Key cultural marketing campaigns to include in your 2023 calendar
In the marketing world, there are key dates circled each year in the calendar, whether its major holidays that drive large conversions or industry-related days for special campaigns. As we embrace the larger cultural audience here in North America, it’s important for brands to not only recognize cultural celebrations, but to also celebrate along.
How? We take a look at several major celebrations — Asian Heritage Month, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, Singles’ Day, and Diwali — and explore the significant meanings behind each.
Cultural holidays are a great opportunity for brands to not only plan marketing campaigns and initiatives around, but to develop campaigns with strong and relevant cultural messaging that authentically connects with audiences.
Take a look at the key cultural marketing campaign dates brands need to include in 2023:
Asian Heritage Month
Asian Heritage Month is a month-long celebration where communities honour and celebrate the achievements and contributions of people of Asian heritage.
Celebrated in the month of May, it marks the migration of the first immigrants from Japan to the United States on May 7, 1843.
It is observed in Canada and the United States — where it is known as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month — as both countries are made up of diverse Asian populations. There are many ways for businesses to get creative with Asian Heritage Month. For example, Asian-owned businesses can connect with audiences through a video campaign and share the story behind their business. Alternatively, brands can highlight any Asian team members or people in their local community via their digital channels and campaigns.
Storytelling is a particularly effective medium during this celebration as people look back on the long and rich history of the Asian community — and digital media outlets such as Cold Tea Collective effectively help brands connect with North American Asian millennials through stories.
Dragon Boat Festival
A traditional Chinese holiday, Dragon Boat Festival is the next big celebration after Lunar New Year. With it typically taking place on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month — which falls around late May or June on the Gregorian calendar — the 2023 festival will be held on June 22.
So, why dragons? Dragons are a significant symbol in Chinese culture representing good luck, strength, and health. The occasion is celebrated by eating zongzi — glutinous rice filled with meat, beans, and other fillings, wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves — or sticky rice dumplings, and participating in dragon boat races.
As one of the more notable events during this time of the year, dragon boat races feature wooden boats decorated to resemble a traditional Chinese dragon. A team of 30 to 60 people row in unison while a leader sits at the front to beat a drum that maintains team spirit and consistent pace.
In Vancouver, we were able to experience this exciting event as we journeyed alongside Dragon Boat BC, which included raising awareness for the event and generating extensive media coverage leading up to and throughout the festival.
On the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival or Mooncake Festival, families gather to admire the full moon as it is a symbol of family reunion in Chinese culture.
Typically taking place in mid-September to early October when the moon is said to be the brightest and roundest, the 2023 festival will be happening on September 29.
It is not only celebrated by Chinese people but also by Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese people who have their own traditions. Regardless, eating mooncakes — a pastry filled with lotus-seed paste and salted egg yolk — and displaying lanterns are common activities across all cultures.
As mooncakes are key to the celebration, brands can give them to their clients to express best wishes.
Known as the largest online shopping event in the world, 11.11 festival or Singles’ Day is celebrated in China annually on November 11. The name, Singles’ Day, comes from the actual date which represents four singles standing together (11/11).
However, it is important to note that Singles’ Day falls on significant holidays in Canada and USA — with Remembrance Day and Veterans Day — which is why it is not as heavily advertised or celebrated in North America.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be two of the largest sales events in North America but Singles’ Day completely knocks them out of the park. In 2021, China’s largest e-commerce giants, Alibaba and JD’s Singles’ Day sales record came up to $139 billion — exceeding Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales combined.
Singles’ Day is a prime opportunity for product and e-commerce brands, in particular, to drive sales and engage with the Chinese community, whether it’s locally, nationally, or globally.
For a complete guide to marketing during Singles’ Day, read more here.
Also known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is the biggest and most important religious holiday in India. The five-day celebration falls in late October and November, with the 2023 celebration taking place on November 12.
The festival celebrates the victory of light over dark, and good over evil. Traditionally, those in India would light clay lamps (diya) outside their houses, while Diwali celebrations also include lighting up fireworks and rangoli — which are colourful patterns made on the floor with rice, sand, or flower petals.
Diwali is celebrated in Southeast Asia, Europe, as well as North America where there are large communities of Indian people. According to Statistics Canada, Indo-Canadians are one of the fastest growing communities in Canada, and the second largest non-European group after Chinese Canadians.
Ultimately, brands do not need to plan large marketing campaigns around every single cultural holiday. There’s also a need to avoid exploiting the special day to generate sales, and instead actually appreciating the culture and people.
Simply acknowledging the cultural celebrations in a social media post, for example, is a good gesture of respect. It is more effective for brands to focus their time and effort on holidays that pertain to their target audience or messaging, but also show that they understand their surrounding community.
Reaching a larger cultural audience requires careful consideration and that’s where Sageus Strategy + Digital can help. As a cultural leader in building digital platforms for creativity, growth, and connections — our team can help your brand grow and make a global impact that matters.
With more than two decades of combined experiences working alongside global brands and organizations, Sageus Strategy + Digital focuses on getting to know your business, and help you connect with your audience.
Headquartered in Canada, and committed to making a global, cross-cultural, sustainable impact — we’re your one-stop firm for cultivation and growth, in all areas of branding and marketing.
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