It’s Thanksgiving, and that means tradition for Complete PR. And what is our favorite tradition? A blog to give you some trivia to avoid getting in a fight at the dinner table this year arguing over politics. We know you need it. Without further ado, here are four ways that public relations shaped the way we view Thanksgiving.
- NFL football: Thanksgiving used to be a day to watch high school and college football. However, forcing kids to play a game when then could be with their families on a holiday phased out over time, but the NFL has prospered. Why? Well, it starts with a public relations stunt. The Detroit Lions were a new team in the NFL in 1934 and not getting a lot of press from the local media. To gin up some exposure (to steal a phrase from the era), the Lions owner, George A. Richards, decided to host a game on Thanksgiving against the Chicago Bears. The game sold out its 26,000 tickets two weeks before Thanksgiving, and more importantly, the Lions got tons of ink. A tradition was born. Side note, one of this year’s three NFL games features the Bears at the Lions.
- The Macy’s Parade: This was an easy (but expensive) way to get people wanting to shop at Macy’s. It was word of mouth before word of mouth was cool. Sorry, to burst your balloon.
- That Turkey: Our vegan and vegetarian friends can use this one. The first Thanksgiving likely didn’t feature any turkey at the table, but the famed gobblers were appearing on menus by at least the late 1700s, at least according to Alexander Hamilton (sing it with me, Alex-ander Hamil-ton) who wrote “ no citizen of the U.S. shall refrain from turkey.” While that didn’t make the musical, when Americans really started to celebrate Thanksgiving in the mid-1800s, it was sort of a thing so everyone rolled with it. Of course, a PR push to remind folks turkeys were retro cool, helped.
- The turkey pardon: Since 1947, every sitting US president has pardoned a turkey from death? Why? It’s a nice PR stunt. Seriously, what else could it be? Actually, the 1947 isn’t true and it started with a PR push: “White House mythmakers have claimed that President Harry S. Truman began the tradition of “pardoning” a turkey. However, the Truman Library & Museum disputes the notion that he was the first to do so. The focus on Truman stems from his being the first president to receive a turkey from the Poultry and Egg National Board and the National Turkey Federation. From September to November 1947, announcements of the government encouraging “poultryless Thursdays” grabbed national headlines. Outrage from homemakers, restaurant owners, and the poultry industry was palpable in Washington. This came to a head when the poultry industry pointed out that the upcoming Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day, the three big turkey holidays, happened to fall on Thursday.. The effort was deflated in time for Thanksgiving, but not before poultry growers had sent crates of live chickens— “Hens for Harry”— to the White House in protest.”
Anyway, hope we helped you stave off political talk until after the pumpkin pie has settled.