Letters, Dec. 6, 2010

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A 'holiday' squabble in ad land

RE: "'Christmas' Winning War on Christmas in Marketing Messages" (AdAge.com, Nov. 18)

Beyond whatever group is promoting the "Holiday Spirit," it's good to see a little reversal by recognizing this is "Christmas" coming upon us. We've become androids to the politically correct mantra, attempting to marginalize this holiday season while sticking it to us about all the diversity we represent. If we subscribe to that very diversity, then the excitement, joy and recognition of "Christmas" is as important as all the elements of our diversity.

Marketers should relish in the same diversity that allows them a continuous field of retail opportunity -- no matter what faith or non-faith adhered.

There's nothing I hate more than aligning myself with a bunch of Jesus pushers, and you're fooling yourself if you don't think that Mr. Sharp's message has an underlying tone of complete exclusion. I'm all for tolerance, but I have been on the "Christmas" side of this war forever, because the only thing I hate more than exclusion is pandering, and that's how I've always seen the politically correct term, "holiday."

The fact is that most people in America celebrate Christmas. Thanks to marketing in general, it has become so commercialized and detached from its religious roots that it shouldn't bother anyone except maybe the fundamentalists (what irony!) that we want to call it Christmas. To me, it's a joke when we have to live in fear of using commercially appropriated imagery -- "No Santa Claus, that's too close to Christmas!" -- instead of just calling a spade a spade.

In my eyes, there's a huge difference between marketing Christmas and marketing Christ. I'm for the former, but once these guys win this war, you can bet they'll begin boycotting for the latter.

What a load of crap. [The AFA's Randy Sharp] said the group is not at all offended by Happy Hanukkah messages. Oh so glad to see he is "not offended." Politically correct means considerate and tolerant, something these thugs wrapped in the flag and religion just can't abide. So the sales don't apply to Jews, Muslims Hindus, Buddhists or atheists? War on Christmas? Stupid. The AFA wars on non-Christians. Why don't they insist the sales prices only apply to Christians? It's like those jerks wish you a Merry Christmas with an angry grin and a baseball bat behind their backs. I am so sick of fundamentalist rightwing entitlement. This is America, home of the free, people of all races and religions. Get used to it.

Not only is the meaning of Christmas not about shopping, it's not about exclusion. As a marketer and someone who celebrates Christmas, I find it ridiculous that my objective would ever be to marginalize people from feeling like a part of the holiday season.

I wonder if anyone at the American Family Association is aware of the sad irony of their fight to defend Christmas through boycotts of retailers who use "holiday" instead of "Christmas" in their marketing, through which the AFA becomes an active participant in the further secularization and commercialization of Christmas.

Yes, we should just call it Christmas. Because everyone who shops is shopping only for Christmas. There is no other reason they could be shopping there. Certainly no other holiday they could be shopping for.

Look, I have nothing against calling it a Christmas Shop. The majority of shoppers do celebrate Christmas. I get it. But if the store chooses to be all-inclusive, why is that a problem for some people?

Feel free to pretend this isn't thinly veiled prejudice if it helps you sleep better on Christmas Eve.

EU ban could set precedent

RE: "EU Proposes End to Branded Cigarettes," (AdAge.com, Dec. 1)

Cigarettes are a difficult product to defend. I have lost friends and relatives to lung cancer. I can understand the ban on advertising. But the packaging? Is this really going to stop one smoker from taking another puff? Is it the packaging that motivates anyone to take up smoking?

Yet, the most-abused substance, with the greatest cost in currency, human suffering and death is alcohol. And I'm pretty sure that's not going away anytime soon. Nor is the advertising and packaging of alcohol going away anytime soon, especially in Europe. Winemakers, distillers and drinkers would topple governments before uniform generic packaging would be required.

As a designer, my other fear is the cancerous spread of Helvetica which would -- without a doubt -- be the typeface selected for this generic packaging. That is reason enough to hope this idea dies.

I agree that this is a tough issue to tackle. But in a way, I do think that the packaging can drive non-smokers to try it (impact of color on emotions) and yes, it is a form of advertising which, according to the article, has already been banned, so I have to lean slightly in the direction that this action was justified. Do I think it is extreme? Absolutely. But still justified.

Here is my question, are they targeting cigarettes or the drug in them? If it's cigarettes, then this makes sense; if it's the drug, then why not force nicotine gum and patch and inhalant manufacturers to comply with the same laws?


In the custom-published section, "The PR Factor 2010," (AA, Nov. 29) there was a mistake in "The Digital Sweet Spot: Social Media and Public Relations" by Julie Liesse. Anne Tedesco is the VP-marketing of North America at British Airways, not Anne Thompson.

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