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If you've ever wondered why you're celebrating National Dessert Day on Saturday, you may have National Today to thank.
The team at National Today scours the internet for at least one holiday for every day. The list is sent out as a newsletter to more than 10,000 media outlets. It also has a network of more than 2,500 bloggers and social media influencers who promote the holidays, turning these ludicrous days into real events.
Some come from official sources like the United Nations or the U.S. government — for example, National Ice Cream Day (May 17) is a federal creation. Other times it looks to pop culture, like turning the episodes around Galentine's Day from "Parks and Rec" (Feb. 13) and National Unfriend Day (Nov. 17) from "Jimmy Kimmel Live" into yearly events. It also looks at obscure Twitter and social media trends to round out the calendar.
"We are the ones who made a lot of these holidays (popular)," National Today CEO Ben Kaplan explained. "We'll have an obscure holiday no one knows about. We'll get 100 influencers and 100 TV stations and a million people on social media to celebrate it like it's a huge day."
Some of the weird "real" holidays they've found include National Respect Your Cat Day (March 28), National Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day (Oct. 17) and National Ex-Spouse Day (April 14). There's also International Day of the Nacho (Oct. 21), which shouldn't be confused with National Nachos Day (Nov. 6)
There is a business case as well. National Today is owned by digital agency PR Hacker. Showing it can create buzz around strange days can attract prospective clients for future holidays. It's worked with Budweiser for National Drink Beer Day (Sept. 28), Finlandia Cheese for National Waffle Day (Aug. 24) and Milk-Bone for National Dog Day (Aug. 26) among others. It's a little self-serving, but Kaplan says it's also fun for casual readers.
The company estimates it's made $500,000 to $1 million from promoting these days.
"A lot of our clients — small startups to huge Fortune 500 companies — are using all these holidays to create viral hooks," said Kaplan, who is also CEO of PR Hacker. "It gives consumers a call to action to do something today."