And now, a word about presidential advertising that has nothing to do with political campaigning. For the sales season surrounding Presidents’ Day, businesses invoke the images and words of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington in every imaginable way. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as Presidents’ Day is the combination of two separate February holidays, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on the 12th, and George Washington’s birthday on the 22nd, now joined into a single occasion. (This happened in 1986, to make room on the calendar for the then-new Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.)
So it came as a surprise in the past couple of years when a major automobile manufacturer used the occasion of Presidents’ Day to honor Teddy Roosevelt in an extensive series of television ads. And sports house Cabela’s has done the same. This is where marketing crosses a line — albeit a line which few may notice. Still, one has to wonder, did the marketing folks at these companies make it through high school? Or can we swap out history because it doesn’t matter?
Hey, advertisers, Presidents’ Day doesn’t honor all of them. Just two. Got it?
We don’t, as a nation, celebrate “presidents.” That type of official holiday is usually reserved for dictatorships and communist states.
For the record, Presidents’ Day is set aside to honor two American heroes — George Washington, who founded the nation; and Abraham Lincoln, who saved it from being split asunder. It seems like there’s enough material there for a promotion; kind of a shame to kick these two fellows to the curb in favor of anyone else, even one as colorful as TR.
If you’re a business owner or marketer who wants to employ American holidays to sell your share of goods and services, we salute you — but please do so with a basic respect for the holiday in question. (Thank you.)
P.S. If Teddy Roosevelt is critical to your sales, you might want to know that his birthday is October 27.
Note, not George Washington.