The Christmas Creep: if you haven’t heard the phrase, it might sound like a hip dance that you probably shouldn’t show off at the office holiday party. But it’s an actual phenomenon that causes many consumers to cringe. When boxes of multi-colored ornaments and pre-lit trees appear in stores at the same time as back-to-school supplies, that’s the Christmas Creep. When Kmart premieres its layaway holiday commercial 100 days before December 25th, that’s the Christmas Creep. And when TV stations roll out a line-up of their holiday programming via Twitter before Halloween, that’s the Christmas Creep.

It’s no surprise that, according to a poll by data personalization firm RichRelevance, 71% of Americans are annoyed by the phenomenon. So how can brands reach consumers who are already so overwhelmed with holiday advertising by December 1st that they’re ready to go full Grinch? Here are a few important points to keep in mind when it comes to seasonal marketing:

Make it Emotional  
For many, the winter holidays are the one time of year they make the trip home to visit loved ones and family. It’s a moment of nostalgia, a few days to reflect on the past, as well as the past year. And there’s nothing like an inspiring emotional ad or feel-good campaign to melt the hearts of consumers. Take this recent commercial from London’s Heathrow Airport, which features two elderly teddy bears navigating their way through the terminals and to the arrival gate. It sweetly tells a story about coming home for the holidays, and has a tearjerker of an ending. It’s a nice piece from Heathrow that hits all the right notes for the season.

And Macy’s ninth annual “Believe” campaign invites people of all ages to drop off a letter to Santa at their local store, or email it online, then share, tweet, or post a video about it. For every letter the department store receives, they’ll donate $1 to Make-A-Wish®. It’s a feel good campaign that encourages consumers to get into the spirit of the season and give back.

Make it Meaningful
Brands can create an emotional holiday ad or campaign, but if it doesn’t fit with their audience, there’s no point. The message should be impactful and relevant—consumers should immediately be able to relate it to the brand. Take outdoor retailer REI, who went against the grain and decided to close all locations Black Friday 2015. Instead of trying to lure shoppers to stores with discounts and deals, REI asked its fans to #OptOutside, and spend time with family outdoors. According to Fortune, the hashtag brought in over 1.2 billion social impressions, and was embraced by consumers so much that REI did it again for 2016.

And in 2014, Apple won an Emmy for its “Misunderstood” commercial, featuring a teenager who seems to be ignoring his family in favor of his iPhone. But Christmas morning reveals that he’s been using his phone to edit a movie of the holiday gathering. It was a smart way for the Apple brand to show how its product (and technology) can affect our daily lives.

Of course, marketing doesn’t have to center only on the winter festivities. There are numerous major holidays and special occasions throughout the year that can be used to your marketing advantage. Contact the Harmon Group today to get started. We can help you create and implement an appropriate and impactful campaign around whatever holiday you choose.

If you want to know more about what we can do for your brand or business, contact us.