Yes, I know this is the December.. But did you notice all the people grumbling about Christmas decorations appearing in the supermarkets in August? What about all the companies advertising Halloween specials in September? If you’re reading this in January you’re almost certainly going to spot a Creme Egg before the month is out too.
There’s nothing wrong with being prepared…
Seasonal marketing has always been something we’ve planned well in advance. From national holidays to annual procurement or technology refresh cycles, a marketer’s sole goal is to hit the right people with the right message at the right time. Often, that means mixing all three by contextualising a message around a person and a point in time. Like aiming an ad for a Christmas turkey at mums watching Corrie. Or one for cloud-based CRM at a CIO arriving at San Francisco airport in October.
Hopefully you’ll agree that, particularly in the last decade, a number of factors have made marketing faster: on-demand printing, social media, digital video, digital signage and self-service ad portals. All these marketing innovations mean we can share our ideas faster and squeeze more campaigns into a shorter space of time.
Once, a yearly marketing cycle saw space to plan and execute a summer and Christmas campaign. Now it can be planned week-to-week, meaning we can hook onto every single event we can think of. New Year, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, Father’s Day, summer holidays, back to school, Halloween, bonfire night, and Thanksgiving are the easy ones. When you layer over industry specific events you could easily be doing a campaign a month, if not a fortnight.
A change in how we plan?
Campaigns are becoming smaller. Companies are using the same budget for 10 campaigns a year instead of three. Each one is more targeted and therefore (hopefully) more effective. But it’s much rarer to see the big breakthrough campaigns that everyone talks about (hence such a flurry of excitement over the Christmas TV ads from brands like M&S and John Lewis). Money just isn’t spent in such big chunks any more. We’ll see more creativity in marketing as companies scramble to come up with new ideas.
Marketing teams are also having to search for new ‘brand moments’. Halloween will get bigger (like it is in the US), along with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Saint Patrick’s Day is already a significant marketing moment, but surely George, Andrew and David are going to get a better look-in as brands look to expand their calendar of marketing opportunities. We’ll probably start celebrating Thanksgiving or Labour Day too. Just embrace it and hope we get granted another bank holiday.
Finally, stuff is going to happen well in advance. Marketing teams are getting slicker at pre-empting events and buying the space to make campaigns happen. Marketing is being compartmentalised, but the compartments are going to overlap due to the lack of space we have in the earth’s solar calendar. Get used to New Year sales in November, Christmas in July and Halloween in September. Stop grumbling about it and enjoy more opportunities to eat bad food. To celebrate the end of a fantastic year for marketing and for this magazine, I wish you all a Happy Easter.