Snowflakes ground Santa, the latest vic­tim of ‘de-Christ­mas-iza­tion’

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Jen Haberkorn

Santa Claus has been largely kicked to the curb in ad­ver­tis­ing this year, the vic­tim of de­sign trends and the de-Christ­mas-iza­tion of hol­i­day shop­ping.

Santa’s trendier rel­a­tive, the snowflake, is the star of hol­i­day mar­ket­ing this year. Wal-Mart, Tar­get, Best Buy and Home De­pot, among oth­ers have cen­tered at least some of their ad­ver­tis­ing art around snowflakes.

“Some of this is prob­a­bly a re­ac­tion to what hap­pened last year about peo­ple be­ing sen­si­tive,” said Mike Gatti, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Re­tail Ad­ver­tis­ing and Mar­ket­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, a di­vi­sion of the Na­tional Re­tail Fed­er­a­tion in the Wash­ing­ton, D.C. “There is more snow and trees than Santa Claus and re­li­gious sym­bols.”

But he added that hol­i­day-spe­cific ad­ver­tise­ments may not show up un­til closer to Christ­mas, Kwan­zaa and Hanukkah, which starts Dec. 15.

For the past few years, re­tail­ers have faced boy­cotts from fam­ily and re­li­gious groups be­cause they don’t in­struct em­ploy­ees to say “Merry Christ­mas.” Re­tail­ers said they were try­ing to avoid of­fend­ing non-Chris­tians by say­ing “Happy Hol­i­days” or leav­ing the de­ci­sion to em­ploy­ees’ dis­cre­tion. This year, re­tail­ers such as Wal-Mart and Macy’s have said they’re go­ing to use more “Merry Christ­mas” in ad­ver­tis­ing.

Re­tail­ers have turned to snowflakes for a variety of rea­sons: be­cause they’re ap­pro­pri­ate for the time of year, can be used longer than ads that nat­u­rally die on Dec. 26, and are not po­ten­tially of­fen­sive.

“It’s not con­tro­ver­sial and that could be why [we’re see­ing more of it], you’re just not sure,” Mr. Gatti said. “We know that the re­tail­ers have gone back to the staff and said you could say, ‘Merry Christ­mas.’ Why would the ads go in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion?”

The move to­ward the snowflake isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a slap at Santa Claus, Christ­mas, Hanukkah, warm weather cli­mates or any­thing else.

In gen­eral, ad­ver­tis­ing can be cycli­cal, Mr. Gatti said. Cer­tain col­ors and de­signs be­come trendy and tend to ap­pear in a lot of ad­ver­tis­ing. This year, the snowflake is the big win­ner.

“All of the de­sign­ers don’t copy each other,” Mr. Gatti said, “but even on the TV ads, you’re see­ing a lit­tle bit of it, too — the same­ness.”

Santa hasn’t lost all of his en­dorse­ment deals. He can be found in the back­ground of some hol­i­day guides and his Christ­mas tree is in­cluded in the back­ground of sev­eral re­tail­ers’ ad­ver­tise­ments. He still makes an oc­ca­sional ap­pear­ance sell­ing M&M candy on television and on Macy’s Web site.

At Best Buy, Santa makes an ap­pear­ance in one of its com­mer­cials, but the fo­cus of the mar­ket- ing cam­paign is the idea of a gift.

“Cer­tainly we ac­knowl­edge the time frame we’re in, giv­ing gifts and the hol­i­day sea­son,” said Kelly Groehler, a Best Buy spokes­woman. “From a mar­ket­ing stand­point, we’ve gone with ‘wrap up the wow’ — that it’s go­ing to be a great gift.”

One ma­jor ex­cep­tion is Co­caCola, which has brought Santa Claus back in force for its 75th birth­day. He had largely taken a back seat dur­ing the last few years in fa­vor of Coke’s win­ter po­lar bears, though he has al­ways been on the com­pany’s hol­i­day bot­tles and in se­lect ad­ver­tise­ments, spokes­woman Susan McDer­mott said.

“Last year in par­tic­u­lar, there was more fo­cus on the po­lar bear and less fo­cus on Santa,” she said. “This year, he’s all over the place.”

Santa hasn’t been on a television com­mer­cial for Coke, which is largely cred­ited with pop­u­lar­iz­ing to­day’s im­age of the jolly old man, since 2001.

But for his 75th year, Coke has put its orig­i­nal im­age of Santa — done in 1931 by Had­don Sund­blom — on dis­play at Jazz at Lin­coln Cen­ter con­cert hall in New York.

The com­pany is not run­ning any hol­i­day television com­mer­cials this year — a move a spokes­woman says is at­trib­uted to the short time span they can be played. But she says Santa isn’t go­ing any­where.

“Santa is an icon as­so­ci­ated with our brand dur­ing the hol­i­day,” Ms. McDer­mott said. “We have ab­so­lutely no in­ten­tion of stop­ping that ever.”

Mr. Claus could not be reached for com­ment.

As­so­ci­ated Press

You can’t sit on a snowflake’s lap: Sa­vanna Sow­ders, 7, right, gives hints to her brother, Dylan Sow­ders, 3, as Santa Claus takes note of their Christ­mas list in Henderson, Ky. on Dec. 5.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.