/ Money, Shopping, Travel & Leisure

Does Christmas commercialisation wind you up?

Paper Christmas tree

Shops have been stocking Christmas tat since October – way too early to start getting into the festive spirit. Does this suck the joy out of Christmas for you?

I love Christmas. Looking ahead to some time off with my family, eating lovely food, making the people I love happy by giving them gifts and, of course, getting them myself. What’s not to like?

Well, there is one thing actually – the shops’ insistence on marketing Christmas from October. At the very least, they should wait until Bonfire Night has passed (like we have with the publication of this convo). And preferably later. They certainly shouldn’t be sticking the chocolate reindeer and gift sets up next to Halloween masks and plastic pumpkins.

Why are we so wound up by Christmas?

A recent poll by Uswitch found that Christmas is number five on a list of things that wind people up during winter, coming in above slipping on ice and their homes being cold.

I reckon this is because they’re so fed up with being continually reminded to spend money and buy festive stuff. It sucks the joy out of what should be a happy celebration.

Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you can appreciate some time off and an excuse to snuggle in front of the telly. And if you do celebrate it, then you should be looking forward to digging out the Christmas CDs and decorations, choosing festive fizz and deciding who’s going to cook the turkey this year. You shouldn’t be moaning in a survey about how you’d rather fall on your backside on the ice than have fun with your family.

Does festive marketing cast a dampener on your own Christmas plans, or does it help get you in the mood? When would you prefer to see Christmas stuff appearing on the shop shelves?


Absolutely. If commercial firms cannot control themselves perhaps a law restricting the sale and advertising until after November 11th. No accidentally tying of sales campaigns to worthier events.


Oh dear…. I rather like the early portents of Xmas. But then my beloved despairs when I get the crates of Xmas lights out in Mid-October…


I must also confess to having crate-loads of Christmas lights, but they don’t come out before 20 December.


Until the advent of affordable LED lights, it used to take me a month to get them all working again 🙂


I think it’s reached a low point when retailers send out e-mails to customers about the launch of their Christmas advertising campaigns, and the media actually review this ephemera as if they are significant movies, analysing the themes, plot lines, characterisation, animation, music and graphics. Talk about incestuous.

A bag of humbugs, please.


I can’t help but admire the marketing stroke of genius that has turned the Christmas advert into an ‘event’. Someone somewhere has achieved the feat of getting millions of people to advertise an advert on their behalf….for free.


The spend on the Xmas Ad creations is monumental. They’re more mini-dramas, now, than simply ads. But I’m not sure it was, as you suggest, just marketing genius. More likely that most folk love Xmas, love the feelings associated with the entire period and, probably most importantly, enjoy well-made television. Entertainment is the fastest growing business in the modern world for good reason: we enjoy being distracted, often from high-pressure jobs, family problems, financial worries and much more. The best of the Xmas ads are truly memorable – quite often because they’re not selling something directly, only evoking an emotional response. This year’s JL ad is an excellent example.

And, as a corollary to that, it’s worth remembering that all outstanding ad campaigns have become features in their own right. Most recently, the meerkat ads and, earlier, Heineken and those superb ads by Ridley Scott. We’re suckers for well-made entertainment.


I’d say that tapping into the feelings you’ve listed above on such a large scale and translating it into an advert for your business could be considered marketing genius – these firms certainly aren’t putting the spend just to spread Christmas cheer.

But the real masterstroke is in the sharing and discussion when the advert is released – you can’t buy that sort of publicity (and it would seem, you don’t need to). Upon its release I was bombarded by it, and not by companies, but by my friends – it’s crazy.


Oh, I’m sure a lot of genius was employed throughout the process. My argument, though, was more or less what you’ve said in your final sentence: combing huge spend with a season in which folk actively want distractions and entertainment has combined with the explosion in social media to produce the current situation. In other words, the ‘event’ status which you credit to Marketing I suspect is more a social phenomenon. Great benefit to the ad companies, of course, but led by the insatiable desire for distraction on the part of ordinary folk. It’s a bit chicken and egg: which came first – the collective delight in the sparking quality of the Xmas ads, or the Xmas ads’ marketing to make them such scintillating yet ephemeral objects of desire?

I suppose I sometimes suspect that Marketing is often credited far more than is deserved.