Holiday joywashing

By Ingrid Fetell Lee

If you manage to let your fast forward finger slip from the DVR remote for one second this holiday season, you’re practically guaranteed some joy. I haven’t had much time for TV lately so I’m sure I’m missing about 90% of the joy-filled ads out there, but even the few I’m getting show “joy” penetrating just about every industry.

Hyundai is offering more comfort and joy with their holiday sales. Walgreens is exhorting you to “find your joy” in one of their drugstore aisles. And Kibbles ‘n Bits is weighing in on the question of whether animals have emotions, offering to give your dog “more joy.” These are the ones I’ve managed to catch — have you seen any others?

In some cases, these are just holiday ads, one-offs that use the word joy as a proxy for keeping in tune with the season. In other cases, marketers are using the holiday timing to launch a joy-based positioning for the brand that will endure after the holiday season. It will be interesting to see which ones linger and which ones fade. My hunch is that on balance the joy-space will be a lot more cluttered come January/February than it was in September before the holiday madness started.

I don’t know what to make of this strategy, really. Branding is in large measure about differentiation. Why launch a new positioning at a time when everyone else is going to be saying exactly the same thing? I guess I’ll have to hold this critique until the new year, when we see who is holding fast to their joy taglines. In the meantime, unless you’re a scrooge, you may as well enjoy it. Joy seems to have dollar value this season, with lots of pre-Christmas sales. It doesn’t hurt to be in a good mood as you wander the aisles with the last-minute throngs!

Happy joy-finding!

December 21st, 2009

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