Editorial Features

Santa Baby, a ’54 Convertible Too, Light Blue

by | Dec 28, 2017

Christmas automotive advertising is an art form. From the vintage stylings of classically dressed men and women exiting their glamorous Lincolns and Cadillacs to attend fancy holiday parties, to the kitchy Santas jumping into Corvettes, to the family wagons carrying pre-lit Christmas trees, and even to today’s Happy Honda Days and Toyotathon, Christmas automotive advertising is ubiquitous, recognizable and very, very necessary. 

December isn’t prime time buying for car owners. For one, you’re already feeling the pinch of the holiday season. More importantly, most couples are going to make a decision about a car together, as even the least expensive brand new car is still way too much money to spend on a surprise, happy holidays! (Especially if you have a shared bank account, I meant that’s just rude.)

There’s also the knowledge that the brand new models are about to come out, so why should you buy this one?

But the fact of the matter is, car companies need you to buy their cars in December. They have end of year deadlines and sales goals to meet and they put out their 2018 models in fall of this year, meaning that they might still have stock eating up space. These factors combine to healthy buying incentives, like great deals and sales that might just make your brand new car affordable where it otherwise might not have been. 

And there are reasons for people to buy cars in December, such as the end of a lease or holiday bonus that, when coupled with those great sales incentives, really do work out well for everyone.

But you still probably won’t be buying these cars as Christmas gifts.

While the idea of the holiday ad – the big red bow, the happy family in their matching Old Navy jammies or the mom/dad in their bathrobe, two hands cupped around hot coffee – is part of our holiday consciousness, the ads don’t have a whole lot to do with Christmas at all. Instead, they’re all about getting rid of stock before January 1st, reminders that Christmas is here and soon it will be New Year’s and do you really want to miss out on another great deal?

Car dealerships don’t really care if you come in on December 26th. What they do care about is that your purchase helps them meet or beat this year’s goals and figures, not next year’s.

Is it a clinical way of thinking about things? I mean, when you see Santa working dutifully in his shop to make a gorgeous, holly-colored new Mercedes, sure, I guess. But when you get down to it, it’s a little crazy to even consider buying someone a car for Christmas. Cars are personal, special and unique, just like us nuts who love them. If you don’t buy the right sweater for someone, it’s no big deal, but you don’t buy them the right car? That’s a much more expensive whoops.

Still, I don’t necessarily consider it a bad thing that car companies so baldly use the holiday as a way of pushing sales. In fact, I think it’s better than the car companies actually trying to sell us cars for Christmas. And the truth of the matter is, car Christmas ads are wonderful. They’re kitchy and classy and over the top and a little of what makes Christmas Christmas. If I went out and saw a big red bow in my driveway, there would be some serious discussions to follow, but that big red bow is still an important part of the holiday nonetheless.

To me, Christmas automotive advertising will always continue to be that art form. After all, they are still managing to come up with new spoofs of classic stories, songs, and styles, and Santa hasn’t even begged off his contract to produce Mercedes year after year. The point is, Christmas advertising is even better when you’re in on the joke, when you know that these wildly expensive ads, decked in gold and green, really have nothing to do with Christmas at all. 

Because neither does buying cars. To give a spin to the clinical perspective from before, Christmas shouldn’t be about cars. It shouldn’t be about buying and it shouldn’t even be about the big red bows. Christmas should be about the family in their matching jammies and the mom/dad holding the coffee cup and smiling. And for that, you don’t need to pay a cent.