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And so this is Xmas..again

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Monday December 25, 2006 )

Just some thoughts on Christmas 2006. As in previous years; this year I have successfully dodged the majority of the hype surrounding this most screwed up of all days in the Western calendar. I personally don’t celebrate the day for many reasons.

My feelings and approach to Xmas is rather different to most involved in marketing. I won’t mince words here, so you might want to leave reading this until after the day has passed. Far be it from me to rain on anyone’s parade ;).

I’m not religious, but I do respect Christmas is meant to be a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, even though he wasn’t born anywhere near December 25, nor did he command his followers to observe the event. In relation to his own life; he only ever directed that what’s popularly known as the “Last Supper” be comemmorated.

That aside, let’s now look at the veil that modern times has thrown over Christmas. Supposedly, it’s also a time for giving, for assisting the needy, for quality time with family and loved ones, for peace and goodwill to all men. Then why is it that Xmas is so stressful for so many people? Counselling services experience huge increases in the volume of helpline calls due to stress and depression over the Xmas and New Year period.

My partner returned from the local supermarket yesterday and told me about a couple who were having a screaming match in the car park. Frayed tempers; another trademark of the silly season. When I was there earlier in the day, people looked tired and frustrated; but perhaps it was because of the cacophony of Christmas carols spewing out from various stories.

Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas” when it’s summer here in the driest state in the driest content and we’re in the middle of the worst drought for a thousand years to just warped.

Oh, and let’s not forget the often useless gifts we give to each other, often out of a sense of obligation than from the heart – you know, the ones that many of us in business depend upon consumers buying so we get our cream for the year. We convince people that at this “special” time of the year, product X will show people that we really love them. Businesses send out gifts to customers and partners, not so much out of the spirit of Xmas, but to try and ensure repeat sales.

In the weeks leading up to today, I received many emails from suppliers and merchants wishing me a merry Xmas and trying to convince me that I needed to buy X for X in order to prove that I was a loving human being.

Collectively, we in the business community are responsible for the farce that Christmas has become and we need to fix it.

It certainly doesn’t have to be the way it is now. We can make Xmas really mean something special, benefit millions *and* make a profit.

One of the nicest gifts I saw given this year was from my stepdaughter’s boss. Kirstee works for a jewelry chain called Silver Phantasy. The owner of Silver Phantasy, Leon, bought seeds and tools for a 3rd world family on behalf of Kirstee. A brilliant gift given by a guy who is really switched on to what the season is supposedly about. More power to you Leon!

Next year, I’d love to see more of this and for the concept to be extended further. If the big box brands and smaller retailers could get together and say “ok guys, this year let’s all promote giving gifts to the needy and other philanthropic approaches as the focus.. oh, and how about we do something about our sweatshop associations while we’re at it”; they would set the wheels in motion for massive changes in the culture of Christmas.

That would be a truly amazing Christmas don’t you think?

Business owners would still make money and millions of needy people would benefit. Perhaps this is something you can think about for your business for Xmas 2007. Even if your product isn’t something that could be given to a needy person locally or overseas; maybe a slice of your profits could be donated instead. It could still be a great marketing tool.

By the big retailers taking the lead, the whole culture of Christmas could change very rapidly, while still becoming a cash bonanza for business owners. My view is this; if a person isn’t absolutely thrilled with receiving a gift such as Kirstee received from Leon, then that person really needs to re-examine what it is to be human. That’s a little harsh perhaps but eh; let’s just put it down to it being Xmas day when my cynicism tends to be a little more active than usual :).

As I did last year, I won’t wish you a Merry Xmas, but I do * very sincerely* extend my best wishes to you and your loved ones. Here’s to prosperity; but more importantly – peace in 2007.

Read more of my thoughts on Christmas marketing (bookmark it for 2007) – if you dare :).

And if you’re a glutton for punishment; here’s my Xmas post from last year.

’nuff said on the subject from me until around October of next year; or whenever the first glimmer of tinsel rears its ugly head again :).


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