NEW YORK — To most Americans, July 4 is Independence Day. But on Marlo Anderson’s calendar, it’s also Caesar Salad Day and Barbecued Spareribs Day.
Anderson is the mastermind of the National Day Calendar, an online compendium of pseudo-holidays that has become a resource for TV and radio stations looking to add a little levity to their broadcasts, among others.
The 52-year-old co-owner of a VHS digitizing company in North Dakota started the calendar in 2013 and soon realized the site could be a way for people to declare their own special days. So last year, he started charging $1,500 to $4,000 for “national day” proclamations.
“People certainly don’t need to use us. It’s just we really give it a jump-start,” he said.
Marketing experts give Anderson credit for seizing on the desire by companies and groups for another way to promote themselves, though they question the effectiveness of some of the resulting campaigns. It’s not the only reason for celebration, but food seems to be a common subject for special days.
The National Day Calendar says it has given its blessing to more than 30 made-up holidays. A crouton maker paid for National Crouton Day (May 13), a seafood restaurant submitted National Fried Clam Day (July 3), and a craft beer maker came up with National Refreshment Day (fourth Thursday in July).
Anderson’s venture, which he says brings in roughly $50,000 a year, underscores the free-for-all nature of such days.
In 1870, Congress established the first four federal holidays with New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Since then, only six annual federal holidays have been added, with the most recent being Martin Luther King Jr. day in 1983. But even the authority of those holidays is limited; although they are broadly observed, they’re technically legally applicable only to federal employees.
The National Day Calendar has emerged to bestow an air of authority on special days. For a price, the site mails official-looking proclamations that Anderson prints out and frames at Zoovio, his VHS digitizing business.
Boston Market’s chief brand officer, Sara Bittorf, said the idea for National Rotisserie Chicken Day (June 2) came from the chain’s ad agency, but noted the day was one of few approved by the National Day Calendar’s selection committee.
Because the National Day Calendar doesn’t have its own staff, that selection committee is made up of four Zoovio employees.
Amy LaVallie, a committee member, said the general rule is to pick days with broad appeal. It’s why National Sean Connery Day was rejected, she said, but Boston Market’s submission passed muster.
“National Rotisserie Chicken Day, OK? People like chicken. Simple as that,” LaVallie said.