Sales & Marketing

The five best Blue Monday marketing campaigns created by big brands

10 min read

19 January 2016

Former deputy editor

Monday 18 January was no ordinary start to the week – indeed, the day was dubbed Blue Monday, “the most depressing day of the year”, which a handful of brands capitalised on with marketing campaigns designed to spread cheer among despondent consumers.

The lack of happiness in Brits is seemingly the acknowledgement that Christmas is well and truly over for another year, thus the merrymaking and excessive eating has ended in exchange for returning to work.

The University of Exeter found that low productivity on Blue Monday could cost the economy £93bn, while a University of Oxford sleep expert said that feelings of depression can be directly linked to poor sleep.

Various brands took heed of Blue Monday’s sinister arrival, some just because it was topical and they sought a laugh, while others were out to put a genuine smile on people’s faces – effectively generating loyalty and consumer spend.

(1) Pret A Manger

With smiles in mind, Pret literally wanted to “Make Someone Smile” – that’s the name of its Blue Monday campaign – by offering 120,000 free hot drinks.

In April last year, news of the sandwich chain’s “alternative loyalty programe” surfaced. It came to light that the company encourages employees to hand out a free hot drink to customers as they see fit.

At the time, Clive Schlee, Pret CEO, said: “The staff have to give away a certain number of hot drinks and food every week. They will decide ‘I like the person on the bicycle’ or ‘I like the guy in that tie’ or ‘I fancy that girl or that boy’. It means 28 per cent of people have had something free. It’s a nice, different way of doing it.”

The “Make Someone Smile” initiative builds on that as baristas can add special sleeves to takeaway coffee cups at random – from there, the recipient is expected to pass the sleeve onto somebody else so that they can redeem a free tea or coffee.

120,000 sleeves were produced and Pret wants people to share the “spread joy even further” by considering handing the sleeves out to total strangers, in addition to the obvious choice of friends and colleagues.

London-based psychologist, Dr George Fieldman, said: “Altruism – or the act of doing something for somebody else at a cost to yourself – has a fascinating effect on us. It can help us feel better about ourselves, and a simple act of kindness can create authentic feelings of joy; not just for the person on the receiving end, but also for the person doing the giving.”

The sleeves can be used until the end of February.

(2) Tesco

Led by CEO Dave Lewis, Tesco is eager to repair the financial damages it has experienced to shake off its tarnished reputation – you may recall the £6.4bn loss revealed in April 2015, as well as various job cuts and store closures.

The corporate redemption plan has included selling off divisions of the company and improving supply chain relationships.

Meanwhile, consumers were given a festive treat in December as selected supermarkets introduced “Hangover Help” stations, which provided free smoothies and recipes to revive weary party animals.

So for Blue Monday, Tesco introduced “Blueberry Monday”. The healthy option was chosen amid ongoing talks of the UK’s obesity crisis, and geared towards supporting those who want to clean up their diets following indulgence over Christmas.

Between 3.30pm and 5.30pm on the day, customers were able to get their hands on free kiwis, apples, clementines and blueberries from stores across the country.

“We know lots of our customers will be making healthy little changes to their lifestyle during January and we wanted to do everything we can to help out. We know today is the day people are most likely to be feeling the January blues, and we hope a free piece of fruit will help our customers feel a little bit happier as they shop with us,” said Josh Hardie, corporate responsibility director at Tesco.

A pop-up Blueberry Smoothie Station was also launched at the firm’s store on London’s Tooley Street, which opened at 7am to provide free fruity beverages.

Continue reading on the next page to find out the three other brands that played a part in consumer happiness taking off with treats including holidays, gigs and £1,000 – the latter of which is up for grabs until 22 January…

Image source

(3) easyJet

easyJet, the airline easily recognised by its garish branding, decided to use its colour scheme to brighten the day up with “Orange Monday”.

The social media competition challenged users to share their “most orange photo” with easyJet on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook using #OrangeMonday for the chance to win a free pair of return flights to a European destination of their choice.

The very brief window of opportunity was open for submissions between just 12pm-1:59pm and it saw Kirsty London, a “blogger who loves cats, food, makeup & LOL inducing GIFs”, named the winner for her sunset snap of Sorrento.

4) O2 Music

O2 embraced the rich blue of its logo by pushing out a Blue Monday campaign to give out free gig tickets, courtesy of O2 Music.

“There are nineteen O2 Academy venues from Southampton to Glasgow and every hour from 1pm on 18 January, we’re going to give away pairs of tickets to them. So wherever you are in the UK, you’ll have a chance to laugh in the face of Blue Monday,” said the company.

Keeping it topical, entrants were tasked with tweeting a song with “blue” in the title, and three winners were selected every hour up until 6pm.

At least that was what was supposed to happen – the company decided to keep the competition open until midnight for the last round instead, at which time it selected five winners.

(5) Compare the Market

Compare the Market planted the seed the day before Blue Monday, tweeting: “For many, tomorrow is reportedly the most depressing day of the year – but not for one of our lucky followers. Find out why tomorrow at 9am!”

Spending money on things like insurance is always rather unpleasant. Recognising that, Compare the Market’s Blue Monday campaign offered the chance to put money into one lucky customer’s pocket instead.

The competition is open until 22 January and the price comparison site is offering the chance to £1,000 to those who share the amount they could save by switching suppliers through Compare the Market on Twitter.