Blue Monday – the PR stunt that got a life of its own

23rd January 2017

By Julie Causton

Is it just me or has Blue Monday (this year Monday, January 16) suddenly become a major event? 

 

It seemed that hundreds of brands took advantage of what is allegedly the saddest day of the year to engage with customers and share the love.  The theme for most campaigns was giveaways and discounts – apparently the best way to cheer us up.  You could get free burgers, followed by a free gym class, followed by free beer and if all that still didn’t bring a smile to your face then you could get away from it all with a £9.99 flight to a happier place.

Like Valentine’s Day or April Fools’ Day, Blue Monday has become a hook for organisations to hang their PR activities on.

But it all started with a bit of a PR stunt in itself. 

Back in 2005 a travel company ran a campaign to stimulate bookings in the quiet period after Christmas. Their strategy was to encourage people to “treat” their January Blues by booking a holiday, the prospect of which would make them feel happier. In order to create interest and credibility, the PR team engaged a doctor of psychology to come up with a scientific rationale for why we feel down at this time of the year. 

The result was an equation to calculate the saddest day of the year using variable factors such as W = weather, D =debt, T = time since Christmas and Q = time since failing New Year resolutions.  The answer came out as the third Monday in January.

This is of course complete pseudoscience but it’s amazing what we will swallow if it comes from a “doctor” at a “university”.  And we can all relate to waking up on a dark, grey Monday with a hangover because we’ve failed at dry January, put on half a stone so have nothing to wear and there’s still two weeks to pay day. 

The psychologist subsequently distanced himself from Blue Monday and although he did initially put his name to the “science”, it could well have been some bright spark in the PR team who invented the whole thing. I bet they never imagined that one day their baby would have a life of its own…

Want to find out how we can boost your brand this year? Give the team a call on 01273 208913 to find out more.

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