The advertising calendar in the United States focuses on a set number of Christian and Anglo-Saxon holidays such as Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Even though multicultural audiences engage enthusiastically with these celebrations, there are other dates that brands need to keep in mind when designing short and mid-term marketing strategies.
For advertisers, it is key to have a 12-month plan that celebrates the holidays and speaks to the traditions that different communities hold dear. These include, among many others, Chinese New Year, Ramadan, Day of the Dead and Diwali.
Chinese New Year
Chinese communities have a long and robust foothold in the biggest American markets. According to Pew Research, they are the largest group among the 22 million people in the United States that have Asian origins. Cities such as New York or San Francisco already organize lavish celebrations for Chinese New Year, which starts at the beginning of the new moon between January 21 and February 20 each year (in 2023, it is on January 22). So why not let your brand join?
The holiday is associated with an animal in the Chinese Horoscope, which provides plenty of branding opportunities. For example, 2023 will be the year of the Water Rabbit. Advertisers in global cities such as Hong Kong and Sydney have already used the Chinese New Year as a campaign springboard with ads celebrating the themes of family, friendship and cultural pride.
According to Pew Research, Ramadan is a month of fasting and reflection for more than 3.4 million Muslim people in the United States. Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, starting in early April and ending in early May, but the exact date varies each year.
During this period, Muslims worldwide fast during the day and eat after sunset. This holiday would be particularly relevant to the food and beverage industry, as the fast is broken with dinners known as iftar. At the end of Ramadan, during a celebration called Eid, feasts are organized with friends and extended family.
Día de los Muertos
Día de los Muertos has broken into the mainstream worldwide. During this holiday, people of Mexican and Central American origin remember and celebrate the departed. Skulls, costumes and Day of the Dead imagery have already been incorporated into advertising campaigns by the world’s biggest brands. However, marketers should speak to the values of family, memory, and optimism in the face of adversity to connect more authentically with Hispanic audiences.
Diwali is a five-day festival that celebrates the triumph of light over darkness in the Hindi tradition. It is observed by 4.2 million people of Indian origin in the U.S. between mid-October and mid-November and is an essential holiday for Sikhs, Jains, and some Buddhists.
With over one billion people of Indian origin around the world, Diwali should be on every marketer’s calendar. Brands across categories have already launched innovative campaigns in India, a trend that could continue to expand to other global markets.
Avoid exoticizing multicultural holidays
Marketers and advertisers need to avoid mistakenly engaging in cultural appropriation or exploitation, which will alienate diverse consumers. Rather than blatantly using traditions for commercial gain, we need to move towards cultural appreciation, which reveals that cultures are ever-changing.
Advertising strategies need to involve a diverse, multicultural group of creatives and decision-makers behind each campaign. For this reason, it is essential to be supported by a team that reflects the audience you are trying to reach.
Contact My Code for more insights into cultural nuance that translates into deep community engagement, cultural appreciation, and strong multicultural branding throughout the year.