Are Seasonal Holiday Campaigns Worth The Hype?

Looking to launch a holiday marketing campaign this year? Do they get results? Discover the benefits of federal & unique holiday marketing with GroundTruth.

When it comes to finding an occasion to celebrate, few are more equipped than the all-knowing marketer. From capturing the enchantment of National Unicorn Day to bringing families together on Thanksgiving, marketers have a unique ability to turn a quirky or established holiday into an opportunity to engage and attract customers.

While these holiday ad campaigns can be a great way to boost sales, not all are created equal. So, marketers, are these festive campaigns worth the pursuit? Let’s look at some real-world behavioral trends to see if federal and/or niche holiday advertising campaigns are more trick than treat.

Federal Holidays: Do They Drive Business Results?

As celebrated days recognized by the U.S. government, federal holidays are typically associated with increased consumer spending since people have more free time to go out and shop. These holidays can be powerful ways for savvy businesses to increase sales, visibility, brand awareness, engagement, and social impact. However, with countless marketers vying for the attention of their target audience, standing out during these festive occasions can be quite a challenge!

Example #1 – President’s Day Marketing & Auto Dealerships

President’s Day is a time to recognize our nation’s leaders, reflect on our country’s values, and, apparently, purchase a new set of wheels! When it comes to this federal holiday marketing, car dealerships put the pedal to the metal on their ad campaigns. So, does pulling out all the stops work for dealerships?

According GroundTruth data, Foot traffic to auto dealerships began to spike roughly a week before President’s Day (2/21/2022). Even though automotive dealership foot traffic was 76% above average on President’s Day, traffic was actually 95% above average on 2/16, about five days before President’s Day.

Happy shopper targeted by location-based marketing efforts

According GroundTruth data, Foot traffic to auto dealerships began to spike roughly a week before President’s Day (2/21/2022)

One method brands can leverage to help capture consumer attention early is by developing integrated campaigns that drive both online and physical actions. This can increase potential car sales significantly and help diversify revenue channels.

Example #2 – Labor Day Marketing & Retailers

Who says Labor Day is just about BBQs and pool parties? Retailers put in some serious work to bring their favorite customers the hottest deals and steals of the year! So, do these Labor Day campaigns work for retailers?

According to data from our Retail Lean, retailer foot traffic increased by 21% during Labor Day weekend in 2022. Even though there was a noticeable increase in foot traffic, Labor Day had the smallest percentage increase compared to other federal holidays. Memorial Day Weekend (51%), Presidents Day (46%), and July 4th (44%) beat Labor Day in 2022 in terms of foot traffic increase.

Labor Day Marketing & Retailers

According to data from our Retail Lean, retailer foot traffic increased by 21% during Labor Day weekend in 2022.

Consider leveraging behavioral audience targeting to really hone in on the perfect holiday for your campaign. By doing this you connect with your desired customers based on their lifestyle, interests, and brand preferences.

Niche Holidays: Do They Drive Business Results?

For those who don’t know, a niche holiday is a special day that typically targets a specific audience or interest group. Some holidays were declared by government entities (United Nations officially launched Human Rights Day, for example), while others were designed by brands themselves (did you know National Rotisserie Chicken Day was created by Boston Market?).

Sure, it’s tempting to jump on quirky holidays, but hold your horses! While not every holiday is worth celebrating, finding the right holidays that resonate with your target market can be an excellent opportunity to promote your brand and generate sales.

Example #1 – National Popcorn Day & Movie Theaters

Movie theater chains and National Popcorn Day sounds like the perfect match, right? After all, what moviegoers wouldn’t go out of their way to enjoy a discount on the iconic snack? Well, grab the popcorn, marketers!

Based on visitation data, there were no sharp upticks in traffic to movie theaters on National Popcorn Day. However, there were some interesting trends in early January 2023. Foot traffic to movie theaters in the first 20 days in January was highest on 1/7/22, 77% above the average for the timeframe, following the premiere of M3GAN, which topped the box office that weekend. Compared to the two Thursdays prior, foot traffic to movie theaters was actually lower on National Popcorn Day, despite offers for 50% off popcorn.

Example #2 – National Pizza Day & Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs)

Want a slice of the action on National Pizza Day? QSRs often bake up ad campaigns to leverage the niche holiday honoring everyone’s favorite food. Do QSRs enjoy the sweet taste of victory from these pizza-loving campaigns?

Niche holiday ads in action for National Pizza Day

Niche holiday ads in action for National Pizza Day

Based on our data, foot traffic to pizza shops was actually 13% below average on National Pizza Day in 2023. Does this mean National Pizza Day campaigns are going stale? Not quite.

In 2019, IHOP partnered with DoorDash to release the Pancizza, a limited-time pizza-sized pancake. This headline-grabbing campaign gained 779 million impressions and increased online orders by over 35%. Talk about love at first bite!

Just like pizza, a niche holiday campaign can’t be half-baked. Since niche holidays may not be enough to change consumer behaviors, you need to develop a well-thought-out campaign, and pair it with heavy promotional efforts, to grab your slice of the pie.

Looking to create an eye-catching campaign for your QSR? LTOs can be very effective in terms of increasing foot traffic, driving app usage, and boosting sales.

User-Generated Holidays: Do They Drive Business Results?

Unfamiliar with user-generated holidays? These unique days are created and celebrated by individuals or communities rather than being established by governments or organizations. More often than not, these holidays are discovered online and gain popularity through word of mouth or viral content.

Even though these holidays can be very trendy, it’s important not to over-invest in them, as they are relatively new and unproven. So, it’s best to test the waters before fully committing to the newest holiday craze.

Example #1 – Dry January & Alcohol Suppliers

Want to try the dry, marketers? After the craziness of the holiday season, no wonder many people voluntarily stop drinking alcohol for a month. Would this user-generated holiday result in a dry spell for alcohol company sales, or is it the beginning of a beautiful friendship?

Despite this user-generated holiday encouraging people to swear off the sauce, some alcoholic beverage manufacturers (i.e., Samuel Adams and Tito’s Handmade Vodka) developed campaigns to promote dry January.

The results of Dry January surprised us all. There was a 17% increase in beer, wine, and liquor store foot traffic in January compared to December.


Did these campaigns directly result in liquor store foot traffic? Only time will tell. However, organizations that actively promoted moderation and responsibility through their channels did not experience a negative impact on their business. If your brand wants to get on that (band)wagon, CTV spots can leverage most of the same targeting parameters as a mobile or display campaign.

For the most part, federal and niche holiday ad campaigns can positively impact your business. That being said, the success of any holiday marketing campaign depends on many factors, like crafting the right messaging, outmaneuvering your competitors, and, above all, utilizing accurate and relevant data! So, marketers, whether you’re hoisting the sails on International Talk like a Pirate Day or jamming out on Get Out Your Guitar Day, make sure you have the right information before diving into a holiday campaign!

If you’re looking to set your next marketing campaign apart, get the real-world behavioral insights you need by contacting us today!