Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of the victory of the Mexican people over the French army in the La Batalla de Puebla on May 5th, at Puebla, Mexico.
(Puebla is 100 miles east of Mexico City). It should not be confused with Mexico’s Independence Day.
The reason why Cinco de Mayo became such a national celebration in the US is a nice lesson in marketing.
It started in 1966, when Coors Brewing Co. was facing a crisis. Chicano activists began protesting against the employment discrimination against Latinos working at Coors breweries and called for a boycott of Coors beer. Not exactly the corporate image you want for your company.
Coors did some brilliant crisis marketing – they started sponsoring Cinco de Mayo. It served multiple purposes: it kept them on the good side of their ethnic workforce; they kept their Latino customer base, and they bumped up their May beer sales to college students.
That’s the reason why Cinco de Mayo celebrations mainly take place across the U.S. and only locally in Mexico. The US-based Hispanic advertising community uses it as great promotional opportunity for their clients – promoting a wide range of products, including alcohol. Since Cinco de Mayo has been warmly embraced by the US population as a whole, there are now marketing campaigns galore.
A small selection:
1) The Food Network tells its consumers how to get ready for Cinco de Mayo – with a Rachel Ray fajita pan and a corn zipper
2) The Fine Living Network sends their customers 10 margarita recipes
3) Maxim magazine invites its readers to pick their favorite Mexican hottie
This year, Cinco de Mayo marketing activities got a setback. Many Cinco de Mayo festivals got canceled across the U.S. because of swine flu. Unfortunately, anti-Mexican sentiment also reared its ugly head in some places.
Similar to St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo has become a marketing tool for many companies – especially alcohol companies.
Rest me to wish you all a fun Cinco de Mayo, but please be responsible - don’t drink and drive!
(illustration by courtesy of TMN).