Another Take on the “Holiday” Hot Potato

A couple of weeks ago, Jen weighed in on the controversy around the new GAP holiday advertising, casting her Yea! in favor of its inclusive language. Today, I saw a new seasonal spot for Bloomingdale’s and I’d like to give them a shout out too.

Their line is “Happy, Merry, Peace, Love” which I love because it doesn’t default to the bland and to me, pretty meaningless Happy Holiday. Lately, even long weekends seem to merit, “Have a great holiday” draining the juice out of the word for good.

While calling out Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanza leaves folks out, I have to admit that every time I say “Happy Holiday”, I am telling a Half Truth. To me, the phrase excludes and erases any relevance for a time of year that means lots to lots of us, even it means nothing to some. With Bloomie’s clever and crowd-pleasing line, anyone can fill in their own blanks and find their own meaning. And if nothing else, on the day of awarding the Nobel Peace Prize, it’s hard to argue with “peace” and “love.”

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GAP Got the Holidays!

Watch GAP’s Holiday Ad

This post comes with a disclaimer.  I am Jewish. I’m not particularly religious but I am culturally observant (and that doesn’t just mean I get to tell the jokes, eat the food and use Yiddish words). The December holiday season has always been a bit of a sore spot for me because I have always felt left out of the big party.  Everything is red and green and decorated so beautifully and the parties and family gatherings are so wonderful but I’ve always been on the outside looking in.  Hanukah is lovely too but it isn’t a big deal on the spectrum of Jewish holidays. I know that there is the whole 8 nights of presents thing but as a kid my parents gave me things like pencils on 6 out of 8 of them.  (I actually went to Michael’s Craft Store this weekend looking for Hanukah decorations to get my kids excited and there was one measly end cap with plastic junk.)

But this holiday GAP’s new advertising made me feel like I was part of Holiday Fever.  I loves the new ads because they shook off some of the recession depression and also because their Cheer campaign actually said the word Hanukah! It was sad to hear that the American Family Association isn’t such a big fan of inclusion and called for a boycott (since put on hold) of GAP because the work didn’t emphasize Christmas enough for their liking.  [They put the boycott on the back burner because there is an Old Navy spot in the pipeline that says Christmas enough.]

“As a gesture of our ‘goodwill to men,’ we have decided to suspend our boycott of Gap and its divisions until we see the content of this new commercial,” said Bryan Fischer, the AFA’s director of issues analysis, in a statement. “We firmly believe that Gap is responding to an enormous amount of pressure from the AFA network. It looks like Gap has finally decided that a recession is a bad time to take a principled stand on secularism and alienate a huge percentage of their customer base. We’re happy that they’re apparently keeping Christ and Christmas in the Christmas season.”

My condolences to Crispin Porter + Bogusky who made some really great and inclusive ads only to be punished for the same reason.

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May 23, 2024
by Mary Lou Quinlan

A look at an early production of WORK


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The God Box Goes Global!

“The God Box” has grown to include an app, audio book, philanthropic venture and solo show performed by Mary Lou across the US. Now The God Box Project goes global to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
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