Sunday, October 17, 2010

An Open Letter to Argos and Their Media Agency

Dear Argos/Agency/Media Agency,

I should point out straight away that I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of Argos' communications over the past year or so. This year's campaign is no different, and interesting piece of creative positioned well so that it is very visible and prominent.

I have one complaint however. It is not Christmas, it is the middle of sodding October.

While I appreciate the need to produce advertising and run it in the build up to Christmas (working as I do on retail clients), I worry that you are wasting money on simply annoying people when you could instead be saving that budget for an appropriate time when the work would raise a smile.

Now to be fair, you may have such a large media budget that it doesn't matter if you start your Christmas 2011 advertising on pancake day; but that doesn't mean you should.

Likewise, you may be facing competitors pushing their Christmas advertising further forward each year until you have to start promoting in summer. But why not at the very least create some work that references the fact it is early, and make that a point of humour; making your competitors look silly for getting in so ridiculously early.

I'm by no means a Scrooge, by no means a killjoy. I love the fun and happy atmosphere created by Christmas and the spirit of the season. My issue is that this IS NOT the season, this is early autumn, this is early even to have Halloween parties.

In the meeting where the media schedule is discussed, when it was said "And our Christmas campaign this year will start in the second week of October", a full 10 weeks before Christmas, and well over 70 days... how did no one say "Isn't that a bit early?". If in a media review it was suggested that we start promoting a summer sale in the middle of March, that might be considered a bit weird. Or perhaps we should start the early promotion of Christmas 2013 next August.

Two years in a row the first Christmas advertising I have seen has been for Argos, and contrary to what some people might think that is not a good thing. It just makes me want to avoid your stores and ignore your advertising for the next month, precisely the time I actually start looking for Christmas bargains and start deciding where to shop.

What I'm trying to say is: Please stop spoiling your interesting creative work by running it at a completely innapropriate time. I'd like to be able to react to your work based on it's merits, not the fact that I am aghast at seeing Christmas work already.

I hope next year we can meet properly at a reasonable time, try say a few days after Bonfire night at the very very earliest.

Regards and Merry Xmas

Rob "Cringle" Mortimer


Helen Catterall said...

At the end of day the decision for Argos, and other, on when to advertise and on what subject comes down to economics. Another good example is the supermarkets, which tend to start stocking (excuse the pun!) Christmas items from the end of September onwards. If there were insufficient people buying these items, then they would not devote aisles to stock their Christmas goods. The fact they do stock Christmas items so early does suggest that there must be sufficient demand to warrant it, even if there are other shoppers who disagree.

Rob Mortimer (aka Famous Rob) said...

Of course. But the fact they have been the first Christmas advertiser I have seen for two years running suggests they are ones moving it forward.

Also, are they just moving people's purchases forward? People might buy Christmas things in September purely because they are there, not because they had any actual desire to beforehand.

Economics is kind of my point though, does this early advertising not reduce the effectiveness of their budget? Instead of hitting people at the best time, aren't they hitting them too early, before most have any desire to think about Christmas shopping.

Or at the very least, why not use the space in a way that reflects how early it is...?

andrea said...

You should see the MSE forums - they seem like the kind of people Argos is aiming for. They're the real 'spread the cost of Christmas throughout the year' folks - meaning buy stuff each month and promote the kind of "buy it now and think of whom to give it to later" attitude. Which I won't comment on.

They probably don't see it as early. At most it shows that they think of people as drones who need to see the ad millions of times in order to process it once. Waste of space? Yes indeed...but you know my feelings on Argos ;)

Rob Mortimer (aka Famous Rob) said...

I think Argos has made good steps over the last decade to become more relevant and improve the customer experience.

I don't think the ads of the last couple of years have been like that though Andrea, they have been much more thoughtful and amusing than the old blunt work.

Promotional Products said...

I have to echo Helen's point, these retailers wouldn't do this if people didn't buy the products that are put out there.

Tim Forte said...

It's the same every year and it seems to become earlier and earlier, although I don't think it dramatically shifts.

Two weeks ago I tweeted about the Christmas pudding making an early appearance and that there must be preparing for a pudding rush.

But, Rob you're right. It's to create demand. If it's in front of you there’s always going to be someone that can't help themselves.

The way to explain this better would be to think about how the super market is laid out around the checkout area. We're waiting to pay for our goods but have to stare at the products strategically placed, enticing us to pick them up while we patiently wait our turn to pay.

This was invented by a guy called Victor Gruen, who designed the very first shopping mall and discovered these techniques of selling more goods just by placement.

The next time your in the supermarket watch others waiting in the checkout line and see if you can spot anyone give in to the well placed product (or pudding).

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