It's becoming a holiday tradition in its own right: Consumers complain as marketers seem to start running Christmas-shopping ads earlier each year. So, when do consumers think it's appropriate for such advertising to make its debut? Polling for AdweekMedia, sister publication of Sales & Marketing Management among members of LinkedIn finds many respondents in no rush to see it.
Just 8 percent of respondents said they think marketers should begin running such ads "after Labor day." A plurality, 42 percent, said “after Halloween” is appropriate, while 35 percent would rather marketers hold their fire until "after Thanksgiving." Then there were the 12 percent who wish marketers would “never” start to run Christmas-shopping ads. (For complete results of this poll, click here. And to participate in another ad-related LinkedIn poll for Adweek, click here.)
Men were much more inclined than women to pick "never" as their response (14 percent vs. 5 percent) and were correspondingly less likely to pick Halloween as suitable starting date (41 percent vs. 49 percent).
Respondents in the 55-plus age bracket were the most likely to say it’d be all right with them if such ads began after Labor Day, with 11 percent voicing that opinion. But they were also the most likely to say such advertising should begin until after Thanksgiving (47 percent). Forty-four percent of the poll’s 18-24-year-olds and the same proportion of its 25-34as picked Halloween as an acceptable starting time.
In a breakdown of the findings by job function, people in "engineer" roles were especially likely to say "never," with 28 percent doing so, vs. 6 percent of those in "marketing" roles and 7 percent of those in "sales" positions. Christmas ads are often viewed as an intrinsically uncreative chore for agency creative people, so maybe they’re eager to get it over with: Half of the poll's "creative" respondents picked "after Labor Day" (5 percent) or "after Halloween" (45 percent. Then again, 15 percent chose "never."
A number of participants in the poll added comments to their votes, with many of them deploring what they regard as a too-early start to the marketing onslaught. "If Christmas marketing begins too early it destroys the whole holiday—it stops being something to look forward too and becomes something we endure." Along the same lines: "The ads starting so early has the opposite effect on me as a consumer. I never buy the things that have been on ads for months. Please let us enjoy each holiday (Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving) in peace without the assault of Christmas advertising."
Others, though, were more indulgent toward marketers. "I think you have to plant the seed sooner than later," wrote one. Another commenter, noting the importance of Black Friday (i.e., the day after Thanksgiving) to Christmas-gift marketers, said Thanksgiving would be too late a starting date for such ads and instead chose "after Halloween."
Alluding to how bad last year's holiday-shopping season was, coming right after the financial meltdown in the fall, one commenter was willing to cut marketers some slack and see them "promote the message of the holidays a little earlier this year." Another had this helpful suggestion: "Why not start on 12/26 for the following year ... that's when all the sales are. Buy early for next year!"
And one man was indifferent to when such ads start: "Truly does not matter to me. I am always shopping like a crazy something on Christmas Eve, ads do not play into my hurried decisions."
— Nielsen Business Media