The Participation Trophy Holiday
Celebrating everyone is no celebration at all
Presidents’ Day in the U.S. is a weird holiday. It’s supposed to be an official federal holiday, but some businesses were open, some were closed.
It used to be that we celebrated Lincoln’s birthday on February 12th and Washington’s birthday on the 22nd. It grew out of simply celebrating the birthday of our first president.
But now it’s supposed to honor all of the presidents.
This is akin to businesses that constantly advertise their items as “on sale” or urgently announce that they’re having a “Going Out of Business Sale.” I’m looking at you, Persian rug stores.
Or when a company like Payless liquidates all 2,100 of their stores. Their only differentiator was that they sold cheap shoes. Well, there’s always going to be someone who can undercut you on price. And when you’re celebrating your low prices every day, a 40% off sale isn’t really that newsworthy.
Or, to put it in another context: it’s the participation trophy—when every kid on the team gets a trophy just for playing rather than for achieving something.
How can you celebrate specific and unique things if you’re always celebrating?
If we apply this principle to content marketing, the advice would be to scale back on the sheer volume of content and instead focus on putting out fewer, more memorable or emotionally-driven pieces.
That’s the crux of the issue with Presidents’ Day. We’re losing the reason we honored Washington (and Lincoln) in the first place. It just seems so generic now.
Pardon me if I don’t break out the cupcakes for James K. Polk or Millard Fillmore.
Thanks, and I’ll see you on the internet.