I wondered if it was just me…or if holiday TV commercials were appearing even earlier this year.  It was literally the day after Halloween when I noticed what was clearly a holiday commercial – of the Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa ilk…not Thanksgiving turkey – already being aired.  It struck me: are these commercials appearing earlier than usual this year?

So, I explored online and learned of a concept called Christmas Creep which is the trend of advertising starting earlier and earlier this time of year.  You may have recognized like me that this is being Judeo-Christian in its labeling.  But, let’s be frank, sales efforts do not discriminate so we should technically call it Holiday Creep instead.

Anyhow, the concept of promoting products for the holidays earlier and earlier has apparently been a phenomenon since the 80’s.  I assumed others noticed the encroaching timing thing like me and I’m certain I’ve had conversations with others about it over the years.  But now we have a nice name for it to aid our discussions.

Given this handy label, I wondered if there was a resource out there that tracked on the timing of these early entrants in holiday promotion.  There really isn’t one.  But I did find some nice analysis by an observant marketing writer in the UK: Marketing Week article.  She breaks it down by various retailers so when you read about Morrisons, M&S, John Lewis, and Sainsbury’s you’ll have learned the names of some major chains in the UK if you’re not already familiar.

These findings, as an example, are from a couple of years ago.  But given that this Holiday Creep trend has been continuing since the 80’s, it’s still useful comparative information.  What I found interesting is how one store, Sainsbury’s, waits until after Armistice Day before barraging us with ads.  Seems like a proper guideline to me.  Let’s start a new movement: No Holiday Commercials before Armistice Day (or Veterans Day in the U.S.).

It would be nice to establish some guidelines to keep Holiday Creep from getting even creepier. Perhaps major advertisers will come together one day and give us a break with such an agreement. Doubtful.

We’d like to hear your thoughts on holiday commercial timing, so add a comment.

Mark Salow, Marketing Consultant