EDITORIAL: A brand is for life, not just for major Christmas TV ads

Never mind the goose putting on a few extra pounds, you know Christmas is coming when the perfume ads start to waft their way onto TV schedules.

This annual fragrance adfest is one of the low points of the marketing calendar, let alone of Christmas.

I briefly thought about naming some of the worst offenders, only to realise that I could not. I know there is one homoerotic campaign involving stripy-shirted sailors and a woman with mutated shoulders, but until we pulled it from the files for our feature, 'Tis the season to advertise' on page 20, I could not for the life of me have identified it as a Gaultier ad.

The rest are just absorbed anonymously into the monochromic, supermodel girl snogs supermodel boy category clutter. The result is that our pre-Christmas ad breaks become as unappealing and asphyxiating as the same few minutes spent inside Selfridges perfume hall.

It's fortunate for these brand owners that, creatively barren as they are, these particular media and retail spaces are the most likely to convert prospects to sales.

For fragrance brands, Christmas presence means Christmas presents - or is it the other way round? While there are few sectors that manage it with such unthinking, formulaic, international homogeneity, the reality is that fragrances are not the only brands that can excuse their strategy on the basis of seasonal sales.

Confectionery, toys and games, spirits and retailers are among those sectors for which seasonal weighting works. Nestle Rowntree spends 70% to 80% of its media budget for Quality Street and After Eights in the pre-Christmas months, which drives most of the brand volume for the year.

Why bother to be smart with your marketing when you can make a glutton of yourself at Christmas and still benefit year round? The answer is that many brands have discovered growth opportunities by looking beyond Christmas.

Tia Maria, like many drinks brands, is trying to extend its appeal by repositioning as a year-round mixable, while Sony PlayStation is consciously avoiding the cluttered Christmas period for some of its major games launches.

Even Quality Street and After Eights have found other opportunities with the Big Quality Street variants and 2002's World Cup-themed activity.

If I have made an inadvertent argument for year-round fragrance ads, then I should also point out hurriedly that media strategy should never be totally divorced from your creative. And that the ads still stink.

Marketing would like to wish all its readers a Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year. We will we back with all the marketing news from January 2.


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