Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Merry Bloody Christmas
Every single year we get brands talking about Christmas before we even get to Halloween. It's bloody annoying, but does it actually work?
Have you ever met anyone who saw a Christmas ad in October and went "Oh my god, I totally forgot Christmas is coming up, I better go buy all my stuff now!", I sure as hell haven't. Even for people who get their shopping done early, mid October is stretching it just a bit.
By coming out so early with these ads, surely brands are creating negative reactions that actually count against them? Are they damaging rather than inspiring? Almost everyone I know reacts with a depressed sigh of inevitability when the first ad comes on, even mocking the brands that do it. Given many people are completely fatigued with all things Christmassy before it ever gets to December, are you not just placing the brand name in a category marked 'Christmas hassle'.
In fact the massive queues, rushed service and lack of stock that you expect at Christmas are incredibly annoying; and to me using massively Christmas advertising early risks placing a store into the category marked 'This will be packed full of Christmas shoppers, I won't go there.' I wonder if there is room for an approach that deliberately goes against the Christmas flow, not anti-Christmas, but marks a store out as maintaining a pleasant and comfortable experience while everywhere else is going completely over the top with shoving red things in front of your eyes everywhere you look. 'We love Christmas as much as the next person, but we aren't going to go overboard.'
I think a lot of stores fear being seen as 'Bah Humbug!' if they don't engage with the red redder reddest traditions, but actually I think stores drive the perception more than people actually want it. I know a lot of people who would be far more likely to shop somewhere that built up to Christmas in a subtle way.
So is the point to simply associate the name of the store with Christmas, which in a crowded market would make sense; but would that actually work any better by starting weeks before most people actually do any shopping? Sure you want to combat people going online and buying, but what percentage of people actually buy NOW? Not many I'm sure, and the ones who do probably already know exactly what they are buying and where from. Those who are undecided will probably wait til much nearer the time to choose where to go, and with so many stores advertising the odds are they won't be basing their decisions on an ad from 5 weeks earlier.
At least if you are going to talk about Christmas this sodding early, talk about 'getting in early to beat the crowds', 'we'll help you get it out of the way' or 'low stock expected so why not buy now', give the brand a genuine reason to talk to people in October, not just jumping into the race to get a piece of tinsel on screen as early as possible.
In addition: When Christmas shopping this year, please spare a thought for the poor store staff who have to listen to the same 15 Christmas songs on in-store radio, on loop, every single day for two months... I will say though, as an ex store employee, the very worst day to work is Boxing Day. You get hundreds of people piling in with their unwanted gifts and exchanges, all while being swamped by sale hunters. When I did it I was in the middle of serving a customer when someone literally tried to manually pull me around to get me to speak to them. Not fun.