Managing The Christmas Creep

Thanksgiving is over, we all settled into our food comas and woke up early the next morning to bust the doors in at our favorite retailers. And with that, The Holiday Season has officially begun.

But for many marketers, Christmas came early this year. In a movement that has not gone unnoticed by consumers, retailers have been rolling out Christmas ads, merchandise, and decking their aisles for the last month or longer. While the “Christmas Creep” is certainly not new this year, many consumers expressed the feeling that this year marketers had gone too far.

It all started when Target rolled out its first Christmas ad a full three weeks before Halloween(!). Consumers ran to Twitter and Facebook to express their distaste for the early ad with responses from “I’m absolutely appalled that you are airing Christmas commercials already,” to “Please let us enjoy one holiday at a time. Thank you.” Target even began responding with this message: “We’re sorry to hear about your disappointment. We’ve shared your feedback with our Broadcast Media executives for review.” (Ad Age, Retail Reversal: Target Unwraps Holiday Ads Early)

But Target isn’t the only retailer caught in the Christmas Creep. Canadian Drug Store Shoppers pulled Christmas music from their stores at the beginning of November after customers began complaining it was just too early. This move actually may have generated some loyalty among their customers, who appreciated feeling like a company was listening to them, and swimming against the tide of an early Christmas season. (CNN, It’s too early for Christmas music, Canadian drugstore chain says).

Christmas Creep has been credited to “Corporate America Greed,” but it isn’t restricted to America. British Department Store John Lewis released their Christmas ad on November 9th, kicking off the Holiday Season officially for most of the country. (AdWeek, Ad of the Day: John Lewis It isn’t Christmas in Britain until the retailer says so, this time with a snowman in love)

It’s a tricky time of the year for marketers who are looking to pull in the big bucks during a season that accounts for 20% of their yearly sales (AdAge), while not alienating those customers who are not ready for the season to be here quite yet. Every year, we must ask ourselves? Where is the line, and how close can we get to it?


     Written By: Emily Peters

     University of Minnesota – Advertising/Strategic Communication

     Brand Ambassador


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