As PR pros it may be a little easier for us to get caught up in all the commercialism of Christmas. Even Charlie Brown, a well-meaning people-pleaser got carried away. Unavoidably, the holiday season accounts for a large part of the year’s revenue for many of the retailers and this is especially true if you consider the season to begin on Black Friday. As such, many companies put the pressure on their PR people to make their product the best-selling one of the year. We try, we’ll admit that much, but although we can bring the horse to water and showcase the product for the whole world to see, we cannot force it to drink. It is bad enough that the general populace is left with a bad taste in their mouth when they see the retailers as taking advantage of the one time in the year when people are encouraged to be selfless and give. Alas, c’est la vie, but we can at least say with a clean conscience that the retailers generally offer discounts during this time.
Christmas always brings out a PR “unicorn”, some product that inevitably becomes popular and sells out. Aside from bringing us the occasional viral video of shoppers fighting over a psychotic laughing Elmo or beanie babies, this fad always puzzles every marketer in how something like that could take the season by storm. Even with Michael Bublé, who only seems to come out every Christmas, we know what to expect and aren’t disappointed when it is the same year after year. Maybe it is a carefully crafted PR plan where a company creates a limited number of items and strategically positions them in locations to quickly sell out. Once sold out then a quick pitch to the media creates the illusion that it is popular and drives demand straight to the producer because, afterall, it is “sold out” and retailers don’t carry the product anymore. Or maybe I am just too cynical for all things marketing and these products do somehow have a je ne sais qua about them that induces buyers to get them. I am still suspicious, however, and can attest that I personally know no one who has purchased a Hatchimal this year.
In any case, Charlie Brown would be the one to stress out about getting the Hatchimal or Elmo. It is a problem of being too nice and trying to please everyone. Fortunately for him, he had a Linus to comfort him and remind him of what Christmas really started from and why. If you know a Charlie Brown, be their Linus and use those communication skills so valuable to our profession to help spread the message and to bring men good cheer.
Merry Christmas from all of us at INK!