In this wired age of 24/7 connectivity, every moment seems to have the potential of becoming a pop culture event teetering on the brink of some media extravaganza. So I’m wondering why someone hasn’t yet taken advantage of the marketing possibilities of Groundhog Day. Far from being a trivial event, Groundhog day is celebrated throughout Canada and the U.S. This Pennsylvania German custom goes back to the 18th century and can trace its roots to the ancient Celtic calendar. And every February 2, every mass media outlet spends at least a few moments reporting on the event. Am I the only one who can see what a no-brainer this is?
Multi-billion dollar corporations spend millions of dollars just to get their name tacked onto sports stadiums. Beer companies sponsor concert tours. And the Indy 500 has everything from cars to pit crews spangled from top to bottom in a collage of commercial logos. Even the Miss Universe beauty contest was sponsored by the American corporate conglomerate Gulf+Western until Donald Trump purchased the rights in 1996. Everybody’s doing it. So why not with Groundhog Day?
The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where crowds as large as 40,000 have attended the annual event since at least 1886. But the city only promotes sponsorships to cover the expense of putting on the event. It’s a meager operation by just about any commercial standard. Sponsorship rates start as low as $100 and max out with their Platinum Sponsor Package costing $1,500. That’s a long way from the big time.
There’s got to be some marketing savvy businessman lurking somewhere within the Punxsutawney Chamber of Commerce who understands how to turn a folksy attraction into a major league exhibition. The business model already exists with countless examples of lucrative results. Maybe all that Groundhog day needs is a new title that reflects today’s audience expectations towards contemporary entertainment events. Something like the World Rodent Winter Prognostication Blowout Festival. Hey, it’s a start.