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Holiday Commercialization Goes Yankee-Doodle-Dandy

Posted At: April 9, 2008 12:32 PM
by Erin Cornelius

Fireworks, barbeque and red, white and blue. The Fourth of July is a celebration of the independence of our country, but in Boston, this patriotic party has a modern twist. Boston’s 4th of July celebration now has a sponsor, and I’m not talking about Uncle Sam.

Liberty Mutual, the sixth largest P&C insurance company in the U.S., is the biggest sponsor of the upcoming Fourth of July celebration in Boston. Companies have been sponsoring sporting events and the like for years now, but the sponsorship of an actual holiday celebration is quickly becoming the trend.

So with all of the corporate commercialization of holidays in our day and age, have these special celebrations lost their luster, or has corporate America spiced up these old-fashioned traditions?

Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and even Mother’s Day have snowballed into days where the meaning of the holiday is one of the least important things on the to-do list. More important are the parties, gifts, cards, candies, flowers and shopping mall mascots.

But the Fourth of July is different, right? Well, maybe not anymore, but what does that mean for corporate America? Is this holiday a new way to connect a corporate reputation with one of America’s favorite celebrations?

In short, yes. When you consider the positive connotation that goes along with the Fourth of July, it is easy to see why companies want to be associated with the holiday.

Public relations is all about building a company’s reputation. PR practitioners are always looking for ways to make their organizations more visible to the public, and associating with a holiday is no different than associating with a sporting event or television show. In many ways it is safer for the corporation because it is much more predictable.

The idea of sponsorship in the holiday arena is growing in popularity and makes sense for all involved. By sponsoring a holiday celebration, specifically the Fourth of July, everyone benefits. The company is able to connect its brand with a positive, Americana event, and the public is able to have a bigger, better celebration.

And that is exactly what public relations is about: creating and keeping positive connections with the public.

But critics of holiday commercialization worry that the day loses its purpose when holidays are sponsored and commercialized. The focus becomes corporate and concerned with turning a profit instead of the meaning behind the holiday.

So what’s next for the Fourth of July? Maybe the Mall of America could consider a kid-friendly photo-op with George Washington and the gang. Maybe not, but by acting as responsible stewards, corporations and PR practitioners can ensure that the meaning of the holiday is enhanced by the sponsorship, rather than being upstaged. That way everyone benefits.


July 4th. Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular. Retrieved March 10, 2008 from [].

Photo credit: Eric Baetscher

What do you think about corporate sponsorship of holidays and the commercialization of these celebrations?

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