I’ve waited all year for today. Yes, you read that right—all year. What is today? Well, for normal people, today is just a Friday like any other, but for me and other math geeks around the globe, today is March 14, otherwise known as Pi Day (or π Day). I’ve been looking forward to this day for 364 days because every year, an online website called the Pi Day Challenge (www.pidaychallenge.com) offers math enthusiasts around the world to solve a number of problems that deal specific with that very well-loved irrational constant pi.
What started you as a small and quirky way to commemorate Pi Day and promote mathematics through games and puzzles has turned into a very large-scale advertising opportunity for almost all big companies in every industry. Just have a look at this article on AdWeek: http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/just-about-every-brand-wants-slice-pi-day-156307. The website features all the big brands that have mentioned, in one way or another, about today being Pi Day. They include, but are not limited to: AT&T, Bing, Red Bull, Little Caesar’s, Oreo, Domino’s Pizza, Delta Airlines, Pillsbury, Pepsi, DiGiorno Pizza, and even Samsung.
As a numbers geek myself, I am truly appreciative of all the mini Pi-Day-special ads that these companies chose to air. In more than just one way, these companies are taking what would normally viewed as boring or even dreadful to schoolchildren and promote in a way that makes math seem cool and worth your time. I know that when I was a kid, when I was told I had to do something, I would be reluctant or even resistant, but if I discovered it on my own and it looked fun, I was more inclined to do it myself without.
As the average age of a person’s first contact with the Internet and social media gets smaller, using these forms of media to promote interest in educational topics is extremely beneficial and advantageous. Primary and secondary schoolchildren who encounter these themselves would be more likely to pursue them as a personal challenge as opposed to if they were told by their teachers to do these problems for homework. It takes all the fun out of it.
Educational institutions can work closely with companies and brands that have very large market share and influence to promote more educational materials this way and encourage children to take up beneficial things on their own. They know there is an audience just ready to receive almost any message, so why not cater some of those messages to suit educational purposes, in addition to the usual marketing-only tweets and posts. It’s a win-win for everyone: children get exposed to positive information and the brands earn good public image as well as fan loyalty.