So this is Christmas?

It’s not your usual Christmas card being sold by Typo, which feature the slogans “Merry F—ing Christmas” and “Happy Christmas D—head”.

The Geelong Advertiser, along with news.com.au are reporting that the national clothing chain is selling the cards as part of the franchise’s Typo stationery range, with a 10-pack selling for $5.

As expected (and probably hoped for by the brand), there has been the usual controversy and outrage that the cards are offensive, and don’t represent the “true” meaning of Christmas – which I’m assuming means eating too much, drinking too much, and then a punch-up in the backyard between the second cousins and Uncle Bob over who was the best Australian (insert pointless sport here) captain.

The reality is that the cards were probably sold to fill a gap in the market and are more of a reflection on today’s consumer driven society, rather than some inexorable slide into hellfire and damnation (or community standards).

From a pure marketing perspective, people respond to things in a lot of different ways. It’s what marketers call segmentation, and others might refer to as “different strokes for different folks”.

The proof, ultimately, will be in the (Christmas) pudding. A product will be successful only if there is a demand for it.

As I said to the Geelong Advertiser, “I personally think the idea is quite offensive, but it doesn’t surprise me that people will buy these cards because Cotton On is targeting a different audience to me.”

The target market is the type of person who has, what might be described as a blokey, even larrikin relationship with their friends. A simple demographic, such as age, is probably not the defining issue – I’ve heard forty five year olds using the term in a matey, way. It’s more to do with attitudes, relationships and, yes, values.

What we need to come to terms with is that businesses will make decisions based on community standards, when those community standards have the ability to influence their financial bottom line.

Indeed, John Simon, the Aussie Home Loans entrepreneur said yesterday, that business is what you can get away with.

And the key thing to remember is that we created this reality through our demands and consumption behaviour. We live in a world where business and economic performance tends to trump community standards and values.

As consumers we constantly demand more competition, the lowest prices, and all sorts of products and media to satisfy our “wants” – including offensive Christmas cards, but also offensive television programs, offensive radio hosts, and offensive products.

But it is all relative. In most cases, rather than simply saying what is and what is not a community standard, unAustralian or politically correct, we need to recognise that different people bring different perspectives to social discourse.

It then becomes something that the community debates, and decides upon through its behaviour.

But don’t hold your breath. Now that we’re talking about the cards, they’ll sell like hotcakes (or French Toast, from my perspective).

This entry was posted in Advertising, Consumer Behavior, Essay, Ethics, Human Behavior, Philosophy. Bookmark the permalink.

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