So, I started my Christmas shop yesterday.
Before you throw your coffee at the monitor or dangle the laptop out of a nearby window in disgust, it wasn’t something I wanted to do. Christmas belongs to December; I noticed a Christmas tree in the Hourglass on Lower Briggate early September and I’ve boycotted it ever since.
Thing is, my parents have promised to pick up some of the more cumbersome presents this weekend and take them back to my home town. Since my circle of friends insist on having (cute, funny, lovely) kids, the train ride home for Christmas gets more and more difficult. Who wants to be sat next to the person balancing a tub of Duplo, six Winnie-the-Poohs and a drum kit on their lap? No-one wants to be friends with that guy.
Well, apart from any man drinking Stella Artois on a train – they’re desperate to chat to anyone. I think I sneezed once and Stella guy picked up with “Bless you. Well, now that we’re talking…”
The other tricky aspect of buying for the kids is the retail experience. I like the Early Learning Centre for good quality, educational gifts, though walking through its door prompts an epidemic of maternal Turrets as women summon their children to their sides; everyone automatically assumes the worst of a single bloke in a toy shop.
“Chelsea/Christabel/Stephanie-Louise, here, NOW.”
To come back to the Christmas shop, it struck me that it might be a case of ‘the earlier we start, the better’ this year.
Almost every winter, journalists discuss the influence of the X Factor, suggesting we might as well kiss goodbye to our free will as consumers as the show marches on. However, the impact, importance and potential of related advertising has really come to the fore in 2011, following this sad week for the Muppets. Not only are they missing out on hosting the Oscars, but earlier on, they also kissed goodbye to the X Factor dream.
Frankie Cocozza, or the contestant most likely to be a Jim Henson creation, has (been) withdrawn from the running following alleged drug use.
Quick! Get him off the M&S ad before buyers think they lace the cranberry sauce!
I’m joking: there’s no question that the founding father of high-street retail was doing the right thing by editing Frankie out of its TV ads. However, Marks & Sparks’ PR machine seem really determined to milk the scandal it for all it’s worth as stories of its revised campaign are appearing everywhere.
Typically, it would just be a valid, interesting news story worthy of extensive coverage but the stampede of organisations and individuals looking to exploit the ITV vehicle in 2011 makes it difficult to determine genuine, newsworthy information from Tulisa and Kelly supposedly feuding over a leading line of nail varnish.
In my humble opinion, PR professionals would be foolish not to make the most out of the X Factor, but it all feels a little crowded this November. As brands, contestants and judges compete for their share of the limelight, I feel like I’m having my intelligence insulted.
We’re lacking a truly transparent figure or affiliate to maintain the integrity of the show and suggest “it’s all about the music folks” rather than product endorsements or playing the fame game.
Bring back the Yeo Valley farmers and Simon Cowell – at least both were upfront and honest about what they wanted from their audience.