Blog : Maniacs

Christmas Party Dos and Don’ts

Christmas Party Dos and Don’ts

With Christmas now only one week away, here at Stripe we wanted to get into the spirit of it all, and have a bit of Christmas fun. This post is slightly different from our usual topics, but we think you’ll like it nonetheless.

The festive season is well and truly underway, and that means the time has come for the famous staff Christmas party. A time to reflect on the year and celebrate, while drinking copious amounts of mulled wine and singing Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ at the top of your lungs.

Some seasoned veterans will be all too familiar with the Christmas party set up, however, there will be some – like myself, who may be attending their first proper one. In preparation for that, we’ve outlined some of the Christmas Party dos and don’ts.

The Outfit

I immediately disqualify myself from giving any advice on this section, my wardrobe is bland, to say the least, and consists of about 3 different colours. Nevertheless, I checked in with some of the more stylish members of the office, and they provided some more solid advice:
  • Sparkle is always a yes
  • Don’t be afraid to be out there
  • ALWAYS bring a coat – you won’t regret it
  • If you’ve got it flaunt it, if you don’t fake it – eyelashes and nails at the ready
  • One word – SPANX

The Booze

As a Londoner, I have the false impression that we can handle our drinks better than the rest of the United Kingdom. This false sense confidence resulted in challenging some of our Scottish co-workers to a drinking competition which I now hugely regrets. so don’t be like me, take the advice:
  • Mulled wine can sneak up on you
  • Drinking competitions are all fun and games to begin with (literally) but they never end well
  • Scots can DRINK

Dance Moves 

Each person will have their own approach to this. Some will stand in a corner nurturing a beer, some will bring out the Dad moves (who doesn’t love the casual dad bop?) but we all know that there are those that will throw caution to the wind and really give into their inner David Brent – there’s always one.
Whatever your style is, dance moves always make the highlight reels, so be prepared for your moves to be immortalised and sent around the office for post-Christmas party entertainment. Our advice here at Stripe? GO FOR IT! IT’S CHRISTMAS!
Filling our feeds with food

Filling our feeds with food

Picture this: I’m meeting some friends for brunch on a typical Sunday morning. I order an acai smoothie bowl and a matcha latte.

What happens when the waitress brings across our order? My hand reaches for my iPhone, opens Instagram and I’m being absorbed into my online journal, also known as my Instagram Story. After a quick edit and a location tag – because no one has time to be elusive these days – I admire my perfectly filtered photograph starring the components of my brunch on an oh-so-edgy tarnished wooden table. A second later it is posted for the whole world to see.

What actually is the purpose of this post? Who knows and really, who cares. But who needs to care? It’ll be gone within 24 hours anyway.

Since 2010, 208 million posts have been shared on Instagram with the ‘food’ hashtag. The majority of these are nothing more than a fairly standard plate of food which has been greatly improved by some good lighting and careful editing.

The current mentality seems to be that if it’s not posted on Instagram, it didn’t happen.

On the other hand, the app that went live in 2010, provides a platform for restaurant brands to engage and adjust to the growth of social media and its consumers. With its 600 million active users, Instagram has become a drawing board for foodies, creating a bible for potential food and drink hotspots with the addition of the location sticker. If clicked on by the consumer, this could earn more revenue for the brand and provide the user with the ability to see live events from a chosen location.

What makes Instagram unique is that it has the ability to hold more worthy photographs in comparison to an average foodie website. This is because of you, the user and consumer. People love food photography because people simply love to look at food, and if there is a personality behind the visual, it immediately becomes more relatable. Due to increased popularity of international food culture, more users are willing to try different cuisines than ever before, as they have previously ‘seen it on Instagram’ and therefore, it is familiar.

Standing on your chair to capture the aerial view of your food and drinks is something I must admit is out with my boundaries. However, if you think that your meal is worthy of an Instagram upload, then surely that’s hats off to the chef! I’m not saying that my acai smoothie bowl was remotely average, I mean, it still made it to the gram. However, I am greatly aware of the danger of total addiction to an edited and, to an extent, false view of the world, which makes reality look boring in comparison.

