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On Spam, Christmas and 'Holiday' Stupidity


By Ken Magill

There are two things we can always count on the consumer press for this time of year: stories about people drowning in a sea of “holiday” spam and an inability to refer to the holiday driving the vast majority of fourth-quarter sales by its actual name: Christmas.

The spam stories have already begun to appear.

“Far from the most wonderful time of year for online shoppers, it can also be most aggravating because of junk or spam email,” led a story appearing on several NBC-affiliated websites.

"’Spam is increasing exponentially, and I don't see it stopping for a little bit more,’ says business writer Mike Michalowicz,” the story continued.

No, spam is not growing “exponentially.” According to online security firm Kaspersky, the percentage of spam in total email traffic during the third quarter of 2013 was 68.3 percent, down 2.4 percent from the second quarter.

But it appears the NBC piece isn’t even referring to actual spam.

According to the article, Michalowicz “also found that reputable companies that send spam will actually stop when you click the ‘unsubscribe’ link at the bottom of the email.”

That statement should have read: Michalowicz also found that reputable companies that send email you probably signed up for will stop when you click the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the email.

There. Fixed. Amazing: Companies abiding by the law. Who would think such a thing was possible?

In any case, now is an appropriate time to reiterate a vow I made to readers of my old newsletter, Magilla Marketing, four years ago and have made every year since.

In fall of 2009, I vowed to ban the phrase “holiday shopping” from Magilla Marketing. This week, I am repeating that vow for the Magill Report.

Why avoid such a seemingly innocuous term? Because “holiday shopping” is a politically correct cancer attempting to imply that a wide range of “holidays” drives fourth-quarter retailing. That we’ve let this piece of idiocy so infect our national discussion on retail sales is pathetic.

There is one holiday overwhelmingly driving fourth-quarter shopping: It’s Christmas. Without Christmas, there would be no November and December surge in retail sales.

Also, calling it “Christmas shopping” is neither endorsing Christmas nor Christianity. It’s simply labeling the cause of a yearly spike in retail sales accurately.

Last year, I decided to wipe the word “holiday” from my verbal vocabulary, as well, and began wishing retail clerks and cashiers “merry Christmas.” Some were clearly startled at even hearing the phrase. Please tell me this is a New York/Northeastern and maybe California thing, and would not be the case in, say, Ohio or Nebraska.

Merry Christmas, everybody.


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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Ken Magill
Date: 2013-12-17 16:32:27
Subject: Happy Hanukkah

Sherry! Good to hear from you. It's not about wishing anybody a happy anything. It's about reporting events accurately. Christ's opinion is irrelevant. No matter what anyone thinks about it, it's not holiday shopping. It's Christmas shopping. Calling something something it's not isn't being inclusive. It's being silly. Happy Hannukah to you, too!
Posted by: Sherry Chiger
Date: 2013-12-11 16:08:11
Subject: Happy Hanukkah

... I'm assuming you wouldn't take offense at being wished that, just as I don't care if you wish me a merry Christmas even though I don't celebrate it. (Though I do prefer "happy holidays"--what's wrong with being inclusive? And would Christ really want to be associated with the crass commercialism that seems to have become the meaning of the season?)
Posted by: Tim Roe
Date: 2013-12-03 18:22:00
Subject: Merry Christmas Ken

Posted by: Michelle Blake
Date: 2013-12-03 16:33:40

Amen - agree!