The [Un]official Content Marketing Calendar

Originally published on the blog

Today is July 17.  Did you know that, according to Brafton, ‘Back to School’ marketing starts…now?

Back to School


If you’re anything like me, you hate it when retailers start blasting Christmas music while Halloween candy is still on the shelves (unless it’s Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ – I love that song).  Whatever happened to Thanksgiving?  Poor Thanksgiving.  So overlooked, so under-marketed.  And why?

Because unless you’re selling turkeys, cranberry sauce or pilgrim outfits, Thanksgiving doesn’t provide a lot of opportunities for a diverse set of retailers to market into.  And, with the granddaddy of shopping holidays right around the corner, marketers save their dough for Christmas marketing.

‘Back to School’ in July.  Christmas in October.  Everybody knows that marketers and advertisers pump out content ahead of holidays and events to generate demand.  But what does the [un]official content marketing calendar look like?  In my opinion, something like this…. (Let’s see if you agree…)


If you thought New Year’s, you thought wrong.  That’s in December.  Everybody already has their champagne and party hats by January 1st.  Marketers are looking ahead to the next month and its secular holidays and the next year in terms of trends stories.

  • ‘The Year Ahead’ stories and predictions
  • Early Valentine’s Day
  • Early Super Bowl…which, of course, is a trademarked term, so is more often referred to as “The Big Game”


Ah, yes, St. Valentine’s month.  The month of love, romance, roses…and jewelry commercials.  Not to mention the month of the actual Super Bowl itself.  The cost of a 30-second ad during the game this year?  $4 million dollars, by the way.


The old saying goes that March comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb.  Really, though, March just roars all month long.  March is a time when everybody itches to shake off the cabin fever of the long winter and taste a piece of spring.  Too often, though, that taste of spring is in the form of green beer.  March is, in fact, a party month.

  • St. Patty’s Day.  The time of aforementioned green beer and partying.  Every brand seems to find a way to wear the green and claim, at least for a day, to be a little Irish.
  • March Madness…which, you should know, like “Super Bowl” is actually a trademarked term.  And which is why most advertisers don’t actually use it.  According to USA Today, it can cost upwards of $35 million to become an official licensed partner of the NCAA (which runs the annual men’s basketball championship tournament from which “March Madness” derives its name and which owns the phrase and regulates its usage).
  • Spring Break
  • Tax Season


April is a slow month for marketers.  Aside from major religious holidays (Easter, Passover), it lacks marketing-driven, saint-sanctioned, yet secular, sales-fests like St. Patrick’s Day and Valentine’s Day.


In May you’ve got Mom, Memorial Day and Mexico.  Or, rather, Cinco de Mayo, which you might not have known, isn’t actually Mexico’s independence day, but rather it’s “most patriotic holiday” (according to Wikipedia…and who am I to argue with Wikipedia?).


Yes, June actually is when summer kicks in, so the month features a lot of travel and vacation marketing.  It’s also the time of “Dads & Grads” for Father’s Day and high school and college graduations.

  • Father’s Day
  • “Dads & Grads”
  • June is also national Gay/LGBT Pride Month, which is becoming a more mainstream, trendy topic that more and more brands are taking advantage of in clever ways.  Like, believe it or not, fancy mustard-maker Grey Poupon.  Grey Poupon did a gay pride ad?  Yup.  And it’s cool.  The Facebook ad received nearly 20,000 “likes,” more than 3,500 shares.

Grey Poupon


As we’ve already discussed, believe it or not, July is a time to look ahead to ‘Back to School’ marketing.  As well as, obviously, the 4th of July.

  • ‘Back to School’
  • 4th of July
  • Bastille Day.  OK, it’s not the 4th of July.  Or even Cinco de Mayo.  Or even Canada Day, which is celebrated on July 1.


Ever wonder why there’s not much marketing in August?  It’s because we’re all on vacation.  Of course, ‘Back to School’ marketing kicks into high gear, but other than that, it’s a thin time for marketers – and anybody else doing business.



September is the best month of the year for a large majority of the male population in this country.  Yes, Labor Day is nice.  Sure, the kids are back in school, which can be a relief to many.  But, to most, September kicks-off, literally, the best time of the year…football season!


Boo!  October is, obviously, dominated by Halloween marketing.  However, Halloween marketing has widely diversified to include the usual stuff (costumes and candy) and to include other things.  Halloween is the time when Hollywood rolls out its scariest movies.  With a lot of kids on the streets ‘trick or treating’ and parties, it’s also become a significant ‘awareness campaign’ month for everything from child safety to drunk driving.

  • Halloween
  • The beginning of, yes, Holiday Season (cue the Mariah Carey…)
  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which has become a marketing juggernaut (no cheeky pun intended), with its trademark pink splashed on everything from NFL uniforms to Major League Baseball bats and more.



Poor Thanksgiving.  It’s hardly worth mentioning as a marketing opportunity.  As retailers head into Black Friday and the heart of the holiday shopping season, Christmas and holiday shopping dominates November marketing.



December is, duh, dominated by holiday shopping.  However, in terms of content marketing, it’s also the time of the ‘year in review’ byline/infographic/blog post and the ‘predictions for next year’ piece as well.

  • Holidays (Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa)
  • New Year’s Eve – a.k.a. the only time the folks at Korbel work all year (I kid, I kid…)
  • ‘Year in Review’ pieces
  • ‘Year Ahead’ pieces
  • And let us not forget, of course, FESTIVUS!

That’s it, your [un]official content marketing calendar year in review.  What did I miss?  Which of your favorite marketing opportunities – holidays, awareness days, consumer trends, societal obligations – didn’t make the list?  Let us know.  We love to find clever, engaging marketing opportunities wherever they exist.

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