After being bombarded with midterms left and right last week, I finally found a second of momentary peace, and shamelessly spent it surfing through Youtube for amusing cat videos to relieve me of my stress. But before I could enjoy Maru the Cat in all his glory, a video of K-Mart’s controversial “Show Your Joes” Christmas commercial appeared on the side list. As the six men wearing metallic boxers gyrated their hips side to side to the tune of “Jingle Bells,” I could not help but feel a bit disturbed. Granted, the video is hilarious for the first minute or so. However, I can see past its guise as a spirited commercial to realize that it is merely a gimmick to encourage early-bird Christmas shoppers to buy products sooner. K-Mart is not the only company responsible for airing countless Christmas advertisements prior to the holiday season. Other perpetrators, like Best Buy, Nissan, JCPenney and Macy’s, are also accomplices to the phenomenon notoriously known as “The Christmas Creep.”
With Thanksgiving around the corner, it seems ridiculous to immediately jump into all the commotion associated with frantic Christmas preparations and shopping. Yet, that does not stop Starbucks from selling holiday-themed beverages like spicy gingerbread lattes and sweet caramel brulee lattes. Nor does it prevent Dunkin’ Donuts from vending cups of peppermint mocha coffee along with star-shaped doughnuts. Evidently, pre-seasonal marketing of Christmas products has become a common trend that has found its way onto television, radio broadcasts, social media and even onto the campus of Stony Brook University. Sadly, “The Christmas Creep” will keep inching in earlier and earlier with each passing year without our consent. Before long, we will be condemned to watch Christmas merriment engulf our communities by luring people in with “doorbuster deals” on stockings and “seasonal discounts” on flashing lights as soon as summer subsides into autumn. Now, our respect for time and developed consciences do not control when the holiday season commences; Christmas starts when large companies tell us it starts.
Apparently, experiencing over three months of Christmas is not an event the public looks forward to. It should be obvious to major companies that the untimely promotion of Christmas brings resentment, not joy. Then why do companies continue to spend extravagant amounts of money commercializing Christmas when it clearly irks most of their “valued customers”? Surprisingly, several factors come into play, motivating businesses to pay millions of dollars and use numerous resources to market products before the Christmas season. First of all, companies want to expand the interval of time when Christmas sales occur. Through frequent and prevalent advertising, companies increase their chances of attracting customers. In fact, a few students at Stony Brook University can testify that continuous advertising on television and online encouraged them to buy Christmas gifts already. Following this logic, sales related to Christmas account for most of the revenue made by businesses between fall and winter. Therefore, it is critical for businesses to hype up the availability and quality of their products as soon as possible. Finally, Christmas is a holiday that is easy for companies to commercialize, for it has more adherents and carries a greater spiritual message than Halloween and Thanksgiving. Halloween builds its popularity upon evoking the fears of those who don colorful costumes in pursuit of tricks or treats at night. Thanksgiving is a Western holiday traditionally celebrated within the boundaries of the United States of America. In contrast, Christmas possesses a sacred type of importance that allows its meaning to be renowned throughout the world. Thus, companies are able to exploit the globalization and sanctity of Christmas to increase revenues. As a result, businesses foolishly manipulate people into believing that their love is paralleled by the value of their gifts. After all, according to K-Mart, how else can I show someone my love other than presenting him with a pair of sparkling boxers I purchased for $8.99?
Essentially, in the eyes of major companies, we are nothing but consumers. We are simply walking reservoirs of cash that businesses can drink from as long as they offer us promises of their outlandish deals. As sad as it is to say, companies do not tell us how special we are like our Hallmark greeting cards do. We all constitute a mass of people who will inevitably fall victim to “The Christmas Creep” one by one. The true meaning of Christmas has dwindled thanks to excessive marketing. Premature Christmas advertisements are responsible for this mess. They are airing when you’re sleeping. They are airing when you’re awake. They are airing whether you’re bad or good, so don’t bother being good for goodness’ sake! We should not suppress our frustration over the immoderate commercialization of Christmas by major businesses. Instead, we should vocalize our outrage about the depreciation of Christmas because the message of large corporations to the public is clear: You do not own the product. The product owns you.