At ECHO Storytelling Agency, we spend each day helping companies find meaning in their journey for themselves and their customers. But a company anniversary, especially a major one, provides a unique opportunity for self-definition.
Often, this is accomplished with an anniversary marketing campaign.
For inspiration, here are four organizations that we feel nailed an anniversary campaign, each accomplishing different goals.
Hudson’s Bay – Celebrating History
Though HBC owns numerous retailers like Home Outfitters, Lord & Taylor, and Saks Fifth Avenue, most Canadians know it for Husdon’s Bay. But fewer may know that HBC’s official history predates Canada’s own by nearly two centuries. So HBC is currently deploying a multi-year 350th-anniversary celebration campaign to show how different life was in their early days (*Hint: it was a lot tougher).
The campaign’s slogan, The Country of Adventurers, further suggests how events in HBC’s history reflect the broader Canadian identity. The campaign includes a commercial (above) featuring 19th-century arctic explorers alongside 21st-century Canadian outdoorsman, Les Stroud.
Celebrating your company’s history in an anniversary campaign reminds customers of your staying power and implies a canny ability to adapt. But obviously, it works best for companies with long histories.
charity: water – Reinforcing Values
Founded in 2006 by a former club promoter, charity: water has since changed 6.4 million lives by funding 20 thousand locally-led water projects in 24 countries. With help from separate donors to cover overhead, 100% of their charity funds support these efforts. They also love birthdays and anniversaries!
On their 5th anniversary in 2011, they thanked hundreds of individual contributors with personalized videos. On their 10th in 2016, they launched a new subscription-based approach called The Spring with the ultimate goal of providing clean water to the entire world. And all along, their supporters have used their own birthdays to help raise funds.
To celebrate 10 years, and look to the next 10, we’re building a new giving community called “The Spring” Join us! https://t.co/rJ4IAo3uTV
— Scott Harrison (@scottharrison) August 30, 2016
Charity: water shows us how anniversaries can remind customers, donors, or clients of who you are, what you do, and why it’s important. It works extraordinarily well for charities, but also for any company willing to inspire and amaze.
Starbucks – Refreshing A Brand
From famously humble beginnings in 1971, Starbucks Coffee grew to become the world’s largest coffee chain. The company is highly influential and beloved by fans. So there was some concern when they used their 40th anniversary to update their logo. At the time, CEO Howard Shultz also alluded to upcoming “innovations and new channels of distribution.”
Today, the 2011 logo likely looks bolder and cleaner to you than the 1992 edition it replaced. But back then, certain groups were pretty darn upset. Starbucks eventually resorted to subtly defending the change on their own blog.
Starbucks’ 40th-anniversary refresh and the fierce, if temporary backlash that followed show how company anniversaries provide opportunities to move forward instead of looking back. It also teaches us to be unafraid of resistance when we believe strongly in the need for change.
Heinz – Getting Social
Our final anniversary campaign was conceived and implemented in Sweeden to help Heinz celebrate their 140th anniversary. In addition to celebrating this history, the secondary goal was to prompt sauce and preserves fans to engage with and promote the company using what was then a fairly new technology – social media.
Specifically, it was a web application and microsite that translated roughly to Say It In The Original Language. It converted modern Swedish text into visualizations of hand-written Sweedish as it would have appeared in 1869. Evidently, much had changed during that span. Users could then print, email, blog, or share the result on Facebook.
This example shows how an anniversary campaign can help you achieve social media goals, as well as celebrate longevity. The example shows that it’s OK–and beneficial–to take advantage of the rarity of an anniversary: a time when your audience may be willing to engage with you, as you experience a shared nostalgia.
At ECHO, we love company anniversary marketing. With so many options, the right approach depends on what you sell, your company’s past and future goals, and the values you hope to project. Whether it’s a custom-published book, an experiential campaign or contest, or a digital publishing effort, we’ll help you plan and execute yours. We welcome you to contact ECHO today.