Holiday Magic Harder to Find in This Year's Ads

Starbucks is expanding on its 2.0 efforts of last year to delve more deeply into social media to engage customers and get them into Starbucks locations. Starbucks has expanded its online buy and will show up on sites like In addition, it has a very deep and broad social media strategy that includes Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Pandora. Customers can send red Starbucks cups to friends and family, upload holiday pictures and with the Starbucks Love Project, create and post a love drawing at, for which Starbucks will make a $1 donation to (RED). Customers can listen to a branded playlist on Pandora and get a free "Love" CD in its stores with a $15 purchase. There is also a variety of (Red) merchandise available in stores that when purchased will trigger a $1 donation from Starbucks.

Don't Hype the Holidays Early

As marketers step up their efforts to reach these tech-savvy consumers, they seem to be forgetting a few of the fundamentals of good marketing. All of the triggers that launched the holiday seasons of my youth both warmed and entertained. The commercial featuring Santa using a Norelco shaver as a sleigh, for me, was just as much a hallmark of the start of the holiday season as "Rudolph the Reindeer" and "Frosty the Snowman" television specials.

Of course, back then, no network would dare put on a Christmas special (for years, Rudolph and Frosty) until after Thanksgiving and Norelco worked hard to be the first holiday commercial of the season, thus ushering in a period of holiday-themed advertisements.

There was a tacit agreement between marketer and customer … an understanding that if we took the magic out of the season by hyping the holidays early, it wouldn't be as meaningful.

I'd like to see marketers spend more time romancing me before they ask me to reach into my pocket. The new technology, with powerful features like multi-media capability, multi-player gaming ability, phone applications, the ability of people to instantly communicate with groups of friends and family and immediacy begs for more clever, entertaining and meaningful communication.

If marketers get it right this holiday season, it could end up being the most wonderful time of the year.

The work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Larry Woodard is president and CEO of Vigilante, a New York-based advertising agency that develops consumer-centric advertising campaigns. He is also chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies New York Council and the recipient of many prestigious industry awards, including two O'Toole Awards for Agency of the Year, the London International Award, Gold Effie, Telly, Mobius, Addy's and the Cannes Gold Lion. A blogger and a frequent public speaker, Woodard enjoys discussing the intersection of media, politics, entertainment and technology.

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