Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Happy Holidays? It's Christmas, actually...

I love Christmas. I love the cold weather (although I can take or leave the rain), the lights, the hustle and bustle in the shops and the general feeling that lingers in the air. What I cannot stand is the Americanisation (is that a word?) of Christmas in this country.

I fully appreciate and understand that the U.S.A. is secular and that there are various 'holidays' that are encompassed in the generic 'Happy Holidays' slogan that the US adopts. But, the U.K. is a Christian country and we celebrate Christmas.

I work at an American firm, and every year we have the same argument. They refuse to do separate Christmas cards for our European clients - instead we have one global Holiday card. The argument is that a Christmas card isn't fully inclusive and is therefore offensive. Personally, I'm offended that we don't send Christmas cards. Every year, I lose the argument. Fair enough, it's their company, but I think I have a point.

Perhaps I am more sensitive now working at a US firm, but I am increasingly irritated by firms like Coca Cola using a global message for a religious holiday. Yes, it is one of the most recognised symbols in the world - so they are obviously doing something right - but just using a 'one size fits all' strategy for your marketing and branding is lazy in my opinion. Maybe it works because Coke is a simple product that doesn't change no matter which market they are in. If McDonald's operated the same strategy, they'd be out of business. Can you imagine the conversation:

McDonald's person (MP): "It's called a quarter pounder. It's very popular in the US."
French person (FP): "What's a quarter pounder? Is that what it's made of?"
MP: "No - that's the weight of the meat."
FP: "We use metric weight here - the expression quarter pounder will be meaningless."
MP: "But that's what we use in the US. Surely if we just carry on, we can bring everyone round to our way of thinking..."

I think not. I'm not tempted by the McDonald's Festive Pie but I bet it sells well! Now, if I can just convince the management in the US that if it works for the golden arches, it might well work for us... Maybe next year we'll get our Christmas card...


  1. Couldn't agree with you more about the Happy Holidays thing. Ugh! Oddly, we were talking about it with our kids only this evening. It's Christmas for Heaven's sake! And then we can also have Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Ramadan, and Happy anything else you like, and that way everyone is happy and we all respect whatever we all believe (or don't believe...)
    Hope YOU have a very happy holiday....and a merry Christmas.

  2. Thanks Liz - Merry Christmas to you too :o) xx