Bastille Day, or Fête Nationale, marks a pivotal point in French history—the Storming of the Bastille prison fortress. On 14th July 1789, the takeover marked an end to authoritarian rule in France, prompting decades of annual celebrations with food, wine, military parades, and fireworks.
As a business owner, Bastille Day is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate French culture and its themes. However, to make the most of Bastille Day marketing, we first need to take a closer look at the event’s history.
WHAT IS BASTILLE DAY?
Bastille Day celebrations stem from a hugely significant cultural event—the Storming of the Bastille. A monument to monarchical rule in 17th-century France, the Bastille was a prison built by King Louis XVI. But after years of oppression, a group of French citizens stormed the prison, setting free the prisoners and sparking the beginning of the French Revolution.
While the storming and eventual demolishing of the Bastille are the most notable moments, they aren’t the key themes of Bastille Day. Instead, Bastille Day is about camaraderie, brotherhood, and the unity of the French people during that time. In fact, it’s common to hear the phrase “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” (“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”) throughout Bastille Day celebrations.
WHERE IS BASTILLE DAY CELEBRATED?
France is the primary celebrator of Bastille Day, with the largest events culminating in Paris around the Eiffel Tower and the Champs-Élysées. However, France isn’t the only nation known for taking part in Bastille Day celebrations. Countries that also celebrate the event with parades, street festivals, and live entertainment include:
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- United States
Actually, the US is one of the largest celebrators of Bastille Day outside of France. Baltimore, Maryland; Dallas, Texas; Miami, Florida—all of these places (and more) organise elaborate parades, food markets, live music, and much more in honour of the day’s patriotic themes. In short, Bastille Day is a global event.
HOW BASTILLE DAY IS CELEBRATED IN FRANCE
Knowing how to celebrate Bastille Day is crucial when deciding how your business ties into the event’s key themes. The most anticipated event is the French military parade, a tradition that’s become synonymous with Bastille Day since 1880. In pre-COVID times, scores of people would line the streets to watch the parade, with the troops marching down the Champs-Élysées.
While a military parade may be a little difficult for your business to replicate, the remainder of the day’s activities isn’t. As previously mentioned, food, wine, fireworks, and, generally speaking, any activity that brings people together—these are how people worldwide celebrate Bastille Day.
Bastille Day, or Fête Nationale, marks a pivotal point in French history—the Storming of the Bastille prison fortress.
5 MARKETING TIPS FOR BASTILLE DAY CELEBRATIONS
With a good understanding of the history behind Bastille Day, its global appeal, and the types of events taking place, it’s time to apply all that knowledge to your business. Don’t worry, though, if you’re still not sure where to start. Below you’ll find five simple ways your business or website can celebrate Bastille Day.
1. LEARN COMMON PHRASES
While this approach is helpful for all businesses, it’s imperative for companies operating outside of France. There’s nothing worse than trying to market an important cultural event only to get common phrases totally wrong. Not only does it show a lack of sincerity, but it can do more harm than good!
With that in mind, here are four common phrases that’ll prove invaluable for Bastille Day marketing. These core messages should be front and centre of any advertising or social media posts:
- Joyeux 14 juillet! — Happy July 14th
- La Prise de la Bastille — The Storming of Bastille
- Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité — Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
- Vive la France! — Long live France
How you incorporate these terms into your marketing strategy is up to you—just don’t forget to include the appropriate accent marks!
2. ENCOURAGE COVID-FRIENDLY GATHERINGS
Bastille Day is all about freedom, unity, and brotherhood, so what better way to celebrate the event than with (COVID-approved) friend and family-oriented gatherings? If your business can’t host an event, look for parades, food markets, or live events you can sponsor.
Supporting these events in exchange for marketing or advertising space is a fantastic opportunity for virtually every business. Not only is it an excellent way to get involved with the event, but it shows an appreciation for your community and your French customers—win-win.
3. SHARE INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE DAY
Although many people understand the basics of Bastille Day, it can pay dividends to share niche or lesser-known facts about the day. For example:
- Bastille Day is a celebration of two events, not just one. The first is the Storming of Bastille on 14th July 1789, but the second is the Fête de la Fédération (Festival of the Federation), which took place on the same day a year later.
- The Tricolour was a symbol of the French Revolution, exemplified in the painting “Liberty Leading the People” by Eugene Delacroix. Created thirty years into the revolution, it symbolises the very spirit of Bastille Day.
- Finally, let’s not forget that the Statue of Liberty herself was a gift from France to the United States, and part of why many Americans celebrate Bastille Day.
However you choose to show your understanding of Bastille Day, take the time to research the event thoroughly, and see how you can share interesting facts via your website or social media. Don’t forget any relevant hashtags either—they can dramatically improve your reach on socials:
4. TEAM UP WITH LOCAL BUSINESSES
Here’s where you take the unity and camaraderie of Bastille Day one step further—by teaming up with local businesses or competitors. What better way to mark the day than working alongside other high-street retailers to support local events?
If you’re an e-commerce business, reach out to a competitor via social media and show your customers you understand the true values of Bastille Day. Who knows, you may end up forming an allegiance that helps your business grow in new and exciting ways!
5. KEEP IT SIMPLE
This marketing tip applies to all cultural events but is especially pertinent for Bastille Day given the many themes and celebrations.
To make your business stand out on Bastille Day, stick to simple messages focusing on the day’s main themes. A straightforward approach, combined with a splash of blue, white, red, and grey (or just blue if you have to choose) will make sure your advertising and social media marketing stand out!
Bastille Day is hugely important to the French people, both in France and in various nations around the world. It represents the ongoing fight against oppression and celebrates themes that resonate no matter your cultural background. With our simple marketing guide, you can not only enjoy the event but spread its critical themes to your customers and beyond.