the same time the dairy industry, which employed thousands of Americans and put billions of dollars into the economy, was struggling to shift enough stock.

Regardless, it worked. Since National Ice Cream Day came about, there’s been a noticeable jump in the amount of ice cream sold on July 15th. So perhaps it’s not surprising that many more National Days have recently been created by companies who sell something related to whatever is being celebrated. Especially as there’s now an additional benefit: as National Days often come with lots of direct and indirect encouragement for people to share what they’re doing for the day on social media, they also get millions of people thinking about a product without the companies that sell it having to spend a penny on advertising.

Read our explainer on: consumption.

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