Birthday Branding

When a company or organization uses a birthday as a way to emotionally appeal to consumers, you can imagine I’m easily sucked in.

Recently I saw a commercial online that truly embraces the birthday spirit. I enjoyed the video, but watching the behind the scenes video really enhanced my experience. So I decided that, even though I don’t know where this company is providing energy to the masses, I would highlight it’s super-sweet birthday celebrations commercial:

What I hadn’t realized the first time I watched was that they had 100 distinct cakes for each of the people feted in this video. Fun! And I love that they celebrated a dog’s birthday too!

Birthday dog

Photo credit: / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

On the accompanying video, they collect insights into what a birthday means from people from the commercial production. A director says, “birthdays really tell you about where you are in your life, where you’ve been and where you’re going.” While others talk about the joy of wishing on the cake candles, appreciating the birthday milestone, and the fun of bringing family and friends together to celebrate you.

It’s the heartfelt enthusiasm throughout that makes me smile — in the commercial and its accompanying behind the scenes. So, while I can be suspicious of businesses that try to sucker us into spending $ with an appeal to birthday bliss, this one I had to share. It’s a dose of birthday sugar without calories to feel guilty about!


Birthdays are for sharing the love

A loyal reader recently asked me to weigh in on an article she’d seen about refusing to have a birthday for a one-year-old. Surprisingly, I actually agree with many of the points Jennifer Canavan makes on (paraphrased with some of my own editorializing below):

  • The baby is not old enough to remember
  • Pinterest has made party hosting a nightmare for the not-so-crafty Mom
  • It’s exhausting to host a party and do thank you’s when you feel lucky enough to shower.

This reminded me of my son’s Charlie Brown first birthday party. It was only a play date, really, but I was disappointed when no one was actually able to join us (illness and hospital visits intervened). So, I took the monkey cupcakes I’d made to daycare the next day and felt better about him celebrating with his buddies there.

Certainly, if a parent doesn’t have the time, energy, or money to fete a first year birthday, they shouldn’t feel guilty. The main thing is that a birthday is a day to celebrate our loved ones and share that love. So, party or not, as long as the birthdayee (yep, that’s a new word for you to use #tweetit) feels the love — again, at any age — the party is just icing on the cake. Or, borrowing another suggestion from the same loyal, lovely reader, extra yum of another sweet treat for those (weird) kids who don’t like cake.

Birthday alone

Photo credit: / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Child’s Birthday a Big Deal?

I was so excited for my son’s first party. We invited his play group baby friends to Monkey Joe’s. I made Monkey faced cupcakes. I bought baby friendly monkey-themed gift bags. But, on the day of the party, every one of his guests was sick or had a sick parent.

Yes, my baby’s first birthday was a Charlie Brown party.

Fortunately, he was too young to know the difference. Plus, he still liked the cupcakes!


Since then, I’ve invited more people to his parties to be sure that someone comes to celebrate with him. But, even at my craziest height of birthday party planning, I’ve never gone as far as Caligula.

According to Lewis (1976) in her informative book on Birthdays, Caligula marked the first birthday of his daughter Drusilla with two days of festivities. (Maybe he was making up for naming her Drusilla?). The celebrations included horse racing and, of course, the ritual slaughter of 300 bears and 500 Libyan beasts in an amphitheater.

So, whenever someone says you’re making too big a deal of a child’s birthday, remember Caligula. Unless you’ve got some ritual slaughter planned (and I don’t mean BBQ) you’re doing OK — comparatively.