What Would the Holidays Be Without Advertising?

Nary a day goes by when we don’t see an ad reminding us of an up-and-coming holiday. With Christmas just barely in our rearview mirror, our drugstore shopping lanes are already filled with Valentine delights. And it seems like only yesterday we were clearing off our pumpkin-littered mantles to make room for menorahs and SpongeBob nativity scenes.

Stepping outside, we see department store after department store brimming with ads promoting whatever Hallmark holiday is in season. I can’t even imagine what Macy’s must spend on its Christmas decor, the Thanksgiving Day Parade, the 4th of July fireworks, and other holiday festivities.

On TV, our commercials play familiar jingles often remade to sync with the product—sort of like this:

The 4th of July reminds us that we should celebrate not only our freedom from British tyranny, but also the fact that our forefathers knew how to party:

In other ads, Santa argues with Best Buy employees, converses with M&M’s, and even dresses in disguise as a car salesman.

We’ve grown so accustomed to these ads that we almost feel as though “Black Friday” and the “Summer Back-to-School Sale” are legitimate calendar holidays.

The word saturation comes to mind.

But what would we do without these ads? What would life really be like if corporations didn’t tie in their products and services with the holidays? How would we prepare? How would we know they were coming? Would the big holidays become more like Arbor Day? Would they be blips on the calendar, forgotten until the week before?

Just think of all the hype that’d be missed! If anticipation is the spice of life, holidays might just be stale bread. Croutons. That’s what I’m saying. I’m saying that if our complaints and frustrations with the seemingly endless supply of capitalistic holiday ads—indeed a complaint box of size—resulted in their absence, our holidays would be croutons.

All right, so maybe I’m not defending the vomit-inducing spots like the T-Mobile commercial above. I’d rather shoot myself in the face than hear that spot again. But it’s just so engrained in us—it’s become the “holiday spirit” we rely on every year. To imagine a life without TJ Maxx dancers, pitter-pattering through our malls and our hearts, is no life at all.

I consider myself incredibly out of touch with new products, widgets, and services. I’m as anti-consumerist/anti-commercialism-y as they come. And yet, I don’t know a world without holidays expressed in this particularly American manner. And quite frankly, I don’t want to.

One hundred days until Arbor Day. Let the countdown begin.

Author: Eric Swenson


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