Equally, the popularity of Instagram has certainly had some negative impacts. It has created a competitive marketplace for restaurants, as they now have to adapt to being ‘Instagrammable’ by featuring tables, chairs, cutlery, dishes and other interior that simply are photographs waiting to happen. The pressure behind the app can also force brands into creating new recipes for the sole purpose of becoming a strong Instagram trend, which means the app is costing restaurants extra money as they are giving into the 21st century #foodporn craze.

Whether you choose to believe it or not, Instagram is addictive. The aspiration to achieve some social gratification from a post that features last night’s dinner leaves you on a cliff hanger as you wait patiently for those likes and views to rake up. But what this vulnerability can also question is: does the food we photograph actually taste as good as it looks, or is it all just an irrelevant false illusion?

The answer comes down to a matter of opinion, but one thing is for certain – Instagram is fed by our love of food.

The Best of Burns Night 2017

The Best of Burns Night 2017

Yesterday evening saw all the MacDonald’s and MacDougall’s, Campbell’s and Cameron’s and all those with the slightest inkling of Scottish heritage celebrate one of the foremost aspects of Scots’ culture.

Every year, parties gather from Anchorage to Adelaide, Santiago to Seoul to boldly Address the Haggis. It’s also another perfect excuse to cross arms, join hands with your fellow Scots and revel in Auld Lang Syne once more, having most likely belted out the same tune just weeks ago at Hogmanay.

Burns and Scottish culture can, and has been celebrated, in a whole host of ways. Here are some of my favourite moments from brands and organisations marking #BurnsNight2017

Up first, the UK’s leading haggis producer, Macsween of Edinburgh, created Haggis Watch for their social media channels which saw gamekeeper Archie go on the hunt for the mythical creature that is haggis. Burns is a time for celebration in Scotland and Macsween wanted to have some fun with it and show the diversity of Haggis. A great series of video content.

The quintessential Scottish brand, IRN-BRU, celebrated Scotland’s bard in their own inimitable way with a poem dedicated to our national ginger drink.

But a spotlight on us Scots doing things differently goes to Universities Scotland, who held a Burns Night with a twist. The body that represents all nineteen higher education institutions in Scotland hosted students from over 180 countries to celebrate the richness, diversity and strength of Scottish culture. Guests were invited to attend the event at Edinburgh Corn Exchange in their home countries’ national dress. The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was there to welcome guests, stating that if Robert Burns were alive today, he would celebrate the diversity and culture of Scotland. The event was used to launch Universities Scotland’s latest campaign #ScotlandWelcomestheWorld. An evening to remember and a campaign to look out for!

imgID96504101.jpg.gallery

Finally, we spotted Scottish designer, Anna McManus, re-imagining Burns as a modern Trainspotter in the mould of Begbie, choosing tracksuits, choosing Buckfast, choosing life. Timely and quite simply, fantastic!

This year, us Scots continued to mark the 25th January with a bit of humour, a whole lot of celebration and a reminder of our inclusive and diverse culture. Now for next year!

 

Halloween stunt round-up 2016

Halloween stunt round-up 2016

Halloween is here and once again it brings the opportunity for brands to show off their fun side with spooky stunts and gory social media campaigns. It’s one topic you really can’t get wrong, whether it’s Burger King trolling its rival or the Vans horror party, many brands roll out a Halloween themed campaign every year. We’ve pulled together our favourite garish stunts for 2016.

