by Colin Jowell

I’ve never been so glad to see the end of the “End of Financial Year”. Well, more accurately, the EOFY advertising. While one could live with the charities making a last minute bid for your benevolent dollar, scores of Australian businesses could not resist the urge to get you to spend up on your deductible expenses, in the least imaginative ways possible. Dreary savings from office supplies to automobiles, gussied up in so-called seasonal relevance.

And then there were the World Cup themed ads. 

Some even tried, ham-fistedly, to do both in the same thirty-second advert! 

There is no problem with trying to make your marketing relevant. But when seasonal or event driven themes are a tack on, it just ads clutter to the message.  Suddenly, you’re not just competing with other carmakers for differentiation, you’re competing with everyone else talking about the World Cup. Or Christmas. Or Easter. Or…. and instead of standing out in the category, you’ve forced your brand into a blur of similarly themed stuff.

In fairness, I didn’t always think this way. 

In a former life and a former job, following the herd was the norm, and our version of “proactive” was presenting the idea for the annual Christmas campaign in June, instead of the normal last-minute rush. We decked out the boardroom in Christmas finery, and despite near single digit weather, we were dressed in summer shorts (brrr!) to convey a sense of the season we were going to be selling. Our client dismissed our song and dance in one (chilling but nevertheless telling) critique: “I think people will know it’s Christmas. Just tell them what’s special about my product”. 

And that remains the issue with so much of this seasonal guff.  Where are the original offers? Where is the new, innovative way to take advantage of tax deductions? As if any small business owner or procurement officer isn’t aware that office stationary is deductible? 

To make matters worse, more and more marketers are trying to get the jump on the market, starting the seasonally “relevant” marketing before anyone else. 

Don’t we all get that sense of dread or even outrage when we hear Jingle Bells in October? 

Too often, relevance is seen as a way to stand out. But when that source of relevance is pretty much the same as everyone else, the only person you’re convincing is yourself.  And while there is a time and place for most things, there is never a time when true differentiation won’t make your sales results a whole lot more festive.


  • If you are going to attach yourself to a season or event, how have you tailored your product/service/ offer to have unique relevance to that event?
  • If the season is an essential selling period for you and you need to be in market, you may be better off focusing on your product/service benefits and letting the seasonal interest carry you, rather than cluttering your message.