Life is cyclical for marketing professionals. Each February, I am filled with excitement and pride in my profession as new Super Bowl ads are rolled out, and, conversely, each December I cringe as I watch and listen to the parade of commercials aimed at informing people about all the things they simply cannot live without, or must give to loved ones if they truly want to demonstrate their yuletide affection.
When I became a mother, this December ritual became even more of a pain point for me.
Perhaps my child is the product of her generation, perhaps of her upbringing, or perhaps of her mother’s chosen line of work. Whatever the reason, she is the most brand-savvy kid I have ever known. From the earliest age, she could recognize logos, recite taglines and sing jingles with the best of them. When she was barely two, she bounded into the den and announced, “Mom!!! We HAVE to buy a juicer if you want me to be healthy, and we have to act now, because supplies are limited.” Apparently, the macroeconomic concept of scarcity is not lost on toddlers.
This year’s Christmas list, which is about a mile long, includes such favorites as dolls and games, but it also boasts a Pillow Pet, a Happy Napper, a Blanket Buddy and a mini Pillow Pet (while scarcity is understood, overabundance and redundancy are not factors), as well as a stainless steel wallet designed to withstand the weight of a truck (to protect her credit cards?).
The lesson here for marketers is that if you have a cute song, colorful images and air time on Sprout, Nick Jr. or the Disney Channel, your audience is ripe for the picking. All you need to add to the mix is a guilty parent or some overzealous grandparents, and you can jingle all the way to the bank.
As for me, my daughter and I have long chats about the true meaning of Christmas, the value of giving of oneself rather than buying something and the concept that it is better to give than to receive. Not surprisingly, we’ve also been through an in-depth exploration of other macroeconomic principles, such as supply and demand, price, opportunity cost and prioritization. Kind of Charles Dickens meets Adam Smith…
So, on behalf of all my fellow marketers, I extend a heartfelt apology for our part in the commercialization of the season. While I do hope Santa is good to you and yours, more importantly, I hope your supplies of the true joys of the season — love, peace and joy — are never limited.