 

Terror-ific tiger pumpkins go free at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo

To help celebrate the launch of its latest enclosure, Tiger Tracks, RZSS Edinburgh Zoo offered free entry to children under-15 in exchange for a carved pumpkin. The campaign, launched with Stripe, was such a success, over 1,000 youngsters were given free admission and got up close to some of the world’s most exotic animals including Jambi and Baginda, the zoo’s pair of critically-endangered Sumatran tigers.

tiger tracks pumpkins Edinburgh Zoo

 

Spend the night in Dracula’s castle with Airbnb

Airbnb launched an international competition to give two lucky guests the chance to spend the night in non-other than Mr Dracula’s very own castle tucked away in the mountains of Transylvania. The lucky pair will be hosted by the nephew of Bram Stoker, the author of 19th century gothic novel, Dracula. You can’t get more haunted house than that.

dracula's castle interior

 

House of Vans to host Halloween horror immersive experience

The Haunted House of Vans is a Halloween-themed event being held this weekend at an indoor skatepark in the heart of London. With all things spooky including gory performances and classic horror movies, Vans has pulled out all the stops to throw its loyal customers a truly terrifying Halloween party and of course, the best dressed guest will win an exclusive prize.

house of vans halloween

 

Burger King dressed up as the ghost of McDonalds

Always one for poking fun at its rivals, Burger King dressed up as McDonalds for a truly tongue and cheeky dig at its archenemy. The fast food chain covered a restaurant with a giant ‘bedsheet’ and pitched up a sign that read: “Booooooo! Just kidding, we still flame grill our burgers. Happy Halloween”. Your move McDonalds.

burger-king mcdonalds ghost Halloween stunt

Feuding in the Front Row: Vogue vs. Bloggers

Feuding in the Front Row: Vogue vs. Bloggers

I normally take Vogue’s word as truth; its latest move however, is not one I’m sure I agree with. In an article commenting on Milan Fashion Week, a selection of Vogue’s top editors and directors got together to criticise the new residents of fashion week, the bloggers, calling them ‘pathetic’ and ‘embarrassing’. Cue a lot of very angry fashionistas…

Sally Singer, Vogue Creative Digital Director said; “Note to bloggers who change head-to-toe, paid-to-wear outfits every hour: Please stop. Find another business. It is beyond funny that we even still call them ‘bloggers’ as so few of them even do that anymore.”

And Alessandra Codinha, Vogue.com Fashion News Editor, remarked: “Rather than a celebration of any actual style, it seems to be all about turning up, looking ridiculous, posing, twitching in your seat as you check your social media feeds, fleeing, changing, repeating. It’s all pretty embarrassing.”

Ouch.

 

The story so far

So, what is it about the fashion bloggers that has got Vogue’s back up? Many suggested it was jealousy or that these influential members of the Vogue team were reluctant to adapt to the constantly evolving fashion landscape. Rewind only a short few years and fashion week was absolutely the playground of the editors, stylists and buyers. Now, there has been an obvious shift and it’s clear that this new wave of young, hot, in-demand style icons are taking over.

Fashion Week FROW
One editor expressed her distaste at the amount of time a blogger spends on their mobile either documenting the runway or checking social media feeds. Although, they probably do watch the entire show via their iPhone screen, that is what’s required to give followers what they want. And you can bet there will be a Vogue photographer at the end of every runway – isn’t that the same thing?

The nature of blogging has certainly changed a great deal over the last couple of years and a blogger’s social media channels have become just as important, if not more so than the blogs themselves. Social media allows bloggers to share their experiences instantly and allow avid followers to experience these events alongside them. Bloggers provide an instant access to the fabulous world of fashion week; they capture the hustle and bustle pre-show, give us a first-hand look at who made the cut and who didn’t and, often, showcase the runway show in its entirety, all from the FROW. This means we no longer need to wait for a magazine to come out, or even online platforms to be updated – we see it in real time.

But, are the bloggers really to blame? Shouldn’t Vogue be pointing the fingers at their friends, the designers? It is after all, the designers who will select the lucky influencers that they wish to show off their clothes and attend their shows. In recent years, successful fashion bloggers have amassed a staggering social media following and considerable influence so it’s really no wonder the fashion designers are turning to these social media moguls to showcase their brands. Fashion week is changing and at many shows this season, these millennial influencers, a mix of models, actors and the insta-famous, populated the front row and even the catwalk, leaving the fashion editors, literally, taking a back seat.

