Yesterday, I stopped at a Tim Hortons in a small town in South Western Ontario to get a coffee. I went into the store instead of using the drive through. The windows were beautifully decorated with Christmas type colours. On one window “Happy Holidays” on another “Seasons Greetings”. No mention of Christmas at all, it was as if the word had been banned. The same inside, no reference to Christmas Why? And it’s not just baby boomers noticing this.
“Seasons Greetings” does not concern me too much, those two words have been used in connection with Christmas for many years. “Happy Holidays” though is a direct insult to those of us who follow the Christian faith and respect the values and traditions that have made this country and the other formerly successful Western nations great. I am not particularly religious, certainly not a campaigning zealot. I am quite happy to live and let live, I have no problem with other religions celebrating their religious holidays.
If businesses with a significant non-Christian market choose to extend their good wishes to those customers by some public promotions, that is up to them. If individuals or businesses choose to ignore Christmas altogether, either as a rebellion against the commercialisation of a holy day or because they are not religious, that is their right and I respect that. But to subvert Christmas as is being increasingly done each year to try to appear politically correct is commercial prostitution.
My belief is that the vast majority of immigrants to Canada specifically and Western democracies in general, choose these countries because conditions and opportunities are infinitely better than in the countries they are leaving. If they wanted to live in states that banned Christmas, allowed other religions to dictate policy, or condoned mistreatment of women – just as a few examples, they would either stay where they were or move to countries more to their liking.
Why then are our countries so caught up in political correctness and attempts to appease minorities and so readily prepared to discard hundreds of years of traditions and customs that are essential parts of the fabric of our societies? Why are we voluntarily abandoning the very values that led to the formation of our (North American) countries and enabled us to become some of the most successful nations on the planet?
More liberal readers may think that I am on another right-wing rant, I assure you I am not. Going back to the Tim Hortons in question, I made my concerns known to the very friendly and efficient person who served me, not only did she agree with me, but she said that there had already been several other similar complaints, she also assured me that she would pass on my complaint to the owners of the franchise. I did not stop at any other branches yesterday, the only other one I passed close to appeared to have also banned Christmas from the window decorations, but I cannot comment on what was displayed inside.
I have emailed Tim Hortons expressing my concerns but have not yet received a reply.
What has this to do with marketing? I believe everything. It is an accepted fact that both as individuals and marketers, we cannot please all the people all the time. There will always be individuals and groups that have different views, don’t like our products or just have no need for our services. That is life. But the purpose of marketing is not to be politically correct, it is to continually find new customers while keeping existing customers happy, contented and buying more from us. As much as I like Tim Hortons coffee, their friendly and efficient staff, clean stores, convenient locations, by one simple act, they have destroyed the warm and trusting feeling I had for them.
As a matter of principle, I will seek out coffee houses that do recognise Christmas, and then support them for the rest of the year. If the owners of that particular store had in some way indicated that banning Christmas was as a result of a decree from head office which they were obliged to obey, I would have left still unhappy, but feeling better about that store and probably continued to buy from them.
This is a perfect hook for a zealous religious group to hang a cause on, an ideal opportunity to start a social media campaign vilifying Tim Hortons. I certainly do not have the time or inclination for it and I am not that vindictive. But it is a wonderful example of how easily brands can upset a large segment of their market and expose themselves to a negative social media campaign. It is a reminder that we need to be very careful about jumping on the “political correctness” bandwagon. We can so easily drive more customers away than we are likely to attract.
You do not need to worry about political correctness or alienating customers if you start using your writing skills to create a second income. Don’t know how to start? Then Check out what Bob Bly has to offer in this selection of eBooks from his CTC Publishing. (Affiliate link – if you buy, I get a commission)
Wishing you success with all your endeavours.