Yesterday, I talked about “the holidays” and my discovery. You can go back and read it if you want, but here’s the part that you’ll need to know for today’s post.
So, it looks like I have to tweak my initial hypothesis.
“In the days leading up to Christmas, I will be exploring this notion that marketing and PR is “soulless” in holiday themes. We’ll look at
holidaymovies, television shows and books and present them as case studies.”
I will change the word “holiday” to Christmas, and I have a thought or two about my discovery.
It’s my best, unscientific guesses that communications pros are only portrayed as “soulless” in Christmas films, books and shows, and not other holiday offerings is:
- There are very little “other” holiday films, books, and shows. At least in the U.S..
- Other holidays have held onto the true meanings of the celebration.
- A majority of the other holidays do not focus on material possessions.
Today’s Talking Points
Let’s take each of my three points, and see what we come up with.
1. There are very little “other holiday films, books, and shows. At least in the U.S.
I’m not the only one that has noticed that there is a shortage of movies about other holidays. Elizabeth Logan, a contributing writer for Glamour magazine, sums it up in her article “Dear Hollywood: Why Are There No Good Hanukkah Movies?”
[there’s] “lots and lots and lots of Americans (myself included) who are not Christian still celebrate an essentially secular version of Christmas, and there’s no reason to pretend that’s not the case. But if I did want to see a movie with my friends or family about a winter holiday that isn’t Christmas or New Year’s, I’d be, uh, shit outta luck.”
The literary world isn’t much better. I went to Barnes and Noble’s website and typed in “Hanukkah fiction” and got only 13 results, and a couple of them weren’t really Hanukkah related, but more geared toward Christmas or a blending of the two. Did the same for Kwanzaa, and the result was even more dismal: zero.
I then tried the same thing on Amazon. At first I thought my search for “Hanukkah fiction for adults” was a bit more promising when 87 choices popped up. But, as I scrolled down through the first few pages, I noticed that many of the choices were children’s books or non-fiction books. There were only 16 results for “Kwanzaa fiction for adults” and half of those were children’s books and one was titled “Santa’s Kwanzaa“.
At this point, I don’t think it’s necessary to even check television shows. The result would pretty much be the same as films and books.
Now that we’ve established that there are relatively few offerings about other holidays, we can move on to point #2.
2. Other holidays have held onto the true meanings of the celebration.
Every holiday seems to evolve into incorporating secular aspects at some point in time. Some holidays borrow from the culture or even other religious rites.
But for the most part, Christmas is the one that is the most fractured. There are two complete different Christmas celebrations. There’s the more traditional Christmas that focuses on the celebration and worship of the birth of Jesus Christ as savior of the world. And then there’s the secular Christmas that is celebrated without the religious focus.
The History Channel’s website has an excellent article about how this evolution of Christmas changed during the 1800’s. It stemmed, ironically, from a poem written by an Episcopal minister that we all know today as “The Night Before Christmas“. With the Department store marketers, newspapers and even the Salvation Army cashed in on the character that “changed Christmas forever” by taking the focus off from Christ and placing it on gift giving and charitable acts. Santa Claus is probably the longest-running, most successful, public relations campaign that ever was.
Which brings me to my third point:
3. A majority of the other holidays do not focus on material possessions.
Yes, it’s true that some of the other holidays incorporate gifts. But, I argue that for the most part, the gifts are second to the rituals and meaning of the holidays.
But it’s the opposite for a lot of people with Christmas: the gifts are the primary focus. For a lot of people, the holiday doesn’t include the religious rituals at all.
Despite the celebration and gift-giving of Christmas, people are desperate to find meaning in all of the money spending and greed that comes with the holiday. Instead of returning to the religious aspect of Christmas, people look for someone to blame for the feelings that they often experience this time of year.
And this is where. I believe, that they find it easy to make marketers, public relations managers and other communications professionals “the new scrooges” of Christmas films, books and shows.
It was communications pros who took a poem and used it for their benefit, making people believe that they needed to purchase all sorts of items in order to have a proper Christmas celebration. And every year since Santa Claus became a public relations/marketing campaign, communications pros look for new ways to sell ideas and items to the people.
Watch Sinbad have a meltdown in this clip from Jingle All the Way, where he rages against everyone, including advertisers.
A lot of people feel this way about Christmas. And they blame communications pros for pushing and peddling Christmas. But instead of resisting the message and yet again changing the focus of Christmas, they look for the bad guys.
Much like today, in Dickens’ day, Scrooge was created because of the poor economy and extreme income inequality. Dickens cast him as a business man because it was the rich business men that oppressed the people.
Today, we lament over the greed of Black Friday, yet we still flood the stores and internet as early as Thanksgiving. I even know people who start Christmas shopping in September, and a couple that pick up gifts for the following Christmas during the after-Christmas sales.
It’s too hard for people to break from the Christmas buying habit. It’s much easier to just blame the communications pros.
But, there’s hope.
All of these Christmas films, shows and books that portray communications pros as the bad guy of the holiday, in desperate need of reforming, may one day come to an end when another profession takes Scrooge’s place.
After all, the one good thing communications pros are good at is giving the people what they want.
Thanks for following “My Christmas PR Wish” series. Tomorrow and Tuesday I wrap it up with my top 10 books, shows and films that portray communications pros as “Scrooges” that I haven’t already mentioned.