Dec. 13 – Christmas Commercialism Part II

landscape-1448983725-screen-shot-2015-12-01-at-102800-amWe’re about halfway through our countdown and ever so close to that magical day that is Christmas! And since these posts seem to be getting longer and longer, here’s a nice breezy one to save me some valuable time.

We’re often told and reminded over and over by Christmas specials that the spirit of Christmas is giving, being with one’s family, love, and even some mention that Jesus guy. I’m not here to suggest Christmas isn’t any of those things, but let’s not deny ourselves that a big part of Christmas is the commercialism. Christmas has a presence unlike no other holiday, at least in the US. It’s why when I hear about this so-called War on Christmas that I shake my head – there is no war on Christmas. First of all, to refer to something as trivial as how others celebrate a holiday as a war does a disservice to actual war. And second, it’s insane! Christmas permeates our society so strongly that you can’t escape it. I love Christmas and I love it when companies acknowledge it, but I sure as hell don’t expect it. The whole Happy Holidays vs Merry Christmas store greeting? It’s capitalism! Retailers and other service industries just want to be inclusive so everyone that comes into their business feels like they were acknowledged in some individual way. It’s not a new invention and they’ve been doing it for decades because they think it makes good business sense, not out of fear of offending people. If you believe there is a war against Christmas then you’re an idiot.

war-on-christmas-vetCompanies often go all out for Christmas because of its dominance and importance. Retailers live and die on the Christmas season. This year alone could make or break the venerable retail toy giant Toys R Us which filed for bankruptcy in September. If the returns for the holidays don’t come in at a certain level then the store could fold for good, and that’s sad. The only big box toy store in my area is Toys R Us, and it’s been around since I was a kid. I still can remember going into that store and knowing the quickest path to the ever important action figure aisle. Back then we never knew when a new toy line would hit stores so it was a surprise every time. I hope my kids get to enjoy something similar for the duration of their childhood. As convenient as online shopping is, there’s still no replacing the feeling of walking around a toy store.

Since Christmas is such a big business, everyone wants a piece of the pie. Candy companies will change the color of their wrappers for Christmas or shape their candy in something Christmas themed. Coca-Cola puts Santa on its cans, and even restaurants like Denny’s make Christmas themed food. Even companies that don’t alter their product in some way might still create a Christmas themed commercial as a way to capitalize on everyone’s Christmas high and hopefully boost sales. At the very least, they might make a memorable commercial and be featured on a blog like this one. Like these next few commercials. And if you think I missed an important one, check out Part I from a few years ago as I may have mentioned it there (such as the ever important Fruity Pebbles commercial).

Full disclosure:  I’m writing this before Halloween has even taken place, because I could never find time to do all of this in 25 actual days, so the links in these YouTube videos could break or get blocked. I’ll do my best to fix them and keep them active as best I can.

The Hershey Kiss – “We Wish You A Merry Christmas”

This one is nice and simple – Christmas colored Hershey Kisses are arranged to resemble a Christmas tree and with each note of the song one pops up and “jingles” like a bell. Surprisingly, it’s now one of the longest running Christmas commercials ever and yet it doesn’t feel that old, maybe because it wasn’t on my 1987 VHS of recorded Christmas commercials. The actual candy, a Hershey Kiss, kind of sucks as it’s just a lump of cheap milk chocolate, but I somehow every year manage to end up with a sleeve of these things every Christmas.

Garmin – Give A-Give-A Garmin

Not all Christmas commercials are created equal or remembered for the right reasons. This one is the rare Christmas themed commercial that brings me no joy. It’s so damn annoying, and Garmin is basically obsolete now anyways because cell phones have replaced stand-alone GPS. I hope the people in this commercial never found what they were looking for.

Milk Bone Dog Biscuits

An oldie, and how often do you see Milk Bone commercials anymore? I don’t even have a dog, so I don’t know if Milk Bone even exists, or why I care so much about this commercial. It reminds me of the classic Oreo Christmas commercial, only with a dog replacing the kid, and he comes downstairs to check out his loot. A really bad puppet dog leg is used to make it look like he’s shaking his Christmas gift, and inside is a glorious box of Milk Bones. Merry Christmas, pal, Merry Christmas indeed.

Honey Nut Cheerios – Scrooge

Scrooge is obviously synonymous with Christmas, so he makes numerous appearances at Christmas time in various places. Mostly sitcoms. This commercial puts the bee, who I think was once named Buzz, in a Bob Cratchit role as he nervously approaches Scrooge. Scrooge is his usual salty, Christmas hating self, but a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios thaws his icy heart.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch

There’s nothing particularly remarkable about this one, except it existed when there were three chefs instead of just one (though now I think there’s none), and it appeared on my Christmas tape. There was a contest attached to it to win a Santa Bear, Mrs. Bear, and their airplane The Santa Bear Express tacked on at the end. I did not win that contest, and probably never entered, but decades later you bet your ass I bought those bears on eBay and gifted them to my sister at Christmas.

M&M’s Holidays

Back in the day, M&M’s went so far as to change their name at Christmas to simply Holidays, and the branding was used for Easter as well. They were just red and green M&M’s with little Christmas trees on them instead of the letter “M.” Now, they just release bags of the candy in red and green, but they still have special packaging so it’s okay. This commercial is cute though, even if it depicts a young girl essentially bribing Santa to get him to bring her everything on her monstrous list. By the looks of things it seems to be working.

 


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