With 2024 in full swing, brands are busy locking in their budgets and campaign spends for the year. Tentpoles play an integral part in the strategic planning for many brands and Q1 is packed with many important tentpoles that should be on every brand’s radar.
Why tentpole marketing matters
Building marketing campaigns around tentpole events is a critical part of any social-first marketing strategy. It’s key to driving engagement and staying on top of trending topics and hashtags, especially in a creator economy that continually demands a constant stream of new content. The tentpoles outlined in this list are all highly relevant to social-first audiences and consumers, and while it’s not all-encompassing of everything happening in Q1, we’ve chosen tentpoles that offer brands and marketers tons of opportunities to authentically build organic engagement and positive brand lift.
With budgets and campaign spend determined well in advance, brands and marketers should ensure that they’ve covered these tentpoles in their influencer marketing and social media plans now.
Important Q1 tentpoles for your 2024 calendar
Here are some of the biggest dates and events in Q1, in chronological order.
Jan. 15: The Emmys
The Emmys is an awards show focused on celebrating the best in American prime-time TV. This year’s Emmys are notable because the awards show was postponed until January from its usual September air date due to the writer and actor strikes, and the air is abuzz with excitement and possibilities.
Social media has become the primary way that audiences engage with award shows, and last year, there was a slew of influencers doing hosting duties for the Emmys’ red carpet while also creating content tailored for their social-first audiences. And while almost 6M people tuned into the last Emmys broadcast, a viral, expletive-filled moment from Lizzo (caught by red-carpet host and influencer ashyizzle) got over 14.4M views on TikTok – which only demonstrates the massive reach and potential of influencers to boost and amplify even established, mainstream brands like this long-running awards show. We’ve linked the clip here, but be warned – the language is definitely not safe for work!
Even more mindblowing is the fact that the five TikTok posts that ashyizzle did at the Emmys have over 25M combined views – which is more than 4x as many people who watched the live broadcast!
People have long pointed out that award shows have been facing declining viewership numbers for years but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re dying or people have lost interest. It could be that linear TV no longer dominates the media landscape as it once did as audiences prefer social media and OTT content over traditional broadcasts – and the massive views from influencers like Ashyizzle only help prove that point.
Jan. 16 – 21: Paris Fashion Week
Paris Fashion Week is one of the world’s most prestigious and popular fashion events. The celebration attracts some of the biggest fashion designers, models, and celebrities and it’s a can’t-miss for anyone with the slightest interest in fashion. Paris Fashion Week happens a few times a year to celebrate and showcase different aspects of the fashion world, and the January iteration is focused on menswear and haute couture.
Paris Fashion Week is known for being an ultra exclusive event for the rich, famous, and powerful but by working with fashion influencers, brands can give audiences a tantalizing glimpse behind the scenes through content that is seen as being more ‘real’, authentic, and relatable than the highly polished pics and videos from the fashion houses and media outlets.
Influencers are also expert digital storytellers with the ability to hop on trends and put out content at lightning-speed (when compared to traditional campaign activations), and when combined with livestreaming, they can drive real-time engagement and buzz with reactions and commentary in the moment.
Feb. 1 – 29: Black History Month
Creating an influential campaign for Black History Month requires thoughtful planning, cultural sensitivity, and a genuine commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion. Increasingly, brands are channeling their Black History efforts through Black influencers and creators, along with alignment with Black-owned businesses who not only reflect the community but are better equipped to speak to the unique issues it faces.
Remember to approach Black History Month with authenticity, respect, and a commitment to long-term diversity and inclusion efforts. Tailor your campaign to align with your brand values and ensure that it contributes positively to the ongoing conversation about diversity and equality.
For example, we partnered with Intuit Quickbooks for last year’s Black History Month on a campaign that featured interviews with successful Black entrepreneurs with an accompanying blog article.
The campaign’s main goals were to not only break down money taboos but also inspire other business owners by making money more transparent and relatable.
