In Defense of Early Christmas Advertising

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It’s mid September in Texas and tank tops and iced coffees are still all the rage. Walk outside of Duncan/Day Advertising’s offices in Plano and the temperature is a brisk 90º.

The idea of throwing on a Santa hat and sitting by a roasting fire is sure to make any Texan shudder. The holidays couldn’t seem further away, yet we’ve already got Christmas advertising campaigns rolling out.

But the warm weather here in Dallas hasn’t stopped Kmart. The national retailer debuted the year’s first holiday ad earlier this week – showcasing the store’s free layaway program.

The popular or most visible opinion seems to be that this spot is running far too early. Consumers have rushed to the company’s Facebook page to voice their displeasure, some even going so far as to use the dreaded ALL CAPS.

“LIKE THIS POST IF YOU THINK IT IS WAY TOO FLIPPIN EARLY FOR KMART TO BE PUSHING CHRISTMAS COMMERCIALS ON TV ALREADY!?!? SERIOUSLY THIS IS JUST OUT OF CONTROL,” writes one Facebook user.

The company is taking the proactive approach in responding to the ad’s critics.

“We’re just excited for the holidays!” replies the retailer in one cheerful comment.

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The over commercialization of the holidays and subsequent early arrival of decorations actually has a name – the Christmas Creep. Though many shake their collective fists at an October wreath, the Christmas Creep has its fans.

“Despite the loud sighs and eye rolling that usually occurs when shoppers see Christmas decorations in stores parked next to an aisle of Halloween candy, shoppers are taking advantage of the layaway programs, the toy reservation schemes and early discounting as a way to soften the holiday’s blow to the household budget,” says CNBC’s Christina Cheddar Berk.

While an early holiday spot is likely to draw some online ire, it’s nothing that retailers, advertisers and marketers aren’t used to. In the age of message boards and social media, the comment section, especially on a brand’s Facebook page, can be a scary place – no matter the time of year.

If you’re Kmart, the trade off is that your layaway program and early planning speaks directly to those customers already making up their limited holiday budget. Ideally, the ad keeps Kmart top-of-mind for those customers and gets them in the doors early – a reward well worth the risk of ruffling the feathers of a few grinches.

(H/T Adage, CNBC)

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