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Jingle all the way

United Church of Canada 2006 wondercafe Christmas advertisement

Advertising blogger Duncan Macleod asks what we should do about Christmas marketing

JUDGING BY the amount of paper coming through our mailboxes and Christmas-related advertising on the radio at the moment, the Christmas season is good news for advertising agencies.

Some of the advertising takes the standard line of “buy your presents from our store”.
But there are exceptions.

The MCG in 2005 worked with George Pattersons Y&R, Melbourne, to advertise the Boxing Day cricket match.
A Christmas card with a nativity scene was placed alongside the same setting on the day after – in which all the men have disappeared.

They’re off to the cricket it would seem.

World Vision in Australia, through the Stir social action network, is promoting the use of ecards (online pictures) to raise awareness of Millennium Development Goals over Christmas. Messages to politicians in 2006 included, “Be an angel this Christmas. Put something extra in the 2007 budget for the world’s poorest people”.
Another card reads, “If you’re eaten alive by mosquitos this Christmas, think about Africa, where a child actually dies every 30 seconds from malaria.

“This isn’t a case of charity anymore. It’s about justice!”.

The United Church of Canada in 2006 showed Jesus sitting in Santa’s seat posing with a child for a photograph. “Would you still take your kids? After all, isn’t Christmas supposed to be about Him, not the guy in the red suit? Or can it be about both? Share your opinion at www.wondercafe.ca, the home of lively discussion on spiritual topics, moral issues and life’s big questions.”

Christian churches do not have a monopoly on Christmas.

Marketers know that Australians have a longing for shared narratives, symbols and language during their few festive seasons.

The Santa Claus experience may not fit our summer barbecue and beach setting but it does connect us with parts of the Northern hemisphere and lends us a sense of festivity and fantasy.

The Christian nativity may not connect with the actual beliefs of all Australians but it does provide us with a shared narrative – a story of birth we can all relate to somehow.

Christian churches have an opportunity at this time to inspire, to remind people of the connection between God and God’s world.

Christmas cards may be going out of fashion, with the increase in email and text communication, but the spread of goodwill is still important in Australia.

Companies and organisations with marketing sense are going out of their way to reconnect emotionally with their staff, customers, members and the general public.

This is not the time to berate the public about their distorted priorities. It’s a time to build friendship and start new conversations.

It’s a time to reach out with a message of hope, trust, and action.

Now is a good time for Christian churches to be collaborating with local businesses and community organisations to invest in the community.

Rev Duncan Macleod reviews print and television advertising every day at www.duncans.tv

Photo : United Church of Canada 2006 wondercafe Christmas advertisement