Christmas is the ultimate marketing campaign

Jesus Christ, Santa Claus, world peace

Is it too soon to talk about Christmas?

I've come to a conclusion: Christmas is the ultimate marketing success. (But not, I assume, in the way originally intended.)

God's gift to retail business: the marketing campaign that runs itself

Year after year, the whisper of Christmas arrives on the autumn wind. With a little help, the whisper builds quickly to a song and then a shout. Frenzy grows. Shoppers are trampled.

How does it happen? I have some ideas that may account for the popularity and success of consumer Christmas.

  • Consumer Christmas is based on an existing broadly recognized cultural-religious holiday, which gives it legitimacy, but it has been effectively expurgated of all spiritual meaning, which means you don’t have to be Christian—or even religious—to celebrate it.
  • It has persistent and wholesome themes (charity, selflessness, giving, family, light in the darkness). In our fast-paced convenience culture, with little time to make gifts or really even think about them, the theme of giving means buying.
  • It has simple symbols (trees, stars, snow, wrapped gifts, red, green), which allow it to easily spread and adapt to different places and cultures.
  • And it has honourable mascots (Santa, Jesus). Who doesn’t root for poor babies born in barns and jolly eccentric old white men who bring gifts to the good children and coal to the bad ones?
  • Followers defend it vehemently, whether or not they have a faith connection to it.
  • You never need to tell people it's coming. Everyone already expects it.
  • Its power of truncated tradition and manipulated myth combine to create a gravitational pull that sometimes traps other events, like Boxing Day, in its orbit. Other pure marketing schemes, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, try to ride the gravitational wave to prominence.
A brief digression

No other holiday is more associated with a child’s smiling face as she unwraps a gift. Today, however, these anticipation and joy have moved from the holiday to the everyday. We have elevated unwrapping to an art, a spectacle to share with the world, and called it unboxing. This is the power of consumer Christmas.

A questionable conclusion

I haven't got a clue what you can do with this information. Okay, maybe I have one clue.

I guess don’t mess with success is the best I can assess. It’s a fair bet that until Jesus returns, Santa will be his lieutenant and consumer Christmas will march around every year, everywhere. It's hard to out-promote a man who selflessly travels the globe bearing gifts for all. (You don’t hear too much about the kids who get coal these days.) It's also hard to be heard above the noise.

I've got a few questions, too.

What if marketers always acted like they were selling to one person? That seems to be the goal of much marketing today, but does it succeed? What would that mean for Christmas: compassion, authenticity, humanity? Does this work? Without a sincere connection to the traditions of Christmas, how can a consumer respond to these themes in Christmas marketing?

I don't know! So please let me know what you think in the comments or on twitter.

– Adam

Fashion Friday: Christmas Cheer

The following Fashion Friday post was written by Yuri Park, an Account Executive at MAVERICK PR. Although the shades in my closet are better suited for the mafia, I’m certainly not shy around my holiday reds and sequins. Then it got me thinking: ‘tis the season for sequins, sparkles, Cosby sweaters, and in a train wreck scenario, all of the above. Now, I’m no fashionista, but I thought I’d put together a few of my personal tips on pulling these loved looks off this holiday season.

The Cosby Sweater Say what you will, but these bad boys are cozy and warm as hell. You could even use the excuse that vintage is back. That being said, it’ll probably make a better hit at a family dinner than a work function. Mostly because your family’s obligated to love you no matter what. I kid. Best paired with: a white men’s Oxford shirt and dark jeans or casual slacks for guys and a pair of tights, knee-high boots and a chunky knit scarf for girls

Sequins and Sparkles They’re fun, they’re glitzy and they’ll absolutely make you stand out. But please, for the sake of preventing an aneurysm, try to stick to one or the other and leave it as a statement piece. If you’re wearing a sequined dress, it’s really not necessary to wear sparkle tights, rhinestone jewellery and an animal print overcoat. If you’re a stickler for matching, match the colours, not the texture. Best paired with: Anything neutral. Sequins, sparkles and prints can be worn as a cardigan, dress or statement accessory but to make it stand out (after all, that’s why you’re wearing it), tone down the rest of your outfit with neutral shades like black, grey, beige and white, and keep other exciting textures to a minimum.

Risky Business We’ve all been to that corporate function where the one girl decides to wear a skin-tight, open-back, deep-V slinky dress and everyone is staring for one reason or another. If you can pull it off, I’m not shy to acknowledge my jealousy for your hot bod. If you’re out with friends and really tight colleagues, go for it. If you’re out with family, that’s just weird.

But please remember that at a corporate function where your CEO/supervisor may be present, most people are nervous that you might pull a Janet Jackson after your next glass of wine. More importantly, it may affect your credibility at the next Monday meeting. I know, it’s a party, but it’s not a college gongshow. You can still keep it PG sexy without looking like a lot lizard. I’m not the biggest Le Chateau fan but something along these lines would work

What advice do you have for holiday fashion?

Yuri Park is YPark28 on Twitter.