Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Has Christmas been re-branded?

Has "Christmas" been re-branded as "Holidays"? Judging by the flow of e-mails and greetings particularly from the USA, the word 'holidays' features prominently in subject lines, even in sender addresses, while Christmas is not mentioned.

Winston Churchill is attributed with the observation that Britain and America were "two nations divided by a common language" although even the origin of this quote is questioned. In England there remains a general acknowledgment that Christmas is essentially a Christian festival from which the ethic of giving and good will to  all men has been transformed into a focus on promoting the sale of  goods that can form the gift element. Holidays are an entirely different product generally recognised as a travel and accommodation vacation package more commonly associated, but not exclusively, with the summer. Would Bing Crosby's 'White Christmas' have proved so popular and enduring as 'White Holidays'?

The problem is that the Church of England's Christmas brand has in marketing terms become generic and no longer properly associated with their own well defined product. This is a problem that others have discovered to their cost when their brand becomes descriptive of a class of products, often a category they have pioneered. Hoover is a classic example where people commonly refer to their vacuum cleaner as a 'Hoover'. In the theatre the Strand Leko was so popular that all spotlights were commonly known as 'Lekos'. Of course supermarkets deliberately create generic brands - Cola for example - to position against, but priced beneath the leading brands. Electrical wholesalers also benefit from the product development efforts that bring buyers to the trade counter through promotion and specification where they are then encouraged to switch brand and save money. 
Protecting brand names through trademarks may not be adequate protection when the brand name becomes a product descriptor. May be the term 'holidays' will allow the church to reclaim their ownership of Christmas after all. 

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