Good Tidings for All


Everyone has a favorite holiday song. And whether it’s Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!, Jingle Bells, or Feliz Navidad, the melodies have a way of getting into your brain. Holiday music seems to start just before Halloween and end long after New Year’s, and the spirit of the tunes puts us in a good mood. It’s probably the reason why people are a little nicer during the month of December.

The music emanating from your radio may make the cold weather a bit more bearable, but much of December can be a battle for direct response advertisers. The final week of the year is nirvana, however, and promises great gifts to those who wait.

Moving out of Black Friday and the Thanksgiving shopping weekend, December is all about retail. What used to be a catalog-heavy holiday has turned into a mass-media bonanza of television commercials, banner ads, and deals to entice and persuade even the stingiest of shoppers. The airwaves will be crowded with the Targets, Walmarts, and Macy’s of the world, not to mention the Amazons and other dot-coms.

Whether it is on the news networks or during reruns of The Big Bang Theory, every commercial break is filled with ads from retailers. It’s great for the stores, but for direct response marketers, it means less inventory. We can’t compete with the influx of :30 advertisers paying top dollar for the available commercial time. Inventory is also hard to come by, since much of the remaining time is held for retailers and their incremental dollars.

For those with a :30 retail push, spend to your heart’s content. Not only will you be able to hobnob with the big retailers, but the added holiday foot traffic should make your advertising much more profitable.

If you start testing new on Dec. 26, your advertising dollars will work hard for you.

As difficult as the first three weeks of the month may be for DRTV marketers, that’s how wide-open the airwaves will be once Santa is done delivering his presents. Marketers have many factors going for them. For one, you can count on a holiday hangover—and not from the spiked eggnog. No, this hangover is where people sit and watch TV all day, not thinking about buying a single thing for anyone else. Curling up on the couch for an all-day marathon and watching :120 commercials to figure out what to buy yourself as a reward for making it through the holidays should be an athletic event.

Speaking of marathons, that’s what will be airing after the holiday specials dry up; likely candidates include Law & Order: SVU, NCIS, and The Walking Dead. But during the runup to the holidays, ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas leads the season off, and the Hallmark Channel shows holiday movies nonstop for the two months up to the New Year. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing Annie Claus 15 times.

The start of winter also brings big-name sporting events to entice big-name advertisers and many a viewer. In spite of its controversies, the NFL will finish 2014 as the most-watched programming, but CBS, Fox, and NBC will be the real winners. Not to be outdone by the pros, the college bowl season is upon us, leading up to the national championship game in Arlington, Texas, on Jan. 12, 2015.

The month of December brings cold air and good cheer; what it won’t bring is a decent testing period. The beginning of the month is a difficult time to secure valuable inventory or rate structures favorable to a new product. Space is crowded between all of the retailers, car companies, and movie premieres airing ads. If you start testing new on Dec. 26, however, your advertising dollars will work hard for you, and you may see some nice returns.

The holiday season is one of joy. Sing a corny holiday song, drink some eggnog, and have a safe and happy holiday. Then, sell to your heart’s content!

Eddie Wilders is vice president of research and analytics of Lockard & Wechsler Direct in Irvington, N.Y. “Like” Lockard & Wechsler on Facebook and follow @lwdirect on Twitter.