• How to Have a PC Holiday


Starbucks’ new red cups have launched, and they have signaled more than the reemergence of the holiday season. This year, Starbucks’ ode to the holidays has brought with it the age-old battle of the Politically Correct. 

The solid red cup that Starbucks introduced this year has coffee drinkers seeing red in more ways than one. What is seen by some as simply a minimalistic approach to holiday marketing, is referred to by others as a blatant attack on Christmas.

The controversy will be sure to affect marketers in one of two ways. First, parties on either extreme end of the PC spectrum may be sparked to respond and add fuel to the fire. The others may just skirt around the holidays altogether in an attempt to temper the flame. Whatever your first instinct may be, deciding on a game plan will not always be easy.

Caught between Politically Correct and a hard place?

Don’t worry! Despite what the term PC suggests, there is no “correct” approach to holiday messaging. As any other messaging should, your season’s greetings should be representative of your business and its target audience.

Think of your ideal customer. What do they value? What is their ethnic background? Are they typically religious? Easily offended? Answering questions like these will help you to better craft your holiday messaging to fit your audience.

If most of your target audience fits into a similar mold, your marketing approach will be practically intuitive. The best course of action here is to create messaging that aligns with your target audience’s values and beliefs. For example, a church in the Bible Belt will never have to think twice about setting its holiday focus on Christmas. For other industries where the target audience interests and beliefs are more varied, the answer may not be so black and white — or in this case, red and green.

Celebrating Diversity: How to Approach Your Holiday Messaging

If you have a diverse client base, the best strategy is all-or-none. Both pose a compromise with the Politically Correct, to ensure that you keep your customers happy and avoid offense.

  • The All

The Jack (Frost) of all trades, this marketer truly embraces all traditions, and crafts campaigns that celebrate everything from Hanukkah to Christmas to Kwanzaa — and everything in between. If this is a route you decide to pursue, make sure you are striking a balance between all holidays. This may mean doing a little extra research on traditions that you are unfamiliar with.

  • The None

The most common of the two, this marketer avoids mentioning any specific holiday. This means saying “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings” as opposed to “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah.” What it does not mean, however, is that festive posts should be avoided altogether. Whether it is a feel-good community story or a well-loved holiday recipe, there are many ways to elicit the holiday spirit without getting specific.

However you decide to tackle your holiday messaging, one rule is steadfast: keep it light! The holidays are a time of celebration, family, and overall, positivity. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, after all!

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