My blog is about exchanging ideas and best practices on all things marketing and communications related. I'm interested in your thoughts, feedback, additions, arguments and point of view.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Are Retailers taking back "Christmas?"

Back in the summer months, marketing folks across the country were busily planning the end of year retail season and asking a question to each other and their agencies– are we wishing a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” to customers this year? According to a survey by Rasmussen Reports this year, retailers shouldn't be shy about wishing customers a "Merry Christmas" after all.

And this public sentiment seems to be filtering into our seasonal messaging. So far this year, I’ve noticed the word Christmas being used more frequently in advertising, most notably in ads by Leon’s Canadian Tire, and Staples (in the background music anyway). Is it just me, or are we returing to the more traditional interpretation of December 25th?

Scott Krugman, a spokesman for the National Retail Federation, said the "Merry Christmas" versus "Happy Holidays" debate has been around for a few years now. After asking 1,000 adults in mid-November which they preferred, they found that 67 percent of adults prefer the Christmas-specific greeting in seasonal advertising, while only 26 percent want to see "Happy Holidays."

Examples of US retailers from seasons past who opted for the more secular term come to mind. In 2005, Target stores ditched the use of the word “Christmas” in their advertising materials, but then decided to resume using it after an immense public outcry. Also in 2005, Wal-Mart forbade its employees from wishing customers “Merry Christmas,” opting for the more generic holiday terms. That decision was protested by religious groups including the Catholic League, which boycotted the retail giant. Wal-Mart announced during the following season that it would return to using the word “Christmas.”

Regardless of what term we prefer, it's the idea of Christmas that should matter the most to Canadians, so who cares what we call it?

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