Brands Find Virtual Ways to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Home

Festivities include virtual bartending classes, dinners and charity programs

a cholula food truck
Cholula is keeping the holiday spicy. Cholula
Headshot of Ian Zelaya

Key insight:

You might not be able to celebrate Cinco de Mayo at a bar or restaurant this year, but brands are trying to make it easier to have your own social distancing-approved celebrations with new digital campaigns and virtual events. Tequila and food brands are leveraging social media to not only teach consumers how to make their own margaritas or Mexican eats at home, but also to support the restaurant and bar industry, which has been devastated by the pandemic.

Digital events supporting hospitality workers

Patrón is taking the celebration digital this year, opening a Virtual Bar to raise money directly for bartenders as well as charities that support hospitality workers. On May 5, the tequila brand will host a five-hour session on Instagram Live featuring 20 bartenders across the U.S. crafting easy-to-make margaritas at home.

The brand will compensate the bartenders for their participation, and include a number on screen for viewers to donate to nonprofit partners C.O.R.E. (Children of Restaurant Employees), Another Round and the James Beard Foundation. The brand donated $1 million to those nonprofits at the onset of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Patrón worked with agencies M Booth, MullenLowe LA and Razorfish for Virtual Bar.

Adrian Parker, vp of global marketing at Patrón, said the brand landed on the idea of the Virtual Bar as a way to support bartenders and provide a safe and simple way for consumers to celebrate.

“No brand has a pandemic brief sitting in their back pocket. This situation has caused us to rethink how we support our consumers and bartenders, as well as the purpose of a spirits brand right now,” Parker said. “The Virtual Bar gives us an opportunity to support people sheltering at home and connect them to a cultural moment without having to sacrifice safety.”

For fans not in the mood to make their own cocktails, Patrón has also partnered with drink delivery app Drizly to launch a platform called Patrón Cocktails To-Go. The location-based platform, live across 15 states in the U.S., shows nearby bars and restaurants offering to-go cocktails.

Cholula is also leveraging Instagram Live for the hot sauce brand’s first Tacothon on May 5, which raises money for independent restaurants. Running 7-10 p.m., the event will feature celebrities Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi and Indiana Pacers player Victor Oladipo, Tom Colicchio and Sophia Bush, and chef Aaron Sanchez and former Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade co-hosting one-hour sessions where they will share their secret taco recipes.

The brand will pledge $1 for every viewer who tunes in (up to $100,000) to the Independent Restaurant Coalition, which is working to save local restaurants impacted by Covid-19. Cholula is also supporting local eateries and frontline workers with its ongoing Operation Taco Tuesday initiative, which delivers tacos (with Cholula hot sauce, of course) to medical staff at different hospitals each week.

For those who want a more tailored party, Cameo, a platform where celebrities offer personalized video messages, has partnered with Tequila Don Julio to host It’s Cinco Somewhere. The program invites people to donate to the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group providing relief to restaurant employees, for a chance to win a video happy hour co-hosted by a celebrity and bartender of their choice.

“People need joy, humor and connectivity now more than ever. Tequila Don Julio’s It’s Cinco Somewhere campaign nails it, while also raising desperately needed funds for a community that has been hit exceptionally hard,” said Cameo COO Arthur Leopold in a statement. “Being able to support this campaign enables us to contribute to a good cause as well as reward participants with the thrill of connecting with incredible celebrities in exchange for their generosity.”

Fans can enter by donating to the nonprofit via Participants include Houston Rockets player James Harden and Dancing With the Stars’ Erin Andrews and Julianne Hough, along with a select group of bartenders. The participating talent also contributed to a Cinco de Mayo video posted on Tequila Don Julio’s Instagram page, in which they sing the popular Mexican song “Cielito Lindo.”

To date, Tequila Don Julio has committed $200,000 to the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation. Its parent company Diageo also launched a #TipsFromHome social program, which invites followers to tag friends in comments on social posts using the hashtags #TipsFromHome and #DiageoDonation to generate an additional $1 donation per tag (up to $1 million) to other North America-based organizations serving the hospitality industry.

Creative ideas for at-home feasts

Food is just as important as margaritas for at-home Cinco de Mayo celebrations, and brands are encouraging consumers to make or order their meals with digital programs and social contests.

Taco Bell launched an at-home taco bar and online recipe cards for fans to make their own menu items at home. Specifically, the brand released recipes for the Double Decker Taco and the Wild Strawberry Tequila Sunrise, and is inviting fans to post their dishes on social with the hashtag #TacoBellCreations.

Taco Bell released a recipe card for its Double Decker Taco.
Taco Bell

Don't miss the Brandweek Sports Marketing Summit and Upfronts, a live virtual experience Nov. 16-19. Gain insights from leading sports figures on how they navigated a year of upsets and transformation and what's in store for the coming year. Register Ian Zelaya is an Adweek reporter covering how brands engage with consumers in the modern world, ranging from experiential marketing and social media to email marketing and customer experience.