I’ve been reading about the history of Memorial Day, before it became about blow-out sales and backyard bar-b-ques.
And the words I’ve found take me back to when my mom still called it “Decoration Day.” She’d buy a paper poppy from the man at the VFW to put in the button hole of my coat. Then she’d take me with her to put flowers on the graves of those we love who lay sleeping while we could still stand, reflect, kneel to say, “thank you.”
Memorial Day is about gratitude, reconciliation, and honoring heroes who paid the ultimate price. They gave and we got.
Rebranding Memorial Day
In his series for Fast Company, Steve McCallion says:
So far we’ve explored how Memorial Day lost its meaning, but how can we get it back? How can we remember Memorial Day in a way that is authentic and relevant today? In this era of instant gratification, can we come together as a nation to recognize the sacrifices that have been made for our freedoms?
Click through on the image for his marvelous ideas on how to rebrand to remind us what Memorial Day means.
A Dozen $100,000 Brand Ideas for Celebrating Our Heroes Through Social Media
Social media is about honoring our heroes and connecting people, isn’t it? If anyone knows how to do that we do … big companies, little companies, individuals don’t need to do much to put the celebrating and gratitude back into remembering those who sacrificed for our freedom.
Here are a few ideas …
- Apple might sell a limited yellow version of the iPhone — or simply choose any yellow iPod product — to donate a portion of sales to hire a social media team to help the White House Commission on Remembrance or The Memorial Day Foundation get their message out next year.
- 3M might build a Post-it Note Quote Community by inviting friends and families to publish quotes of their fallen heroes.
My son would always smile and say, “There’s lots of apple pies, but I’ve only got one mother.”
- Berskshire Hathaway might find a volunteer team of social media mavens among their thousands of employees. If that team put out a penny-match challenge, I bet they could pitch a penny campaign that would travel across Twitter and fire through Facebook. Perhaps the collected money go toward health insurance or college scholarships for children of fallen soldiers.
- Johnson & Johnson already has communities of nurses and caregivers. They could send out a call via their site, Twitter, and Facebook. They could connect with nurses and caregivers who have shared the final hours with fallen soldiers. Imagine the wealth of history in those stories. If they partnered with the VFW or the Military Channel, that content could make an incredible interview series.
- Kodak or Polaroid could build a YouTube channel or a flickr collection for customers and employees to retell the stories of fallen soldiers. With the help of Scholastic, they package them as primary source materials with lesson plans for teachers to share with kids studying history. Teachers could upload comments, videos, and new ideas to add to the community.
- Kraft Foods or ConAgra could build the recipe book of heroes. How hard would be to use social media to ask the families of fallen soldiers to share the favorite recipes of loved ones who served our country? Imagine if the Food Channel cooked each recipe and shared the videos on YouTube?
- Hallmark Cards or American Greetings could invite the families of fallen soldiers to share cards they received from our heroes and tell the stories behind the cards. Suppose they tweeted a new free Hero ECard for a year?
- Starbucks or Panera Bread might print the pictures and a simple memorial statement on the cups that hold their coffee and tea. Folks could Tweet and Facebook their nominations.
- Lands End or L.L.Bean could offer a yellow ribbon discount to honor fallen soldiers. Instead of a promo code they might ask for 140 characters in tribute to our heroes. The promo codes could forward to Twitter, FriendFeed, and Facebook.
- Sony Music or Universal might put together a collection of songs for heroes by celebrity artists and donate the proceeds to HireHeroes. The songs could be on blip.fm and tweeted. We could DJ a Friday night hero Twitter party.
- Netflix could partner with the major studios to sponsor a $1 day of movies and documentaries about our heroes. Ambassadors from families could help chose the appropriate titles and be featured as recommending them. MailOurMilitary.com and milblogging.com might help promote a cause like this one. Netflix might challenge corporations and foundations to add matching funds to support grants to families of fallen heroes.
- Southwest Airlines, Marriott, and CNN might partner to offer veterans incredible deals to gather together in D.C. on Memorial Day 2011 to share the stories of fallen heroes.
What would the companies and brands get? They’d get the respect and loyalty of employees and customers who honor our heroes. People remember generosity that connects them to authentic, relevant meaning.
Any nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure. – Abraham Lincoln
Isn’t that also true of our businesses?
I know you probably see a thousand ways to expand on each of these ideas — ways that each could be tweaked or twisted to fit another business. Take ’em and use ’em. I’d love to hear how you might re-invent an idea or what new ideas came to mind while you were reading.
How will you remember our heroes?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
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