Marketing for religious and cultural events can sometimes be very tricky. Businesses have to be sure to stay on the right side of a very fine line which can make it hard in preparing for the holiday season. Many religious holidays specifically have been commercialized making marketing very easy for businesses. Two major examples include Christmas and Easter. Guys like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are not found anywhere in the Bible. There are definitely cultural stories dating back centuries that these fictional characters were derived from but the holidays as we know them today are rarely associated with religion any more, especially when it comes to holiday marketing.
One example though, defies this fine line and allows businesses to market directly to a large religious sacrifice: lent. Sure, plenty of non-religious based consumers are able to reap the benefits as well but in general, this time of the year is major fish marketing season. Consumers can count on it. Every restaurant from fast food to cafés to sit down eateries have fish specials. Why do businesses promote fish now rather than say September? Demand of course. The target is there just waiting.
Just to clarify, lent is the forty days preceding Easter Sunday. The Christian Church dedicates this time as fasting season. Different religions interpret the fast differently but one thing remains the same, fish replaces other meat sources. Catholics fast on Ash Wednesday (the first day of lent) and on Fridays. Orthodox patrons take the fasting to a higher sacrifice and refrain from eating meat the entire 40 days. So what better time to offer deals on fish meals than a chunk of the year when people all over the world want well, fish!
I already made the claim that Super Bowl Sunday was target marketing at its finest so it would not be fair for me to say that again but it is definitely safe to say that marketing fish fries is a very close second. These things are the exact definition of target marketing.
McDonald’s is a prime example of a business really playing up to this season. The company offers its classic Filet-O-Fish day in and day out. It is even featured on the value menu in some areas. Consumers rarely see an advertisement for the fish sandwich though. McDonald’s commercials are on daily, nearly every channel. They feature people of all kinds enjoying lots of things the restaurant is famous for: Big Macs, Happy Meals and Chicken McNuggets to name a few. But March of every year, the commercials take on a new tone: fish. There is a commercial that sticks in my mind where one of those talking bass fish wall hangings sings a catchy tune: “Give me back that Filet-O-Fish, give me that fish…” It’s stuck in your head now, isn’t it? You know exactly the commercial I’m talking about. The ad was first featured during Easter of 2009. Its popularity was astounding and now four years later the company is still using it (and other versions and updates). Talk about a marketing triumph. Oh and by the way, McDonald’s took it a step further this year by bringing out Fish McBites.
No matter what your religious preferences are, I think it is safe to say that you notice the fish trend each year. If you don’t tend to enjoy seafood there is a good chance you are annoyed by it but you still notice. If you participate in fasting, you look forward to these options. Getting a good deal in combination with following the rules so to speak of your religion, now that’s a win-win.
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.