I saw my first Christmas ad last night.
My first reaction was that I musta done something stupid and slept through September and October…again. But, no. There is was. Let it be known that on August 26, with tempertures hitting over 100, the Christmas season began. (I remember when car salesmen used to have a “Christmas in July Sale” and dress like Santa Claus and stand in their parking lots, looking like the moe-rons.) But these guys were serious! There it was in all its green and red glory. Bells jingling. Kids riding down sleighs. Don’t ask me what it was for…it turned the channel.
My mind…and most of all, my pocketbook…isn’t ready ready for Christmas just yet.
It used to be that when Santa sleighed down the hill on a Norelco shaver to classic tune, “floating heads”, that the Christmas season had unofficially officially begun. Mom could break out the nick nacks and doo dads and start decorating the house. Now days, when I hear the Carol of the Bells and see the Lexus end of the year sale, I know Christmas is upon us. Korbel used to do the same to me…
Thinking back, the first big McDonald’s hit, Bob and I had wasn’t what we called a “reputation” ad. It was, in fact, a holiday promotion…for a peppermint sundae and egg nog shake. We shot the two spots in July up in Minneapolis with a wonderful crew from James Productions. The idea for the shake was simple, while out driving and looking at the Christmas lights with your family come into McDonald’s for a peppermint sundae. The other spot had to do with picking out a Christmas tree in the rain and slush and snow. McDonald’s loved them so much, they ran them for years. They were both very, very simple ideas that used the promotional ideas as the hero. (Funny side story: The director of photographer Julio Macat ended up getting the job as DP for Home Alone because director Chris Columbus and producer John Hughes loved the look of these commercials.)
CMO’s on more than one occasion have asked me if a company can build a brand with a promotion. I have always said yes, and pointed to these two spots to prove that point. But little did I know that when we started that trend about 20 years ago…