13 Jul It’s Like Christmas in July! Which is all too common in marketing…
It’s that time of year again! Despite strawberries at Wimbledon, the Euros and the odd smattering of barbecue-suitable sunshine, something inconceivable is about to happen. Whether you’re about to get an email asking you to confirm your attendance at the Christmas Party or you notice that Channel 5 is inexplicably showing Home Alone or It’s A Wonderful Life, the first hint of Christmas is about to turn up.
While for most of us, it’s about as welcome as the proverbial flatulence in an elevator, what’s odd is that people get quite excited about the mention of the Christmas party and Channel 5 gets good viewing figures for Christmas movies. The people who love Christmas this much are generally viewed with suspicion and irritation to the rest of us, but at this pretend festive period, spare a thought for the marketers.
The build-up to Christmas is one that, as we all know, takes time. Unfortunately for the marketing team, it’s about the opening of summer that the first plans are made for the end of the year. The Christmas period is such a big time for just about every business that starting your planning to get it just right takes time. The bigger your budget, the more time you need to get your ducks in a row; it’s entirely likely that some ads are already on standby for filming and TV Christmas specials have been shot, with roaring fires, badly patterned jumpers and stars desperately trying not to drop from heat exhaustion.
One reason it’s getting ever earlier is the shift in advertising. Hit YouTube to see (frankly hilarious) Woolworths Christmas adverts from the 80’s and it’s all about two-for-one Memorex VHS tapes and half-price Milk Tray boxes, but today’s marketing is what would have been called ‘The Soft Sell’. People are too sophisticated to fall for the ‘QUICK! Buy it now!’ approach; instead brands have to create a tone and demonstrate that they fully understand the ‘true meaning of Christmas’ and connect with consumers. Check out John Lewis for the perfect example of how a shop can entice people without any of its adverts revolving around ‘buying’.
This in itself is very tricky and making sure you convey the correct message when dealing with subtext and feeling takes a lot of work. Every nuance and possible misinterpretation has to be considered and avoided; for the most part, brands already do this but when it’s a flagship campaign it becomes ever more vital.
Whether or not you want to fire the Christmas starting gun on the first Sunday of Advent or you’re quite happy to start making paper chains while the Guy Fawkes embers are still smouldering, it’s all about the prep work and sadly, it’s a year round task. In order to give your Christmas campaign, the greatest chance of success, it may just involve you getting excited about Christmas films in July whilst eating roasted chestnuts and washing them down with spiced eggnog – but that’s just the price you pay for great marketing!