The Marketplace Report: Retailers Yield on 'Christmas'
ALEX CHADWICK, host:
Back now with DAY TO DAY. I'm Alex Chadwick.
What is your preference when it comes to describing this time of year? Is it Christmastime or the holiday season? Some retailers, who may be trying to be all things to all people, apparently didn't know what was in store for them this year. They've been under intense pressure to put `Christmas,' that word, back into their marketing efforts. Joining us is New York bureau chief for "Marketplace," Bob Moon.
Bob, who's pushing this campaign, and how has it been going so far?
BOB MOON reporting:
Hi, Alex. Well, first of all, it's been playing out quite successfully actually. It's being pushed by a number of different groups on several different fronts. There's a story in today's Los Angeles Times that puts together numerous instances this year where Christian groups have successfully pressured some of the big retail chains to put more mentions of Christmas in their advertising.
Target, for example, had kicked off the season with a rather generic theme that used terms like `holiday plates,' `holiday leggings,' `holiday ornaments' and even `holiday trees.' Well, that triggered an online petition drive that drew about 500,000 people, who signed on to boycott that chain. And Target has now changed its holiday tune, so to speak. It's promising to put more `Christmas' into its marketing leading up to the holiday.
Likewise, the Lowe's home improvement chain--it had put up banners outside its stores across the country to sell, quote, unquote, "holiday trees." Well, in that case, there was a big phone-in campaign, and Lowe's has now removed those banners in favor of signs that calls them Christmas trees.
Early in the season, you may recall, there was the same kind of pressure against Wal-Mart's `holiday'--or should I say `Christmas'--marketing. Macy's got hit with a similar outcry last year. This year it did some pre-emptive promotion. It sent activists a message that said it's going to be using `merry Christmas' a lot more.
CHADWICK: I know that FOX News has been railing about this. How about groups like the ACLU? Have they anything to say?
MOON: Yeah. One ACLU official is suggesting that it's very un-Christmaslike to force people to wish everyone a merry Christmas. And some critics on the left do accuse the right, that is, of creating something of a controversy here just to stir up voters. As you mentioned, the FOX News Channel--John Gibson on the FOX News Channel has a book out. It's called "The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christmas Holiday is Worse Than You Thought."
CHADWICK: Is the campaign just focused on retailers or more widespread?
MOON: Well, it's aimed also at government observances of the holiday, too. There's a group called the Liberty Counsel. It claims it has 1,500 volunteer attorneys ready to sue any town that puts up a holiday display and keeps out nativity scenes.
Today in the "Marketplace" newsroom, we're looking at the underlying economics behind neighborhood wine-tastings.
CHADWICK: Bob Moon of public radio's daily business show "Marketplace." Thank you, Bob.
And we'll note "Marketplace" is produced by American Public Media.
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