Holiday Advertising Up Despite Down Economy

Holiday shoppers will get an early start this year whether they are ready or not.  Retail giants have embarked on an advertising spending spree in an attempt to lure bargain shoppers to their stores earlier this year, signaling the economy may be on the rebound.

Target, Wal-Mart, Kmart, and Gap all plan to boost advertising spending over last year’s level in an attempt to get this seasons holiday shopping started early.  According to John Swallen, the senior vice president of research at TNS Media Intelligence, “We are seeing increases across a large number of retail advertisers. Clearly they are trying to jump-start their sales efforts.”

Already, we’ve seen the holiday season kick into gear, and retailers are trying to relate to the tough economic times.  “Frugal is the new cool,” says Bob Thacker, the senior vice president for advertising and marketing at OfficeMax  “Consumers may see as many Ebenezer Scrooges in ads this year as they see Santa Clauses.”  Kmart began their media blitz 30 to 40 days ahead of last year’s in an attempt to entice shoppers with their thrifty new slogan, “There’s Smart and there’s Kmart Smart.”

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer kicked their spending spree off during the 2009 World Series. Gap, which also operates Banana Republic and Old Navy, plans to increase advertising spending by $25 million in the third quarter and $45 million in the fourth quarter.

Marketers and different media outlets are hoping to profit from retail spending. Online giant Google posted new profits and is among those who may benefit from the retail battle.  Viacom, which owns MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, and Discovery posted profits for the third quarter.

“The market does feel more robust” said David Zaslav, Discovery’s chief executive, said on Discovery’s earnings call.  “We can’t predict where it will be in three weeks or four weeks, but it feels much stronger over the last few weeks.”

While it’s still too early to declare a recovery, industries and household alike are hoping the holiday season will spread good cheer.

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