Carla FerragniVogue is extremely powerful, but so is the blogging community and I can’t help thinking that Vogue should embrace the changing face of the fashion industry, rather than trying to bring down their online counterparts. In a way, what Vogue and the best fashion bloggers do isn’t all too different. They promote their favourite brands, and they are paid for it. Perhaps most confusing, Vogue Spain’s latest cover girl was none other than super blogger Chiara Ferragni (The Blonde Salad). So it seems like Vogue are happy to use these influencers to sell magazines, just not so happy to welcome them into the world of fashion week.

 

What happens next?

There’s no doubting the fashion bloggers are here to stay and they have done a great job of establishing their role in the industry, securing attendance at the hottest events and partnerships with the best brands and cultivating a loyal and dedicated following. Perhaps Vogue needs to learn to share the limelight and feel assured in its own position and contribution to the world of fashion, it is Vogue, after all! At Stripe, we work closely with both online influencers and traditional print media and see the benefit and value of these platforms both individually and, even more so,  when they are integrated and a campaign or message can be communicated via the two.

Although, all being said, I’ll still be picking up the November issue this week…

Snapchat: the gift that keeps on giving

Snapchat: the gift that keeps on giving

It’s been quite the summer for Snapchat. The introduction of Memories, Instagram causing outrage by basically stealing Stories, CEO Evan Spiegel popping the question to Victoria’s Secret Angel Miranda Kerr – every tech geek’s dream – and now its rebrand to Snap Inc. and of course the launch of Spectacles.

We’re a bit obsessed by Snapchat at the moment, everything they do seems to work. But Spectacles? Spectacles caused a bit of a discussion on Monday morning. What’s the point? Can anyone really be bothered buying and wearing a pair of sunglasses for the sole purpose of capturing a video? Have they learned nothing from Google Glass?

We weren’t sure. However, having dug a little deeper we think this might actually work.

 

What are ‘Spectacles’?

If you haven’t heard – which from a bit of research (a question in the girls’ WhatsApp group) not many outside of the communications industry have – a bit of background for you. Spectacles are the latest piece of wearable tech. A range of sunglasses from Snap Inc. that will record 10 to 30 second video clips with just a tap, the video footage will then wirelessly transfer to a user’s Memories in the Snapchat app. Spectacles look nice, nicer than Google Glass anyway, and will be available in three colours when they launch in the US this autumn for $129.99.

Initially, I had no idea who would want these. Why wouldn’t you just use your phone like we have been? But, actually, imagine being able to capture one of your favourite memories or events, then going back to see that memory exactly the way you experienced it. For me, it feels like they’ve introduced the GoPro for everyday members of Gen Z. Instead of capturing outdoor, extreme activities you can record everyday moments – the last day of school, the family BBQ, your best friend’s wedding. They’ve introduced the fun factor that was missing from Google Glass.

 

How will this work for brands?

A recent piece of research by Cisco Systems predicted that 80% of consumer internet consumption will be video content by 2019, and just last month Facebook sheepishly confirmed that text posts are declining on the platform in favour of video and images. We know video is becoming more and more important and it looks very much like its popularity will continue. The technology Snap Inc. are introducing means that the circular video can play full screen on any device, in any orientation, and captures the human perspective with a 115 degree field of view. Meaning even if you aren’t there, you can experience it, not just watch it – exactly what got people so excited about VR tech this year.

I think the popularity will depend on the early adopters. Will Gen Z influencers get on board; can we imagine the likes of Kylie Jenner, Zoella and Calvin Harris, some of Snapchats most loyal users, wearing Spectacles? I’m not sure. But, I’m looking forward to seeing how it works.

Brands ready to rumba after coming in from the Cuban cold

Brands ready to rumba after coming in from the Cuban cold

This may be sacrilege to some of my colleagues at Stripe, but I must confess that I’ve never watched Keeping up with the Kardishians.

To be honest, I’d sooner rub raw onions in my eyes. Yet the latest instalment of this hit US TV series has grabbed my attention due to the location it was filmed: Cuba – a country I visited back in May.

Dubbed the episode where Kim and Kanye ‘smoke cigars, eat rice and beans and take selfies’, it has drawn criticism for glamourising a country without showing the real problems.

