Scheduling TV during Christmas raises the question does the audience drive the content or does the market push it?
December 13, 2018
As I’ve mentioned before I used to work for television. Television is still the biggest mass media source, so the broadcasting schedule is a huge deal in any country during the festive season. And as every country has their traditions, marketers and commercial agencies around the world have to create the demand around the country’s traditions. But, here’s a thought, are we only following them or are we actually inventing new traditions to create the demand?
Back in Georgia, our main holiday is New Year. Christmas is more focused on religion, so on Christmas day, we show films that relate and keep it very honourable and full of dignity.
It’s the New Year when we sell in Georgia and as I used to run the scheduling department, we needed to schedule the line-up for the last week of the year, designed to drive the audience correctly, so the ad breaks could be very distinctive in terms of time of day and demographics.
Judging by my countries traditions, I knew that adults are extremely busy every afternoon during the last week leading up to the 31st, while the kids are off school and demand entertainment.
So one year, I decided to run a Harry Potter marathon - 8 films in 8 days, from 6 pm to 8 pm. As you can imagine it worked well, sold a lot of ad time and was a huge success but I had no idea that I was starting a tradition, one which would repeat itself for at least the next four years until I left and moved to the UK.
One year later from the end of October we were swarmed with emails and social media posts with kids demanding we showed HP marathon again. Some of the very clever ones even managed to track me down on Facebook and instead of writing to the company page, they came directly to me with their pleas. (That age group, 8-12 had a lot of ideas on how I should run the scheduling department in general.)
As a scheduler, I liked to reinvent and have a new concept each year, a new theme to lead the line-up but the audience demanded HP and I had to do exactly the same as the year before, 8 films in 8 days. Any other film, any other demographic and this might have failed massively - it would be deemed repetitive and old news, but kids love re-runs (or Harry Potter.)
So HP for our channel became a tradition and then the whole thing snowballed into preparing special campaigns around it, selling special rates for ad times, special promos being created etc, getting more ads for children’s products etc. From that point on, I had no choice but to do the same every year - 8 films in 8 days, 6 pm till 8 pm.
This was not a nationwide phenomenon, but became a thing for our channel and our audience - parents knew that from 6 till 8 every day they could wrap the presents, prep the food, do some last minute shopping online or sort the house out for the holidays while the kids knew that the beginning of the school holidays meant it was time for the HP marathon.
Marketing is complex and demand is created by many different aspects. It is not always easy to say if we drive the audience or if the audience drives us and Christmas adds flare to it, as people buy more during the holiday season, meaning more ads and more demand.
In terms of tradition, UK’s Christmas ad campaigns work pretty much the same. It started years ago, as part of creating more demand and it gets bigger and more expensive each year. Read more about Christmas advertising in the UK here and remember, no matter where you are or what your consumer profile is, during the winter festive season people like tradition, old but gold, warm and fluffy, happy things and we as marketers must create more of exactly that.
Merry Christmas, everyone!