Feb 4: The Grammys
The Grammy Awards is ‘the biggest night in music’. But what makes the Grammys so unique among award shows is that it’s a great example of the transformative power of social media (TikTok in particular) to shake-up and even disrupt established media institutions. Many of the 2024 nominees (from Best New Artist to Record of the Year) made waves on TikTok long before going on to conquer the world – just think of how many songs TikTok has propelled to cultural dominance (for better or worse, depending on your musical taste).
Brands can get in on the action by doing audience polls asking who will win and making their own Grammy playlists while keeping an eye out for any meme-worthy moments to capitalize on in real-time. Other great ways brands can leverage the Grammy hype include incorporating Grammy-nominated music in their own social media posts and doing retrospective content that features past winners for a nostalgic gut punch that’s particularly effective on millennials.
Feb. 9 – 14: New York Fashion Week
New York Fashion Week (NYFW) is another huge event in the fashion world and the biggest differentiator between Paris and New York is that, generally, Paris is more traditional, exclusive, and focused on haute couture, while New York is more accessible and catered towards business and sales while featuring the latest trends – one of which is influencers.
But the fashion space has always been an early adopter of creators and influencers so this is a really developed space for social media marketing, and last year saw multiple influencers not only in the front row but also strutting down the catwalk. Influencer partnerships can help brands stand out at NYFW through shopping haul videos, street style fits, and media interviews.
A recent post from NYFW’s official TikTok channel features basketball star Steph Curry chatting with designer Paul Richards as part of a collaboration between Rakuten and the Black in Fashion Council (BIFC) to spotlight designers of color. It’s a standout example of how brands can work with celebrity athletes like Steph Curry to give other creators a voice – which was amplified on social media with over 7.6M views of that single post!
@Stephen Curry chats with emerging designer, Paul Richards, about his most recent collection for his brand, Pierre Blanc, brought together by the #BlackInFashionCouncil and Rakuten. @Rakuten is partnering with the #BIFC to provide a platform for designers of color to showcase their work on a larger scale.
♬ original sound – NYFW: The Shows
Feb. 10: Lunar New Year
Lunar New Year celebrates the start of the lunar calendar and is observed in countries such as China, Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, and Malaysia, as well as the diaspora from those communities. It’s a huge chance for brands to partner with influencers with strong ties to the Asian communities who celebrate it, and it can be a great reflection of a brand’s DEI values and initiatives.
Feb. 11: Super Bowl
Super Bowl LVIII is the biggest day in American football but it’s become so big that it transcends sports and has become a cultural event with more than 115M Americans watching it in 2023. It’s also famous for the exorbitant prices for a Super Bowl ad spot – which averaged $7M USD last year.
But brands can still get in on the excitement, even if they don’t have millions to spend on a Super Bowl commercial because social media marketing before, during, and after the Super Bowl has been proven to be extremely effective as 43% of viewers admitted to scrolling on social media as they watched the big game.
Feb. 14: Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is a day of love and romance and it’s a great opportunity for brands to offer themed packages, discounts, or gift guides around this special occasion. It’s also a golden opportunity for brands to make highly emotional content that tugs at the heartstrings and makes people think of their loved ones.
Conversely, other brands have capitalized on Valentine’s Day with ‘anti-Valentine’s Day’ messaging for those who don’t celebrate it, whether because they’re single, think it’s become too commercial, or other personal reasons.
Influencers spanning a diverse range of verticals are also a perfect match for Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns as they can create relatable content that resonates with audiences as they talk about their loves and dating disappointments, as well as suggest gifts for loved ones or prepare a special V-Day meal.
For example, influencer Loryn Powell partnered with Beatbox Beverages last year to create a number of special Valentine’s Day cocktails to share with their favorite person.
Feb. 18: NBA All-Star Weekend
The NBA All-Star Weekend brings the NBA’s biggest stars together for a weekend of jaw-dropping dunks and skills competitions, with the finale being the All-Star Game. It’s a high-profile event that connects the dots between superfans, casual watchers of the game, and a long list of brands looking to make an impact at the event and on social media.
Increasingly, brand sponsors are pairing up with sports creators and influencers to capture activations and experiences during the weekend to share with their fans on their social channels, which is a more cost-effective and impactful way for brands to align with the highly anticipated event and its fans.