While some of these concerns may be justified, I’d argue the glamourisation of Cuba to leverage brand awareness is a growing trend not confined to the Kardashians.

Out of exile

Under communist state rule, the country has remained a brand-free zone for more than 50 years.

That’s right…no Coca Cola, no McDonalds and no Starbucks.

It’s hard to believe in 2016 that free trade and commercial advertising remains prohibited on the island. But this may be about to change, after President Obama and Raul Castro signed an historic trade agreement earlier this year signalling an end to a stand-off between the two countries.

With Cuba ‘officially’ open for business it appears brands are looking to seize the opportunity of the moment to be part of a country on the verge of great social, political and economic change.

Back in vogue

Cuba has fast become the hottest place for brands to be associated with in 2016. The Rolling Stones performed to more than a million people in March, shortly followed by Chanel which launched its latest fashion collection with a catwalk through the iconic streets of Havana.

Havana Cuba - Rolling Stones 2016

 

Havana Cuba - Chanel 2016

 

But what value does Cuba offer to brands?

We’re always searching for compelling ways to tell stories which resonate with our client’s audiences. At a time when content remains king, Cuba is brimming with vibrant and dynamic narratives. It has a rich and colourful identity thanks to its passion, culture and history and these qualities offer brands lots of emotional hooks to connect and engage their audiences.

Rum brand, Havana Club, for example, is the latest to serve-up a slice of Cuba as it looks to connect consumers in London to its Caribbean roots. Billed as the ultimate pop-up, Casa Havana will use oculus-powered virtual reality to wow the UK capital with a full-sensory experience enabling visitors to get a unique feel of Cuban life, its environment and identity.

VR offers the ultimate gateway for brands to connect audiences to exotic and intriguing places like Cuba, and it will be interesting to see if there is a growing trend for using VR from travel brands in the future as more consumers look to try before they buy.

Kim and Kanye’s latest adventure certainly shines a spotlight on the growing appetite for Cuba as a future place to visit, invest and do business.

A thawing in US/Cuban relations has grabbed the world’s attention and while I’m not a fan, the latest episode of The Kardishians arguably helps to inadvertently raise awareness of the country’s less glamourous side by captivating new audiences to go and find out more about this enigmatic island.

The Power of the Podcast

The Power of the Podcast

If you’re like me and spent Christmas 2014 binge-listening to the dramatic podcast, Serial, then I’m sure you’ll have heard the exciting news! That’s right – Adnan Syed, the subject of the podcast, was last week granted a new trial, which could potentially see the overturning of his 1999 murder conviction.

For those of you who aren’t part of the Serial world, what’s really unique about this story is that what led to the dramatic turn in events was unquestionably the power of the podcast.

Podcasts are by no means a new medium. People have been recording and streaming audio content since the start of the century and the birth of the Apple iPod. While outlets such as The BBC and The Guardian published and promoted a range of podcasts, supplementing their everyday content, for the last decade the medium remained reasonably niche – we all had the podcast app icon on our iPhone, but probably utilised it about as much as we do the stocks app.

Everything changed with the arrival of Serial in 2014. Over twelve tantalising weeks, former journalist Sarah Koenig shared intriguing puzzle pieces of the story of Adnan and the 1999 murder of his high school girlfriend, Hae Min Li, of which he was convicted aged 17.  Koenig’s masterful storytelling reeled in a worldwide audience of millions. She remained impartial, presenting both sides of the argument, telling the story through muffled calls to Adnan in prison, excerpts from his murder trial and eerie visits to the crime scene.

Serial confirmed the potential of the podcast as a medium. Both entertaining and intriguing, the story translated seamlessly onto social media, creating a global conversation and a movement to #FreeAdnan.

The podcast gave Koenig a platform to compose a riveting piece of investigative journalism, the likes of which is often marginalised in today’s newspapers. Serial engaged with massive social media audiences and had a clear real-world impact, which poses the question – are podcasts the future of journalism?

