The signs are subtle at first. A supermarket quietly starts stocking their shelves with Christmas themed treats. A nearby restaurant is boasting that there are only a few remaining dates left in December to host your office party. Before you know it, Christmas carols are blaring from the speakers in all the stores.
With the tell-tale signs of the festive season comes the sound of people grumbling that Christmas seems to come earlier every year. But, does it really? A little digging into the history suggests that Westerners have been complaining about an earlier festive season for years. An article from 1954 has UK shopkeepers voicing their view that Santa Claus seems to be starting his shift too soon and should ‘stay out of town until close on Christmas.’ They go on to say that ‘if this sort of thing goes on, children will get fed up of Father Christmas long before Christmas comes.’
This objection is by no means the earliest. Research by American Professor Paul Collins suggests that early Christmas shopping, along with the adverts for it and complaints about it, date as far back as the Victorian era. In an interesting twist, US social activists at the turn of the 20th century actually campaigned in favour of early Christmas shopping to ease the burden on underpaid and under-age retail staff. Later in the century, enterprising retailers harnessed this campaigning spirit for the War effort, encouraging shoppers to do their bit by hitting the stores early to show their patriotism and soften the strain of transport and labour shortages. This was an approach employed during both World Wars and war in Vietnam.
Consumers leading the charge
It’s not just the US or the retailers who are leading the way however. Data released by Google Trends in 2017 showed that the UK public makes more Christmas-related searches than any other country in the world. The UK has topped this table for the last four years, taking over from Ireland which held the number one spot in 2012 and 2013, and who are now in second place. Slovakia, Italy and the Czech Republic follow, rounding out a European top five of the most Christmas-focused countries by Google search terms. The US came in sixth.
The data also shows that people are searching for festive topics increasingly earlier in the year. Google search results for Christmas-related terms in September and October have more than doubled in the last seven years. Matt Cooke, head of Google News Labs, told the BBC on the UK trends: “When you look at what people have been searching for online over the past decade, you can see the UK’s interest in all things relating to Christmas is greater than any other country, and we start looking for festive information earlier each year too. In 2016 more people used Google search to find information relating to Christmas than ever before – and search interest begins increasing as early as 1 July.”
First of July! Complaints about an early start to the festive season are usually directed at retailers or brands, but the revelation that consumers are leading the charge from this early certainly shines a new light on the debate.
The era of the epic Christmas ad
The anticipation of the season plays a big part in how we engage with Christmas, and nowhere more than in our own industry. We look forward to seeing high-quality, high-concept pieces of advertising showcase the sort of sophistication that we all now demand from our Christmas ads. We want to see a story, and we’re ready to be moved by it. We expect our heartstrings to be tugged and to feel the emotional pull of the most wonderful time of the year. This year’s holiday advertisements will start to air very soon, and the excitement around various retailers’ launches is now a firm fixture of many people’s festive experience.
Perhaps when the ads start being televised is the time when the grumbling can stop and the preparations can get underway? Of course, these creations don’t just come together overnight, they take careful and lengthy planning, with some large retailers’ ads a year in the making. In comparison with this, when we get to see the ad on our screens, it doesn’t seem quite so early after all.
Planning your Christmas deliveries
Whether you’re timing your Christmas shopping or launching a festive ad campaign the message is the same; getting the holiday season right needs careful planning and plenty of preparation.
At Adstream, it’s our job to assist brands and production companies through each stage of the advertising process: from initial concept to final delivery and everything in between. We want to help you make sure you’ve done all your planning in good time and you have all the support you need from us over Christmas – just like every other day of the year.
And if over the next few weeks you hear someone sighing that ‘it gets earlier every year’, you’ve now got the ammunition to pull them up on it. Tell them that their grumbling is well over a hundred years old and it’s now just as much of a festive tradition as Christmas jumpers, carol singing and roast turkey with all the trimmings!
If you’d like to learn more about the full range of benefits to your brand of working with the world’s first end-to-end advertising solution, talk to us about how we can help.