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lo-res_64125460-sIn the midst of the 2016 election season, marked by a virtually unprecedented level of contention and ugly rhetoric, the volume of political advertising has been immense. At local, state, and national levels, candidates are spending millions to dominate the airwaves, making sure that their opponents cannot do so. But by taking up so much space, the political advertising also is limiting the amount of attention that voters/consumers can devote to advertising in other realms.

In particular, they may have little room to recognize, focus on, and respond to advertising by retailers until after the election on November 8. As a result, retailers largely have put their holiday advertising on hold, waiting until after the election to start bringing out the St. Nick spokescharacter or offering up suggestions for holiday gift ideas.

This choice represents a stark change from recent years, in which the start of the holiday advertising season has kept moving earlier and earlier in the year. For some consumers, finding Christmas decorations up before they have even taken down their Halloween pumpkins has been an annoying distraction, such that the delayed start to the season might be a welcome relief.

But the delay also means that they are exposed to much more political advertising, which few consumers seem to enjoy. Accordingly, after the election ends, the National Retail Federation anticipates that people will be ready for a little shopping and retail therapy: It predicts a 3.6 percent increase in holiday sales compared with last year.

Thus retailers such as Kohl’s and Old Navy note their plans to saturate the airwaves after the second week in November, when the competition for airtime will no longer include any candidates for political office.

Discussion Question:

  1. Which would you prefer to encounter while watching television: really early holiday advertising or political ads?

 Source: Adrianne Pasquarelli, “Thank Clinton and Trump for Pushing Back Christmas Creep this Year,” Advertising Age, October 4, 2016

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