I’d like to say I was chatting to a friend of mine the other day. But I wasn’t. I was on the receiving end of a Rant. And yes, it was a Rant with a capital ‘R.’
The holidays are coming tra-la-la-la-la. Well as far as I’m concerned, Ed, they’re not coming until I’ve waded through six more weeks of &*%! in the NHS. Damn Christmas adverts before I’ve even picked up all the fireworks in the garden and the kids being driven ballistic and all this ‘how many sleeps until he comes’ nonsense well I can tell you if I ever come across anyone who wants to see a Christmas advert in November or even thinks about Christmas in November I’ve a good mind to…
At this point, I confessed it was my round and beat a hasty retreat to the bar. Because I was that person. In my previous life it was my job to think about Christmas in March and April.
As most of you know, I spent a lot of time with Diageo and Nestle – booze and chocolates, two items which are fairly high on the shopping list come December. At both companies sales in December were crucial: I won’t say they determined the success or failure of the whole year, but they weren’t far off. So we did a lot of planning and we started that planning early. I was thinking about one Christmas almost as soon as the last one had finished.
As a result, I’m almost expecting to see Christmas ads in November. Show them in September and I might mutter ‘bah, humbug’ – but early November is perfectly fine with me. Besides, I’ve two boys who do manage to drop the occasional hint that Christmas is on its way…
But I realise that I’m in an ever-decreasing minority. I realise that there’s a general feeling that the Christmas ads are appearing on our screens long before we want to see them.
…And the business coach in me wonders, ‘Are the Christmas ads now counter-productive?’ Are the companies that are really winning the Christmas war the ones that are simply carrying on as normal in November?
I just had a look at the Amazon site – which is, after all, where a great many of us will do our Christmas shopping. There’s a discreet message in the top right hand corner: Early Bird Christmas Offers. That’s it; the site is definitely not dripping in tinsel and fairy lights.
More pertinently, does all this have a marketing lesson for our businesses? Do we risk alienating our clients and customers by telling them what they already know?
Does [insert name of your preferred supermarket] really need to spend millions showing me yet another happy couple whose festive season – and possibly marriage – has only been saved by rushing out for some prawn vol-au-vents?
Does my local solicitor need to remind me that I’ll die and therefore need to make a will? Does my accountant need to spend money to tell people that they’ll pay tax?
I’m beginning to wonder if this type of advertising does boost sales – or whether it actually turns people off your brand? As the trend moves from traditional forms of ‘outbound’ marketing to engagement and ‘inbound’ marketing, should we risk telling people what they already know – but don’t want to be reminded of?
My answer is simple: I don’t know. More than ever, I’d be really interested to know what you think – because I’m beginning to wonder if my friend’s rant was indicative of a trend that has marketing implications for all of us…