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Spring roundup: key marketing moments on campus in 2024

We’re taking you from Feb to April in this update of everything driving campus culture in 2024. Tip – we’re also announcing the key moments on a month-by-month basis in our brand new newsletter. Hit subscribe to stay in the loop.

Two young people embrace inside a rainbow flag

LGBT+ History Month 

1 February- 29 February 2024 

LGBT+ History month is in full swing, and the focus this year is medicine and healthcare. This UK-specific event takes place annually, in addition to Pride, in order to mark the abolition of Section 28  – the law that forbade “promoting” homosexuality – back in February 2003. 

The focus will span both those working in the healthcare profession, as well as exploring how the LGBT+ community receives healthcare today – and how that relationship has evolved over the years. 

Two people pose at a LGBTQ+ event

LGBT+ rights will always be inherently political – and with a general election on the horizon, many Gen Z students will be voting for the first time. Understanding the canon of events they exist within will always be important to this ethically-conscious generation – and the healthcare of LGBT+ individuals remains a pressing issue. 

It’s a particularly interesting one on campus – 86% of students care about healthcare, and 57% say they care about LGBT+ rights. This creates a learning opportunity for Gen Z students. And LGBT+ culture is alive and well at UK universities, with fewer members of Gen Z identifying as straight than other generations. 

What can brands do?

As much as LGBT+ History Month is a pressing matter, it’s easy for even the most well-intentioned of brands to rainbow-wash. And while Gen Zs are a generation of activists, they’re not exactly looking to brands to lead them in this activism. Just 7% of Gen Z students want to see political and cause-related content on your social media. This month is all about learning and education – the work that you do behind the scenes to bring your teams up-to-speed on LGBT+ issues, and the steps you take to make your workplaces LGBT+ inclusive, will always be more important than what you put out into the public realm. 

Lunar New Year

10 February 2024 

Lunar New Year is a milestone event for millions of people across the world. On campus, this is heightened – with students who typically celebrate eager to partake in typical traditions, and those who may never have celebrated excited to check out what it’s all about. 

It’s the year of the dragon – so any Gen Zs born in 2000 should have a healthy dose of luck coming their way. And with parades taking place within the UK’s Chinese communities – from London to Liverpool – there will be plenty of opportunities for everyone to celebrate – dragons or not. 

A Lunar New Year celebration

But for the UK’s 151,000+ Chinese students, (as well as peers from other East and South-East nations who also celebrate Lunar New Year), this is their chance to share a little bit of culture with the rest of campus. Writing for the University of Liverpool’s blog, Yankai Huang – a BA Media, Data and Society Student – says “In the hectic student life, planning for special occasions becomes quite a big deal, and celebrating the Lunar New Year is exceptionally important for me and my Chinese peers.”

And with some Chinese students reporting a culture of alienation and separation between themselves and non-Chinese students, Lunar New Year is the perfect opportunity to create unity on campus. 

What can brands do?

Lunar New Year spans 15 days and will have a build-up and aftermath, just like the UK’s Festive season. From Reunion Dinners to Karaoke, students will embark on their own individual celebrations – or indeed, clubs and societies are likely to be running on-campus activity during this time. If there’s a natural way for you to support and tap into the festivities – perhaps you’re a food or drinks brand, or a local venue – then the community will appreciate it!

There’s also been a recent expansion of gifting beyond the traditional Lunar New Year gifts (a red envelope containing cash, or two Mandarin oranges – one in each hand). Brands from Lancome and Barbour have incorporated a festive twist into their product ranges. And – in true keeping with 2024’s Loud Luxury vibe – you can even get a £3,500 bottle of limited-edition cognac to ring in the new year. There’s absolutely a place for shopping, gifting and celebration in the 15-day period. 


14 Feb 2024 

They say that love conquers all. But has it conquered Gen Z? Ageing into a digitally-motivated dating landscape of situationships and swiping, they have markedly different attitudes towards dating, sex and relationships compared to older peers. 

A couple embraces in bed with a valentines' gift

Gen Zs are reportedly having less sex, buying fewer rings, and adopting fewer labels. 

So, what does Valentine’s Day look like on campus in this age of celibacy? Individualism has well and truly entered the chat – with many young people prioritising themselves over a partner. Many Gen Z students will also be wading into grey areas this V-day – “situationships” are reigning supreme. 