The 2024 All-Star Game will be held in Indianapolis and it’s getting significant buzz because this year, it’s going back to its roots with the best players in the East going against the best in the West, versus the player draft model it used for the last few years.
Mar. 8: International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day, as the name implies, celebrates women around the world while working towards fighting gender-based exclusion and stereotypes.
There are many ways that brands can recognize women and their contributions, and it commonly involves spotlighting the women in their workforce who inspire, manage, and lead their colleagues and teams. This year’s campaign theme is “Inspire Inclusion” as the fight for a better, more equitable world continues. And working with female influencers is more than simply an ethical decision – it’s good for business, too, as women creators and consumers have a huge impact on social-first marketing and the greater creator economy. Not only do women follow influencers more than men, but women are also more likely to try out influencer-recommended products.
Last year, we posted this interview between Viral Nation co-founder Joe Gagliese and his mother Suzanne, where they talked about the challenges she faced throughout her 35-year career as a women in tech.
Mar. 10: Academy Awards (aka the Oscars)
The Academy Awards (also known as ‘the Oscars’) is the most prestigious awards ceremony in Hollywood. It’s a night where all the stars come out to honor the best in film and it is considered a huge accomplishment to be nominated, let alone win.
Similar to other award shows, the Oscars are realizing the importance of bringing influencers and creators into the fold in order to capture eyeballs in younger social-first demographics.
The red carpet, winners, and acceptance speeches always make the news and brands can capitalize on these big moments by working with influencers to develop incredibly engaging content – even if the influencers weren’t at the events themselves – by finding creators in relevant niches, such as film criticism, fashion, and entertainment/gossip to effectively trend jack any viral Oscar moments.
Mar. 17: St. Patrick’s Day
St. Patrick’s Day originated as a religious holiday in Ireland over a thousand years ago but these days, it’s turned into a popular celebration of Irish heritage and culture, particularly in North America. People wear green, drink green beer and/or Guinness, and attend St. Patrick’s Day parades in places all over the world, from New York to Tokyo.
Brands often get in on the action with all-green everything but St. Patrick’s Day marketing can go far beyond that to include countdowns, giveaways, and traditional Irish recipes for those trying to avoid the pubs and parties.
Mar. 19 – Apr. 8: March Madness
March Madness is an annual, Division I men’s college basketball tournament put on by the NCAA that features 68 teams in a high-stakes sudden-death tournament. It attracts a wide audience – from die-hard college basketball fanatics to those who guessed their way through their March Madness brackets simply to participate.
March Madness is one of the most popular sporting events of the year and it’s great for brand campaigns because it sustains massive amounts of interest over its more than two-week run, with excitement reaching a fever pitch once you get to the Final Four.
It’s a chance for fans to root for their hometown colleges that normally don’t get any attention on the national stage, and with games being played all over the country, March Madness is one of the most accessible sporting events – plus, the tickets are generally more affordable, especially for the early rounds, which makes it ideal for families, groups of friends, and anyone interested in what all the fuss is about.
This post from sports influencer and basketball pro Anthony Hamilton Jr perfectly captured the excitement of last year’s March Madness:
Mar. 23: Earth Hour Day
Earth Hour was created by the World Wildlife Fund to encourage people around the world to “spend 60 minutes doing something – anything – positive for our planet”. Originally, it involved people switching off any non-essential lights for one hour, from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm, to raise awareness of climate change and our impact on the planet.
With millions of people around the world participating, it’s a symbolic gesture that makes a big statement when you see landmarks around the world go dark, and it’s a testament to the power of collective action. It’s a chance for brands to stand in solidarity with the environment and also highlight the commitments and progress they’ve made for sustainable global action.
Mar. 31: Easter
Many brands will celebrate Easter with social media posts that feature the Easter bunny, while others will offer sales, themed packaging, Easter gift guides, or even Easter countdowns. Popular Easter messaging for brands includes the idea of renewal, family, and hope, along with imagery of spring. Some brands even have special products that only come around every Easter (most famously, Cadbury’s Creme Egg).