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Commercialized Christmas

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"Well, if they're not here for the Christmas pitch, I can't help them find new ways of tying their product in to Christmas. That's why I'm chairman of this board! Let's hear it for me!"
Mr. Scrooge, from Stan Freberg's "Green Chri$tma$"

Some people ask themselves what they can do to show the Christmas spirit in their community, and answer by doing things like volunteering and donating food. Others ask themselves what they can do to help Christmas showcase (and sell) lots and lots of their products, and answer by enlisting ad agencies to whip up plenty of TV commercials, radio spots, print ads, billboards, online pop-ups, tie-in products, etc.

The veneer of wholesomeness on the facade of Christmas-themed advertisements is as thin as the fake snow on the Hollywood soundstages these commercials were filmed on.

See also Christmas Rushed and Christmas Creep.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • The Flintstones Cereal Christmas commercials.
  • "Happy Honda Days."
  • Car commercials with price tags framed like Christmas ornaments, or with huge bows on top of the cars.
  • Jingle Bells corrupted to "O-o-o-o-big-Overstock.com."
  • Fruit of the Loom commercial over-emphasizing the "comfort" in "tidings of comfort and joy."
  • Norelco shows Santa riding through the snow on one of their razors.
  • The commercial with the gingerbread man where tossing his kids cell phones constitutes the extent of his holiday festivities.
  • McCormick. "Tis the seasoning!"
  • Coca-Cola. No, they didn't invent the image of fat, red-and-white-suited, white-bearded Santa Claus, but their advertising starting in pre-broadcast times helped to make the version that matched their company colors the memetic Santa. (Also the polar bears.)
  • The commercial with the Hershey's Kisses playing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" as little bells.
  • Honey Nut Cheerios has a holiday commercial in which Ebenezer Scrooge is tempted by the honey and nuts.
  • The Radio Shack Holiday Heroes ads blatantly implies that Christmas is all about the presents.
  • December 2010 Best Buy campaign. Similiar to Radio Shack above, with most blatant openly stating that Christmas Magic is about more viable payment options.
  • A long-running spot for Gallo's André line of sparkling wines exhorted viewers to "Take André home for the holidays!"
  • "This Christmas card was sent to you by the people at Miller High Life."
  • Along similar lines, Budweiser's Clydesdale horses. Seems in the '70s everyone liked getting drunk at Christmas time, especially while watching televised American Football.
  • "Fa-la-la-la, fa-la-la-la, T.J. Maxx!" (Its parent company reworked the lyrics to "Up on the Housetop" to plug T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods stores.)
  • "Peter Comes Home", a well-remembered '80s commercial for Folger's coffee.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Brazil, the Christians for Consumerism are marching across a department store on Christmas Eve while a little girl asks to a mall Santa for her own credit card.
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000): Cindy Lou Who is feeling disillusioned because everyone in Whoville seems to be obsessed with Christmas decorations, contests, and the buying of gifts. She sings about her Yuletide doubts in the song "Where Are You, Christmas?"
  • The main reason why Saving Christmas didn't do well even among its Christian target audience was because, rather than reaffirming the spiritual and religious significance of Christmas (the name being a truncated form of "Christ's Mass", by the way) as one might expect, Kirk Cameron instead spends much of the runtime using some rather specious logic in support of the holiday's commercialization, such as how spending money on lots of material things actually honors the birth of Christ rather than diminishes it, since He came to world in a material body (yes, that's the whole argument).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Stephen Colbert has pointed out that when "culture warriors" like Bill O'Reilly insist that stores should refer specifically to Christmas and not "the holidays," what they're actually demanding is that the Christian festival they're trying to defend should be used as a vulgar marketing tool. You'd think that if they're really concerned with preserving the True Meaning of Christmas, they'd be glad to have it distanced from the kind of advertising described above.
  • Once Super Sentai and Kamen Rider adopted little collectible items as the foci of their toylines, it was a short hop to add a Christmas-themed collectible in the set as a holiday promotion. These may or may not receive gratuitous Product Placement in the shows themselves.

    Music 
  • A major theme of Tom Lehrer's "A Christmas Carol", on An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer.
    Hark, the Herald Tribune sings,
    Advertising wondrous things.
    God rest ye merry, merchants,
    May you make the Yuletide pay.
    Angels we have heard on high
    Tell us to go out and buy.
  • Referenced by Tim Minchin in his Christmas song "White Wine in the Sun"
    And yes, I have all of the usual objections to consumerism,
    The commercialisation of an ancient religion,
    And the westernisation of a dead Palestinian
    Press-ganged into selling Playstations and beer.

