Cinco de Mayo is a day of celebration recognised worldwide. Not only does it represent a significant victory for Mexico, but it’s become a highly lucrative marketing opportunity for businesses big and small.
WHAT IS CINCO DE MAYO?
Celebrated on the 5th of May, Cinco de Mayo marks the day Mexican forces repelled the French army back in 1862. The day is significant for many reasons, not least of all because the 4,800-strong Mexican force was outnumbered and outgunned.
Despite the overwhelming odds, the city of Puebla de Los Angeles successfully defended itself, and a momentous cultural event was born. However, what was originally a minor holiday in Mexico, mainly celebrated by people local to Puebla, has become a global phenomenon.
Before we take a look at how celebrations have evolved to become an international symbol of Mexican culture, it’s time to explore the extraordinary events that led to that fateful battle.
THE HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE BEHIND CINCO DE MAYO
The 1860s were a particularly challenging time for Mexico. After years of internal conflict (the Reform War), the nation was on the verge of financial ruin. In 1861, the country was forced to default on its international payments to prevent bankrupting the treasury.
While Britain and Spain managed to negotiate new terms, France, ruled at the time by Napoleon III, was less willing to cooperate. He set sail with his armies, invading Mexico and using their financial instability as an opportunity to spread French influence across Latin America.
Napoleon didn’t, however, count on the resistance at Mexican forts Loreto and Guadalupe. Positioned close to Puebla, these two forts would become the last bastion against a French force of over 8,000.
Under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza, and with half the numbers of the French, the Mexican resistance successfully defended their position, defeating the invading army.
There would be several more battles before the conflict between Mexico and France came to an end. But, despite victories and losses on both sides, it was the battle near Puebla that became a symbol of Mexican courage and resilience.
HOW HAVE CINCO DE MAYO CELEBRATIONS EVOLVED?
Although the battle was a pivotal moment for Mexico, Cinco de Mayo celebrations are not as widespread throughout the country as you might think. Puebla is, of course, the epicentre of festivities with parades, reenactments, and an abundance of market stalls. The rest of the country, however, takes a more sombre approach.
It’s actually foreign nations that show the most interest in Cinco de Mayo. The 5th of May has become a global opportunity to celebrate Mexican culture in general, as opposed to just the pivotal battle in Puebla.
Americans are by far the largest patrons of Cinco de Mayo. Originally, it was beer companies that started to push promotions back in the 1980s. Today, it’s common to see events in virtually all states, with a broad spectrum of commercial businesses capitalising on the occasion.
Mexican products, services, food and drink, and music are in focus, with extensive marketing campaigns in the lead-up to May. And, with Americans spending millions of dollars on beer and tequila for Cinco de Mayo, celebrations have become incredibly lucrative.
Rest of the world
Similar celebrations to the US take place in Canada, Jamaica, Australia, the UK, and Tokyo. Festivities vary according to the nation, but most focus on parades, festivals, and Mexican food and drink.
3 MARKETING TIPS FOR CELEBRATING CINCO DE MAYO
Cinco de Mayo is a globally recognised event, and with the right approach, it’s easy for businesses big and small to capitalise. Below, you’ll find three examples of how you can monetise Cinco de Mayo while staying in touch with the day’s cultural significance.
1. FOCUS ON THE NUMBER 5
Cinco de Mayo is Spanish for the 5th of May, and while it may sound simple, marketing focused on the number 5 is a quick win. This can include offers such as buy 4 get the 5th free, 5% off, £5 coupons, five days of discounts—the list goes on. You can also introduce holiday-specific discount codes to drive the message home.
Just remember to not only tailor the offer to your business or service, but to publicise the details in the days and weeks leading up to the 5th of May.
2. OPTIMISE CONTENT FOR SPANISH-SPEAKING CUSTOMERS
If you’re an e-commerce business, you shouldn’t overlook the value of authentic, high-quality translation. Make sure Spanish-speaking translators and editors review your content, and if you want to go the extra mile, transcreation is another essential consideration.
Not only will effective translation and transcreation supercharge your content, but it will show your brand’s genuine consideration for the cultural significance of Cinco de Mayo. The same goes for any social media content. All too often, companies trying to save money will bypass these vital steps—to their detriment. Don’t make the same mistake!
3. SHARE CINCO DE MAYO ACTIVITIES VIA SOCIAL MEDIA
In uncertain times, you’ll need to take a different approach to customer engagement. Instead of asking customers to share pictures of parades or Cinco de Mayo themed parties, think of activities families, couples, and single professionals can do at home.
Try Mexican-themed movie nights (with appropriate snacks) or encourage people to decorate their homes in festive colours. You can then ask them to share their creations via social media using a themed hashtag.
Try the tips outlined above and help spread the history, resilience, and vibrant nature of Mexican culture. With the right strategy, it’s easier than you might think!