Podcasts are cost-effective and give creators ample time and space to explore subjects they are passionate about, speaking to an ever-growing audience. There has already been a slew of new podcasts following the Serial format. A recent personal favourite is the UK podcast Untold: Murder. Endorsed by none other than Hugh Grant, the podcast explores the as yet unsolved murder in 1987 of private investigator, Daniel Morgan, and calls for listeners to share their own information and theories online – taking the essence of Crime Watch into the 21st century.

Podcasts are also creating a new space where marginalised groups can have their voices heard. Several feminist podcasts are currently among the most popular in the UK charts including The Guardian’s What would a Feminist do? and Emma Gannon’s Ctrl, Alt, Delete. Through their podcasts, these hosts are creating a space for feminist discussion and directly engaging with their audience.

So while some people might think podcasts are a thing of the past, just like the iPods that spawned them, they have been evolving both in terms of content and reach. Check out your podcasts app and you’ll find a podcast for everything from sports and movies to politics and economics. There’s also lots of fun to be found through the podcasts, with many comedians taking to the medium, such as the hilarious My Dad Wrote a Porno and The Adam Buxton Podcast.

Podcasts present an untapped resource to the communications world, with opportunities for professionals like us to engage with produces, pitch interviews and set up brand partnerships.

Half of podcast listeners are aged 12-34 and 54% are male. Therefore engaging with the shows they subscribe to will help the brands we represent engage with these typically hard to reach demographics. And with 92% of podcast listeners active on social media, the opportunities are huge.

If the podcast has the power to potentially free a man from prison, then just think of the possibilities it has for brands.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup and Qatar’s PR juggling act

The 2022 FIFA World Cup and Qatar’s PR juggling act

“The winner to organise the 2022 FIFA World Cup is, Qatar!” These are the words declared on 2 December 2010 by Sepp Blatter that remain fresh in the memory of so many in the footballing world. They are also the words which have arguably changed a nation and how football is run forever. I will always remember the atmosphere in Aspire Park in Doha. Men, women and children, faces illuminated looking up at a giant screen. The declaration ceremony was taking place a world away in a much colder Zurich. The area erupted when ‘QATAR’ was pulled from the envelope. People shouted, screamed and some even cried with happiness. It was then that I realised that this was to be much more than just a football tournament. It was going to be a catalyst for change on a political, cultural and human level. It was going to be about sport breaking down stereotypical barriers, and a unique opportunity for Qatar to leave a lasting legacy to change perceptions about the country on a global scale.

However, no more than a few hours later, the world’s media scolded the decision and brought Qatar’s biggest ever party to an almighty halt. Allegations of corruption and bribery soon followed and even now in 2016 casualties of the decision continue to be thrust into the media spotlight with the bid now under FBI investigation. Qatar is having what we like to call in the industry, a ‘PR nightmare’.

Despite the opportunity before them, I have to agree with comments made by Nicholas McGheehan, Gulf Analyst at Human Rights Watch recently that Qatar seemed to be “catastrophically” unprepared for the scrutiny that followed this big decision. Its efforts at public relations have been poor, especially in comparison to the United Arab Emirates who have been more effective in handling the country’s image around the world.

I’m a strong advocate of giving the underdog a chance at proving themselves. But I also have to acknowledge the negative image which has been portrayed so far amidst the allegations of corruption, bribery, human rights abuses, lack of footballing history and the uncontrollable climate issue. I have been lucky enough to live in Qatar and I agree that they have a lot of work to do to combat this negative reputation and I certainly don’t condone the said allegations. But what Qatar is being denied is a chance to tell both sides of the story. Qatar has gone from a relatively anonymous backwater to strong economic and political power, becoming a key player in global affairs. Its vision and ambition has to be admired, but one has to question if Qatar being thrust into the global media spotlight was too much too soon?

