On July 31, North Korea tested a ballistic missile. Prisoners in Egypt refused food in protest of inhumane treatment. Residents of Baltimore rebuked the president of the United States for calling their district “a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” Yet for much of the day, the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter was avocados.
People shared recipes and photos, trivia and tales about the fruit. Not because avocados were in the news—not at the center of some controversy or scandal or massacre. It was, simply, National Avocado Day (#NationalAvocadoDay).
This might have struck people in the U.S. as odd, since 80 percent of America’s avocados come from Mexico. But scrutiny for such days tends to be low, evidenced by the now almost daily phenomenon of a trending “national day” blanketing Facebook and Twitter, and even Instagram. As I write this, it’s National Relaxation Day. August also now includes National Dog Day, National Matchmaker Day, and National Sisters Day.
Many of these days are new in the past few years, and a small percentage are recognized by the government. Whimsical as these days seem, the creation and maintenance of national days are a phenomenon with massive financial implications. Many such days are used—or were even specifically invented—to coax people to talk about products and services. This happens on a scale that traditional advertising almost never achieves. Even spending millions on a Super Bowl commercial cannot command so much favorable attention to a product—given freely and enthusiastically by unassuming consumers who blast it into the timelines of everyone they know.