The Gimmick That Stole Christmas

It is a little late for Christmas, but then again, it was a little late when I was watching ABC’s Duel on their website. Have you ever really thought about those marketing ploys that holiday advertisers make to get swarms of parents in their stores (with their children) to buy things for their children that they don’t need?

Advertising gimmicks and marketing ploys may just be the trigger that starts a conversation between you and your child (or if you are a child — between you and your parent) about the existence of characters such as Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and Santa. These kinds of conversations might be sparked if you enjoy game shows and watching game shows with said child/parent. I was watching ABC’s Duel and while fixated on who was going to win, I discovered to my amusement, that Rudolph was an advertising gimmick through one of the questions. Montgomery Ward was too cheap in 1939 to out-source a Christmas story so they had one of their copy writer’s work up one to use for a children’s coloring book promotion that we now know as Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer. After the writer got rights to the story, he had his brother-in-law write up lyrics, sent them off to famous singers, and then it was recorded by one and sold — to the count of fifteen million copies. A small price to pay for explaining the existence of Rudolph — and to that end — Santa, just after watching an innocent game of Duel?

But what about the advertising changes so that people aren’t offended? Really, if you don’t want to call it a “Christmas” tree, why don’t you hang it upside down in your house? That’s how it used to be before Martin Luther changed tradition. The nativity scene is now oh so “off-limits”, but Santa was created from a Bishop who used his inheritance to help those impoverished. It’s quite a transition from the modern-day Santa that was created by Coca-Cola to increase their sales isn’t it?

Have those gimmicks that are now weaved into threads of reality stolen Christmas? Have they delved deeper into uprooting our morals? Shall we choose to lie in order to diminish chaos, but still give into those advertisers who clean our pocketbooks so tiny tots can bang on their new toys merrily? This commercialism has faded the true reality until a family sits beside a newly purchased television, watching a newly released gameshow. Then the question pops up and is answered… but then the audience, the family sitting at home gets bombarded with the all too real question from a child,

“Rudolph isn’t real? What about Santa?”



Just an FYI to inform people why I don’t do spec-work. (and please note these descriptions are referenced at which is VERY informative to clients). If you have ever tried to get me to do it, I usually hand you a non-disclosure agreement which basically says I’m entitled to some kind of payment for work done, even if you don’t use it. It would be like having a home re-modeler come into your house and then after they started on the job, you decide you want to go with someone else. They are entitled to some compensation.

What is spec work?
Basically, its any kind of creative work rendered and submitted, either partial or completed, by a designer to a prospective client/employer before taking steps to secure both their work and an equitable fee. Under these conditions, a designer will often be requested to submit work under the guise of either a contest or an entry exam on actual, existing jobs as a “test” of their skill. In addition, the designer normally unwittingly loses all rights to their creative work because they failed to protect themselves by means of a signed binding contract or agreement. The client/employer often uses this freely gained work as they see fit without fear of legal reprocussion.

If I can’t decide whether I like a design before I pay it, how do I know I am going to get a good one?
This is why it pays to use a professional designer. Professional designers are just that – professionals. They are experts in their craft. It is their job to do good work.

I personally am a member of the Greater Dayton Advertising Association, a division of the American Advertising Federation (the oldest national advertising trade association). I have a list of references that would be more than happy to give you their feedback on how well their projects were completed.I do offer discounted rates for non-profits, and designs with link-backs. I sometimes am willing to do a trade of service/product if there is a need for it.