Amongst the damning headlines, Qatar has also been catching the eyes of the world by means of its vast wealth. It is the richest country in the world per capita and has been involved with the purchase, investment and sponsorship of some of the world’s biggest brands including Harrods, FC Barcelona, Paris Saint Germain and The Shard. Despite rapid development and eye catching purchases, Qatar is still a developing country with a number of teething problems and in my opinion not being able to control its image has been a major issue. This has created a problem in that FIFA sponsors including Coca-Cola, McDonalds and Budweiser are facing increasing pressure from groups to pull out of sponsoring the 2022 World Cup due to the allegations. So far, a few have voiced concern, but none have pulled out. A move which could be explained by the monetary and advertising value that the World Cup can bring.

Overall, Qatar’s PR juggling act is a tough one. On one side they are trying to promote the 2022 FIFA World Cup as a great event and a unique opportunity to showcase Qatar as a country, but on the other it is trying to counter negative press around current teething problems as a developing country. It will always be remembered for being the first World Cup in the Middle East, the first World Cup to be held in the winter and also being known as one of the most controversial decisions in the history of sport. Qatar needs to work on its global image and make sure that any activity is appropriate and doesn’t open it up to further criticism. Global sporting events magnify a country’s flaws and I look forward to observing with interest how Qatar’s leaders overcome them in the years prior to 2022. The clock is ticking and solutions and demonstrable change needs to be seen. Organisers have a chance to promote Qatar for the right reasons and to deliver a memorable tournament to live up to the campaign hashtag, #ExpectAmazing.

National Days: a nation of appreciation

National Days: a nation of appreciation

What day is it today?

Whenever you’re reading this, you can pretty much bet it is a ‘day’. I’m talking about the endless national and international appreciation days, weeks, months even. Whether it’s a day dedicated to pizza, potatoes or puppies, carrots, cats or curry, the list is almost endless (notice the food and animal themes here). Somewhere, someone has stamped a date in the calendar to show their appreciation.

So why do brands make a fuss of these random moments in time?

It’s not always just to jump on the bandwagon. Sometimes brands join in because they know that consumers will enjoy the conversation, especially us Brits. We love a talking point, and if it’s not the weather, why can’t we chat about it being National Puppy Day for a change? This is a recent example, which took place on 23rd March, and saw plenty of us sharing the puppy love. #NationalPuppyDay trended, London’s Biscuiteers promoted dog biscuits alongside Dog’s Trust, ITV’s This Morning hosted cute, four-legged guests on the show and so on. This was a perfect moment for brands to capitalise on a nation of dog lovers.

More profoundly, March saw International Women’s Day. We at Stripe weren’t alone in joining in the conversation, and were amongst heaps of brands and influencers to do so.

Back in February, we witnessed a flurry of engagement around a very different occasion: National Yorkshire Pudding Day. When the much-loved British brand Aunt Bessie’s tasked us with spreading the word about this little-known day and leading the conversation around it, we thought… what about the first ever Yorkshire Pudding Wedding Cake? You batter believe it! Weird, wonderful and highly desirable in the eyes of some.

We can confidently say we owned National Yorkshire Pudding Day and got people talking (or chuckling) thanks to the widespread national and regional coverage that landed across print, broadcast and online.

Unlike National Yorkshire Pudding Day, which didn’t come about from a specific brand, there are also occasions when brands take it upon themselves to create a national day. If done well, this doesn’t feel forced or too brand centric. Inevitably other rivalling brands join the conversation and it then becomes a challenge for the creator of the occasion to lead the chat by celebrating it in the most engaging way. Take McVitie’s with National Biscuit Day. The biscuit maker led conversation on the day in 2014 by revealing that we’ve been eating Chocolate Digestives upside down, and followed this last year with a poll unveiling what your favourite biscuit says about you. Simple but winning recipes for great coverage.

Brands continue to face the challenge of initiating and participating in relevant conversation with consumers. Making a brand’s offering – be it product, service or interest – the topic of conversation through a day of national appreciation shouldn’t be overlooked, even if it may seem a little obvious. For now, these events can really work hard for brands, although that’s not to say consumers won’t tire of this approach altogether in time.

So back to the question, what day is it?

Well the day I write this, it’s National Garlic Day of course (19th April)! I thought I could smell something.