Like St. Patrick’s Day, the general American public often forgets the origins of Cinco de Mayo, which is a celebration of the Mexican Army’s unlikely win over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. In the U.S., Cinco de Mayo has become a celebration of Mexican-American culture, while in Mexico it’s more of a ceremonial holiday recognizing the battle.

For brands, it’s important to be mindful of the cultural sensitivities that might be in play when creating promotions or social media content tied to holidays. The last thing you want to do is miss the mark and come across as insensitive or just plain oblivious.

Witness this example of what NOT to do when tying a promotion to a holiday or anniversary, brought to you by a mattress store that thought it would be a good idea to “bring down” prices to commemorate the anniversary of 9-11. Yes, this really happened.

Got an idea for a holiday themed promotion, media pitch or social media campaign? Before you get started, keep these five tips in mind:

1. Plan Ahead: Keep track of holidays that might have a natural connection to your brand. Work with your creative team or agency to identify – well in advance – dates on the calendar that make sense and go from there.  

2. Be Appropriate: Holiday marketing should be authentic. Think about your brand and if it makes sense to join the Cinco de Mayo conversation. Don’t force a post if it isn’t the right fit. It’s important to be respectful of Mexico’s heritage.  Here’s an example where Staples missed the mark.

3. Educate Consumers: Use this opportunity to teach your consumers about the holiday in a way that’s fun and engaging. Sauza Tequila took this approach in 2015 with its #SauzaTruths video series.

4. Be Creative: Cinco de Mayo IS a holiday after all. Think of creative ways your brand can celebrate appropriately. It’s okay to be lighthearted, as long as you’re consistent with your brand voice. Check out Chobani’s yummy guacamole made with their yogurt. I mean come on, who doesn’t love bacon on top of their guac.  

5. Don’t Just Set it and Forget it: Think of ways you can engage with your audiences after posting your content. Amplify your message by sharing on different mediums.
Cinco de Mayo is a fun celebration and brands have an opportunity to create playful content and reach targeted audiences.

 If you’re thinking of creating a holiday communications plan keep these tips in mind or drop me an email to


Written by Kara Joyce – Maryland girl and Gamecock alumna. SoulCycle evangelist, Washington Redskins superfan and always down to try the newest restaurant!