November 26, 2008

The Holiday Hierarchy

Is it me, or are we transitioning immediately from Halloween to Christmas? Just when the last Trick-or-Treater of the night walks away from my door step, K-mart busts out the 15 foot inflatable snow globe. Are we skipping something? Yes, I think it is called Thanksgiving.

According to a recent study by the CDC, 34% of Americans are overweight. You would think Thanksgiving would be a marketers dream. Shelves should be stocked with bite size packages of stuffing for ‘Thank’-or-Treaters, freezers full of turkeys to carve and place on our door steps, 15 foot inflatable gravy boats—a pilgrim at the mall taking pictures with your screaming kids. Well, maybe next year…

Let’s face it, Thanksgiving does not get enough credit. How did the rest of our holidays become so commercial, leaving Thanksgiving in the dust? I have a few theories:

1.No Brand Persona
Santa, Cupid, Easter bunny—these are all characters that add a story and pizzazz to their respective holidays. The turkeys’ life story never has a happy ending. This is not a story you read your children before bed. Maybe we could add a gift giving Pilgrim to the mix.

2.Lack of buy in from children
What do children love about holidays? Free candy on Halloween, Toys for Christmas, a basket of goodies on Easter morning, and notes from classmates on Valentine’s Day. For children, Thanksgiving is just another meal. No gifts, no candy, no fun.

3.Minimal merchandising opportunities
How many turkey figurines can you have before your home décor begins to resemble a zoo gift shop? We need more characters, symbols, and colors for Thanksgiving. Side dishes don’t count. There is really only one product to market for Thanksgiving: food. You can buy food ANY day of the year. Luster=lost.

But most importantly…

4. Calendar Crowding
Halloween, Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, New Year’s—all within three months. I call for a calendar reorganization. Any holiday preceding Christmas automatically gets overshadowed. Columbus Day really drew the short straw. If we move Thanksgiving to April, I think we would begin Turkey shopping in February.

I will not be rushed into Christmas this year, and I hope you will stop and smell the yams as well. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Time with family, tradition, relaxation, football—but most importantly, the FOOD! I wait all year for this meal and I am not going to leave the table early to decorate the Christmas tree. Happy Thanksgiving!

Contributed by Laine Beyerl

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