Brands

Half of Consumers Say Holiday Advertising Should Begin Mid-November

A clear majority of U.S. consumers find holiday-themed ads and marketing campaigns to be enjoyable rather than annoying, per a new Morning Consult survey

holiday advertisement
A Coca-Cola polar bear character from a 2012 advertisement. Half of U.S. adults said mid-November is just the right time for companies to launch holiday marketing campaigns, according to new Morning Consult data. (Coca-Cola Co.)

November is a polarizing month. Each year when the calendar turns away from Halloween, important debates begin. 

What is the best way to get rid of pumpkins? Is it too early to listen to holiday music? And what about putting up festive decor?

New Morning Consult data offers an answer to perhaps the most pressing question of all: When is the right time for brands to begin pushing their Christmas and holiday marketing campaigns?

When is the right time for brands to begin pushing their Christmas and holiday marketing campaigns?

For half of U.S. adults, it’s mid-November. A nearly equal share (48%) prefers late November. Either way, Americans mostly enjoy festive campaigns, making it the rare ad category that consumers can tolerate.

Half of Americans Say Mid-November Is Ideal Time for Holiday Advertising to Begin

U.S. adults were asked if they think the following time periods are too early, too late or just right for brands to begin holiday marketing campaigns:

“Don’t know/No opinion” responses not shown.
Survey conducted Nov. 16-17, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,215 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Consumers want to see holiday advertising pre-Thanksgiving

 

  • Early November (39%) and early December (36%) saw the next-highest levels of “just right” support, after mid- and late November.
  • Opinions get more intense on the extreme ends of the time scale: Nearly 2 in 5 consumers (38%) described mid-October as “way too early” for festive marketing to begin, while 44% said mid-December was “way too late.” 
Americans Thoroughly Enjoy Holiday Advertising

Respondents were asked to what extent they find holiday advertisements enjoyable or annoying

“Don’t know/No opinions” responses not shown.
Survey conducted Nov. 16-17, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,215 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.

Millennials, women enjoy holiday-themed marketing most

  • Across every major demographic grouping, less than one-third of respondents said they find holiday ads annoying — a notable feat considering Americans generally dislike advertising. 
  • Millennials were more enthusiastic than any other group, as nearly 2 in 5 (39%) reported finding holiday marketing “mostly enjoyable.” Thirty-four percent of women said the same, the next closest group. 
  • Men (28%) and baby boomers (24%) were least likely to find holiday ads “mostly enjoyable.” Still, more than 60% of both groups said they enjoyed such advertising overall. 
  • When asked to rate the likability of certain aspects of holiday promotions, “hearing about savings opportunities” and “the cheerful nature” of such ads came out on top — as 43% of respondents indicated they like each of these features “a lot.”  
  • Most adults overall (54%) were partial to advertising that mixes both Christmas and general holiday themes. Meanwhile, 27% favored Christmas-focused ads, and 19% said the same for general holiday ads. 

U.S. consumers’ favorite holiday brand activations

Despite a clear public preference for a Thanksgiving-adjacent start date to holiday advertising, many retailers continue to roll out campaigns earlier each year. But this might be only a minor issue for consumers, given their general admiration for holiday marketing.

With that, just one question remains: What are some of Americans’ favorite holiday brand activations over the years?

In open-end responses, most consumers cited Coca-Cola Co.’s polar bears, Anheuser-Busch InBev SA’s Budweiser Clydesdales or the Hershey Co.’s holiday bells. Mars Inc.’s M&M’s Santa commercials and Hallmark Cards Inc.’s Countdown to Christmas programming event also received frequent mentions.

No matter when holiday ads arrive this year, they’re sure to bring deep discounts as brands look to move excess inventory and court inflation-weary shoppers.

The Nov. 16-17, 2022, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 2,215 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.