What can brands do?

Getting on the V day hype is a well-worn path in the marketing world. But to engage with the next generation, make sure your message caters to every type of relationship. It’s no longer an excuse, in 2024, to be putting out hetronormative dating imagery or language within your campaigns – Gen Zs are increasingly redefining these binaries and they expect you to keep up. 

Beyond this, though, it’s a good idea to look beyond the romance of Valentine’s Day. On campus, Gen Z students are forging some of the deepest friendships of their lives so far – relationships in their own rights, that will outlast university and pave the way to adulthood. Gen Z students will look fondly upon you if you open up opportunities to celebrate their friends, too. 

The best brand tie-ins we’ve seen are those that make light of V-day – and take it from being an exclusive event for the loved-up to an amusing way-in to the giddy echelons of Gen Z humour. See exhibit A: Heinz’s limited edition“Emotional Support Ketchup Bottle”. See also: 19 Crimes’ larger-than-average “Throuple Wine Bottle”. 


February – April 2024 

Think “Varsity”, and perhaps your mind doesn’t spring straight to UK university life. Maybe sports jackets, US football fields – tailgate parties and pep rallies. All of these speak to a  all-American college experience – but guess what? The UK has its own varsity scene. And it’s thriving. 

An American sports game

The premise is the same across the country – two rival universities will go head-to-head in the biggest sports tournament of the academic year. A lot of students will be involved directly – 2 in 3 students participate in sport at university. Others will be involved as spectators and supporters. 

A UK varsity event

Of course, Gen Z have brought their own twist to Varsity in recent years. Notably, 2022 saw the arrival of an Oxbridge Esports varsity. A far cry from the typical boat race! 

What can brands do?

Given that Varsity is a heightened period of activity on campus, with lots of students showing up in-person, physical activations are your friend. You could create your own narrative, following touchpoints that span online and in-person. Remember, 57% of UK students have bought something they tried on campus – and this is absolutely the time to meet them where they are. 

There is a set narrative that governs Varsity season – one of competition and uni pride. You can easily tap into the rivalries and revelries taking over campus, and play a part in the story. 

A sponsored shirt from the University of Cardiff

This is also a great chance to get involved on a society level – sponsor a team or become the official food or beverage of the event. Local businesses, this is your time to shine! 

April Loan Drop

April 2024 

The April Loan Drop is one of three payments to land in students’ bank accounts throughout the academic year. Unlike the Tuition Fee Loan, which goes directly to the university, the Maintenance Loan is designed to cover living expenses for students – so they receive this payment directly, in three “drops” throughout the year. In total, £3.7 billion will land in students’ bank accounts during April. 

66% of undergraduate students native surveyed have a student loan. For many, loan drops are not the only income source – 50% have a job, 28% get money from family,  and 9% rely on income from a side-hustle. April Loan Drop is significant – but it’s part of the picture, not the full picture. Students don’t automatically run out of money when they run out of their student loan payment. 

A young woman shops at Whoelfoods

There are three loan drops throughout the year – but April is slightly different.  Although the three maintenance loan payments are equal in size, the university terms are not. The summer term is the shortest term, so money in term 3 is not as thinly spread as at other times of the year. This gives students a little more disposable income – and a little more financial freedom – than usual. 

What can brands do?

April is a great time to make a first impression: with a newly-refreshed bank balance, students are in a better place to discover new brands. You can invest in on-campus media during the weeks immediately following loan drop, and take your media online post-June to keep momentum going. 

a digital screen

But it’s also an apt opportunity to make a last impression on those students who are heading out into the big bad graduate world. Create a “grad life” campaign to show you’re in their corner even after they leave campus – and nurture the loyalty you’ve built for 3+ years.  

Connecting with students during April also shows that you understand them and their financial patterns: Consider taking a “little and often” approach to April and beyond, with unique offers specifically for student consumers. For exam season, position yourself as a treat that will get them through this tough time – or demonstrate how you can enrich their day-to-day life and make this tough time easier. April’s loan drop will be funnelled into June, July and August’s holiday spend – from outfits to travel, accommodation and festival tickets, there are multiple verticals of note. 

Of course, that’s not all. 

We’ve covered a lot here – but we’ve barely scratched the surface of student activity over the next couple of months. Head over to our Definitive Student Marketing Calendar to find out what you’re missing.