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And the Winner of the Obnoxiously Early Holiday Advertising Award Goes To…

I wasn’t going to write another whiny blog post lamenting our conspicuous consumption in the name of holiday cheer. I really thought I could avoid it this year. I was wrong. It’s not even Thanksgiving and already holiday-themed commercials have me convulsing like a beached eel.

I am not a Grinch, but the holidays make me grumpy.

Don’t’ get me wrong. I relish the holidays for what they are supposed to be: a time to relax with close family and friends and enjoy simple pleasures like a gingerbread cookie and hot chocolate on a cold December day.

But I haaaaate what the holidays stand for today. Not only is the time of year synonymous with consumerism, but everywhere you and I go in the next two months we will be seeing, hearing, and reading messages telling us: Buy more, buy more, buy more. It’s okay, everybody’s doing it! Buy more!

And the implied messages of many holiday ads only get more dubious. Some of my favorites?

How about the classic: “A diamond is forever,” as if, without one, your love will not be.

And then there are the ads showing a spoiled little white kid running around his parents’ McMansion on Christmas morning with the latest toy. The subtext just oozes out: “Wait until Bobby’s friend Joe sees what he got for Christmas this year! That’ll teach Joe’s parents for building a bigger pool than us!”

I’ll have some more great examples in a few weeks, but I am going to focus today’s harangue on one particularly loathsome piece of consumerist hogwash: The “Get a Garmin” campaign.

The mere thought of the ads, that insidious jingle, and the woman’s suddenly-appearing unabrow leave me nauseous.

If you’re not familiar, the ad features an unmemorable middle-aged soccer mom driving around a holiday-decorated town and packing her SUV chock-full of bags and boxes.

The message seems to be that you need a GPS not so much to find your way around but to cram more shopping into fewer hours of the day. Not to mention you could instantly find the nearest Salon to tame those unsightly eyebrows with strips of molten paraffin.

Yes, the ad is annoying, but that’s only partially the reason it vexes me so.

I don’t think the Garmin GPS is a bad product. I use their technology when I rent cars in new cities to make my trips more efficient and safe. As a pilot, I think the company’s contribution to aviation navigation and safety is remarkable.

What I take objection with is the way Garmin has chosen to market the product – by showing a woman using it to go on a cross-town shopping rampage.

Why not show it finding her way home from work to her family? I guess it wouldn’t have the effect they are going for.

We’ll see if the ad can hold up against others that roll out this December as my most-hated commercial. I’ll write an update in about a month. But for the moment here’s another bonus:

I saw a Mountain Dew ad (and forgive me, I wasn’t paying too much attention so I don’t recall all the details), but it was targeting video-game lovers to go online to play an interactive web game in which they were in a “world oppressed by capitalism” in which participants must struggle to be the only one to be granted any creative freedom. What is that freedom you might ask? The winner gets to design a new soda name and flavor.

Are you serious? Really? Did Larry Craig just take over Pepsi’s marketing department?

Good luck surviving this holiday season. If these things irk you like they do me, you’re going to need it.

Published or updated on November 12, 2007

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.


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  1. matt says:

    I guess for me it has to be the mute shopping in Lowes. If we are so stressed that we cannot speak maybe we should stay home?


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