Christmas Commercials Already? Is it Too Early?

“Hello America, it’s too early for Christmas so, just to be clear, this is not a Christmas commercial.”

That’s how Kmart’s new ad opens, but soon it becomes very clear that this clever spot is really all about the holiday season—especially after a reindeer, Yule log, and Santa make appearances.

That, clearly, is the whole point. The video, which was posted online on September 12, is very much a Christmas commercial released far ahead of the season. This intentionally provocative timing combined with smart humor has sparked a lot of views (3 million+ to date) and a lot of conversation (a typical reaction, and the current top YouTube comment: “Shut Up!!! I don’t care about Christmas! It’s not even fall yet!”).

However, what’s truly brilliant about the commercial is that it’s not a gimmick. Between the sly jokes (“Merry Birthday Everyone!”), Kmart pushes its layaway program, which allows customers to set aside items now, make payments for the next few months, and pick up their purchases right before Christmas. That underlying message makes the video a truly well-timed prompt that could legitimately boost the retailer’s holiday sales.

So, does this mean that you should start your own holiday marketing efforts this early? The answer is: yes—with a caveat.

A study released last year found that by July nearly half of shoppers have already made plans for when to purchase their holiday gifts. Moreover, of those consumers who plan out their buying, 30% begin making holiday purchases before the end of October (9% before Labor Day, 21% before Halloween). An additional 44% of shoppers who plan ahead begin to buy by early December.

Christmas Commercials Already?

Seasonal Google search data confirms the same behavior: retail queries start to ramp up at the end of August, climb quickly in September and October, then peak in November and December.

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Christmas Commercials Already?

What does all this mean? Basically, that this time of year—the weeks between the end of summer and Halloween—is when a significant number of consumers either begin to buy gifts and/or start to plan their purchases.

So, as much as some of us may hate to admit it, this is indeed a prime time to start a holiday campaign.

Now, the caveat: Don’t forget that you’re not alone. Plenty of other advertisers are also gearing up to launch their campaigns, which means consumers are already seeing some holiday advertising across all media.

As the Google search data shows, this volume is set to quickly ramp up, so you’re going to face increasing competition for your holiday messaging. That doesn’t mean you should shy away from diving in, but it is a reminder that your efforts need to be truly on-point.

In particular, it’s key that your holiday messaging be properly tested and targeted, even this early. As consumers are increasingly deluged with a flood of special ads and emails, the ones that will break through the noise will be those that contain truly enticing offers.

This, perhaps, is the sneaky lesson of the Kmart spot: it succeeds not only because it’s smart, but also because it contains a compelling call to action (spread out your payments and get the gifts you want for the holidays). That’s impressive indeed for a Christmas commercial that’s not even a Christmas commercial.

Get a head start on creating powerful holiday marketing strategies. Contact MDG Advertising today at 561-338-7797 or visit

MDG Advertising is a full-service advertising agency and one of Florida’s top branding firms. With offices in Boca Raton and New York City, MDG’s core capabilities include branding, logo design, print advertising, digital marketing, mobile marketing, email marketing, media planning and buying, TV and radio, outdoor advertising, newspaper, video marketing, Web design and development, content marketing, mobile marketing, social media marketing, and SEO. To discover the latest trends in branding and advertising, contact MDG Advertising today at 561-338-7797.


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