    Podcasts 
  • Plumbing the Death Star did a Christmas special on which fictional character could sub for Santa the best, which went downhill when one of them suggested Ronald McDonald. The main objection to letting Ronald McDonald become Santa Claus is that he'd ruin Christmas by turning it into McDonald's Day and only giving children Happy Meals instead of actual presents, removing all magic and joy from the holiday and turning it into a hollow day of greed.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Spoofed on Dinosaurs during the Refrigerator Day episode: "We wish you a happy Fridge Day / We wish you a happy Fridge Day / We wish you a happy Fridge Day / So come in and buy paint!"

    Recorded and Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Stan Freberg's 1958 comedy record "Green Chri$tma$" may very well be the Trope Namer. It takes characters from A Christmas Carol like Scrooge and Bob Cratchit and puts them into an executive firm, where they discuss how to best advertise their products during the holidays. Cratchit is an Honest Corporate Executive, whereas everyone else is decidedly not.
    Scrooge: Well, if they're not here for the Christmas pitch, I can't help them find new ways of tying their product in to Christmas. That's why I'm chairman of this board! Let's hear it for me!

    Video Games 
  • In The Darkside Detective, a TV in the electronics store window at the mall where McQueen goes Christmas shopping is showing an ad in which Santa exhorts children to make their parents prove how much they care by buying expensive presents.

    Western Animation 
  • In Neo Yokio's Christmas Episode, "Pink Christmas", Kaz's friendliest nemesis, Arcangelo Corelli, exploits the True Meaning of Christmas to convince the citizens of Neo Yokio that capitalism and the mindless exchange of presents are perverting the reason for the season, and that Christmas should be celebrated by coming together with their fellow man... to attend his (pricey) Christmas spectacular! While sales of more traditional Christmas goods drop precipitously, Arcangelo's event quickly becomes the hottest ticket in town.
    Arcangelo: Ho ho ho. Use offer code FUCKMATERIALGOODS to receive $5 off any purchase of $200 or more.
  • In the VeggieTales episode The Toy that Saved Christmas this is the whole marketing strategy for Buzzsaw Louie. The following lines are from a commercial for the toy:
    Mr. Nezzer: Buzzsaw Louie also knows the true meaning of Christmas! All you have to do is press his nose...
    Buzzsaw Louie: Christmas is when you get stuff! You need more toys!
    Mr. Nezzer: You just won't be happy until your parents get you a Buzzsaw Louie, the only toy with a working buzzsaw, and the true meaning of Christmas!
    Buzzsaw Louie: Billy has more toys than you!
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas is one big Take That! at this trope and a satirical look of the tendency for corporations to appropriate and secularize Christmas to hock products. Charlie Brown finds himself increasingly disillusioned with the shallow, materialistic idea of the True Meaning of Christmas that most of the kids have, and the special ultimately climaxes with Linus giving a speech directly quoting the Bible, driving home that Christmas is a religious holiday, not a glorified commercial, and that treating it as the latter is disingenuous at best, offensive at worst. In a truly staggering case of Comically Missing the Point, the original 1965 broadcast included a moment in the opening ice-skating scene which ends with Linus crashing into a sign advertising Coca-Cola; no fans mourned that this was cut from all subsequent airings.

    Real Life 
  • In November 2013, former US Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin advocated the commercialization of Christmas, on the grounds that it helped spread awareness of Christianity in America.
  • Old prints and illustrations from the 19th century and before reveal that Father Christmas and his helpers could be any colour you liked, with (in Britain at least) yellow and green predominating. In Russia, "Ded Moroz" and his helpers still favour blue with white trim.note  Red only began to be the default colour with the global creep of Coca-Cola dressing Santa in their corporate colours.
  • Condemning Christmas presents and the material nature of the date has been a catholic tradition back until the early Middle Ages.
  • Do you recall the most famous reindeer of all? Probably, yeah. But you may not already know that, rather than starting out as the piece of treasured holiday folklore that he is now, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was originally commissioned by Montgomery Ward department stores to sell coloring books, when they decided that in-house publishing would be cheaper than sourcing them from wholesalers. Yep, Rudolph and his shiny red honker are the direct result of both Christmastime targeted marketing and corporate cost-cutting measures.


Bob Cratchit: Well, I guess you fellas will never change.
Mr. Scrooge: Why should we? "Christmas" has two S's in it, and they're both dollar signs.

Alternative Title(s): Commercialised Christmas

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