Back off Santa! Shoppers say NO to Christmas ads

“No-no-no!” Christmas in October is a no no.

Before you launch your new Christmas themed TV ad you may want to pause a moment and ask if you are doing more harm than good for your brand?

A new survey has revealed that the British shopper is fed up of Christmas themed TV ads appearing too early in the year. In the survey, Britain’s retailers also come under attack for selling Christmas items, decorating stores and playing “the same old’ tunes too soon in the year.

The survey discovered that 92% of shoppers think that shops are too quick to put up Christmas decorations. Over 9 out of 10 shoppers also felt that TV ads were being aired too early, with some shoppers complaining of the cheesiness of some of the ads and left uninspired by their repetitive and cliché content.

Shoppers’ frustration didn’t end there, either.  75% of them thought that Christmas was being over-exploited by companies, with the effect of devaluing the true ethos of Christmas. “It is meant to be the season of good will, not buy this, buy that” fumed one shopper, “it devalues Christmas”. The findings suggest that shoppers are far from convinced by the festive “good will” of companies, with many finding the use of Santa to sell exploitive.

90% of shoppers recommended that shops and advertisers should wait until at least November, post Halloween and fireworks night,  before getting into the Christmas spirit. “Christmas seems to be getting earlier every year,” one shopper commented. “by the time it happens you’re bored with it.”

The advice to brands (and media planners) wanting to connect with shoppers is to wait until mid November or they’ll just put consumers off. The survey also suggests that just throwing in some  snow and a Santa may make your TV ad more ignorable than noticeable as it’s cheesy and looks like so many others. Brands can be more effective by doing something different and thus standing out from the crowd.

A recent survey by Mumsnet (carried out for the ‘Why Women Shop on Venus & Men Shop on Mars’ conference) revealed that shoppers hate patronising ads, especially those that featured women talking about a product around a kitchen table, which begs the question, “why are there so many on the box?” Consumers are looking for more intelligence, imagination and entertainment in TV ads these days, not to be bored into buying things.

A few other findings…

Who popularised Santa as being dressed in red? Over half the shoppers surveyed (54% ) knew that Santa’s red attire was popularised by one of the world’s biggest advertisers –  Coca-Cola.

Do ads make us spend too much at Christmas? 67% of the shoppers believed that advertising forced them to spend too much on presents – a sensitive issue in a recession; with one respondent arguing that advertising causes excessive spending generally. Another shopper stressed that advertising forced them to spend too much on presents as a consequence of their children’s pleas, opening up the debate about pester power and advertising’s role and responsibility.

Seasons’ greetings? Do you think that because of our multi-cultural society we should use the phrase “Seasons Greetings” rather than “Merry Christmas” as it may offend? The answer to this was a categorical “NO”, as almost of the shoppers wanted the traditional “Merry Christmas” to remain.