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Why do Automakers Capitalize on Christmas?

Why do Automakers Capitalize on Christmas?
Attendees during the 2022 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan, US, on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. The Detroit auto show returns this week after a three-year absence and in a downsized format, reflecting a broader shift by car companies in how they reach consumers. Photographer: Emily Elconin/Bloomberg

Sitting at home, stuck in 18 inches of snow for three days gave me the opportunity to watch hundreds of TV commercials. And despite the unnecessarily-loud volume and annoying number of carolers singing about electronics, I couldn’t help but take special note of advertising by automakers.

There are two main players who always seem to take advantage of the holiday gift-giving season, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus. These luxury car manufacturers have the ad dollars to spend, and they put them to good use around this time of year.Recently, TrueCar.com forecasted the best 10 days of the year to purchase a new car. Six of those days are in December. Click here to read their press release on the topic. If this is true, my question is: does the onslaught of luxury car ads between Thanksgiving and December 25th bother the general public?

Regardless of one’s religious point-of-view, I find it intriguing that Christmas is the only religious holiday where it is acceptable for carmakers to try to persuade the public – even Christians – that buying themselves or their spouse a new $50,000+ car would simply be honoring the spirit of the Christmas holiday.

(Side Note: Not that I don’t trust his taste or decision-making abilities, but I’m not sure that I’d want my husband to just show up Christmas morning with a new car in the driveway. In my opinion, that’s riskier than picking out the right engagement ring. I don’t really like surprises, so the thought of someone else making such a large purchase for me without my input doesn’t really excite me. Click here to read a humorous blog post on this topic by herscene in Louisville, KY.)

Ok, back to what I was saying. I, too, find it interesting that while automakers are obviously advertising “Christmas” specials, they refer to them as solely “Winter” or “December to Remember” events. See what I mean in Mercedes-Benz’s 2009 ad below:

I don’t mean to single out auto manufacturers or car dealers because they certainly are not the only businesses taking advantage of this opportunity to drive business to their stores. But I find the push for Christmas car shopping perplexing because most auto dealers are small, family-owned buisnesses. And I think it’s safe to assume that most of these small businesses observe the Christmas holiday and therefore, do not remain open for business on the 24th and 25th of December. So knowing this, how do ads like these by Lexus and MB work if nobody’s open for business (and certainly few are going to go out to buy a car) on Christmas?

As a Christian, I personally find some ads from companies slightly discourteous. But at the same time, I can’t say I’m immune to holiday deals. I just don’t have the cash flow to buy one of Lexus’ or Mercedes’ products. It’s really a catch 22 for us Christians because if we don’t participate in the festive gift-giving traditions we’re considered prudish Scrooges, but if we participate too much then it’s like we’re devaluing the purpose of the season.

Why then is Christmas different than, say, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa? Schools and businesses ask us and our children to celebrate these two December holidays in addition to Christmas, but I don’t see any advertisers playing “Dreidle, dreidle, dreidle” in the background of commercials filled with blue and white color schemes and menorahs all around.

Now, I don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty of religious differences here, but I am honestly curious to hear your opinions on this matter – from Christians, Jews and non-believers alike. I want to know what you think makes it acceptable for auto manufacturers and other companies to ask people to spend so much money at Christmas but not during Hanukkah, or at Easter, during Passover, or on All Saints Day?

Take a moment to look at the Lexus TV ad I’ve embedded below. Have you seen this and other TV ads from carmakers this holiday season? Do you think automakers are capitalizing on the Christmas holiday? And do you think it’s unfair for them to do so during a religious holiday? Would you want them to target you and your family and friends during the religious holiday most precious to you? Please provide comments below and share your thoughts and opinions with me. I look forward to reading your responses.

View the video here.

Written by Melanie

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