The Secret Marketer welcomes Christmas with trepidation

Like it or not, Christmas has landed. Seasonal trading patterns, daily monitoring of sell-through on seasonal stock, gossip about everybody’s Christmas ads, staff holiday cover planning, office Christmas party politics and a raft of invites from agencies offering festive hospitality are now part of our daily working lives until the new year.

Not that I’m complaining. Christmas is a marketer’s dream. Unlike other ’frontline’ departments, we don’t have to provide too much in the way of holiday cover. It’s a bit like being at school when everybody gets a decent holiday. A quick check on your BlackBerry each day for anything urgent is all that’s really expected. Better still, being in marketing you don’t have to rely on the office party as your sole source of festive frolicking. If you’re a well-liked client, or even if you’re not particularly well-liked but are responsible for a budget that is, you can be sure of plenty of festive fun courtesy of your agencies.

I used to enjoy the postevent gossip: rumours of client-agency relationships of a deeper kind, etc

Lovely as it is to be entertained, I have never quite understood why agencies try to cram their hospitality into one month of the year. It is not the most creative strategy and poor media planning if you ask me. Have they not considered client fatigue?

Getting a good share of voice at this time of year is impossible and why spend your hard-earned cash at the most expensive time of year? With a schedule that is likely to include their own company party and department gatherings, too many brand managers will already be stuffed by the time they attend the latest agency bash. None of this is to suggest for one minute that we are not grateful; just to say we will most likely be knackered. Though hopefully we will at least get the name of the host agency right when we arrive.

It is fair to say that my enjoyment of the corporate festive shenanigans has diminished with seniority. As a member of the brand team, I happily nursed my hangover with the rest of them. But it’s less fun managing a team of hangovers. I used to enjoy nothing more than the post-event gossip: who’d made fools of themselves, rumours of client-agency relationships of a deeper kind and stories of account handlers getting so trashed they vented their entire frustrations about the client. No, Christmas is nowhere near as much fun when you’re the boss. We’re only in November and already the sense of trepidation is churning my stomach.



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