or: How Media Markt managed to destroy even the slightest illusion of the fest of love
When I was little, Christmas was the best and the worst time of the year. The best time because there were holidays, there was usually snow and we would get presents; the worst time because we would get presents. My mother in particular had to suffer from us kids eating too many sweets and cookies and freaking out because the pressure would pile up throughout the whole of December. Seeing as she was the mother to four children who were all born within three years, there were countless quarrels and brawls and as far as I remember there was not a single year when she did not threaten that there would be no presents at all because of our misbehavior.
As we grew older, presents became less important and a sense of what the fest of love really meant occurred. Now that we are all adults and have all discovered other joys that life can offer, Christmas is still a special time of the year. Maybe even the best, period. The year ends, which gets you thinking about what has happened over the past year. Since I moved out three years ago it is also the time when I am truly home for a longer period, when usually none of my siblings or my parents has to work, when we cuddle up at home under thick blankets, accompanied by books and candles. Of course this might not be what Christmas means to all of us. For many it might be a time of stress, of more work than usual, of quarrels because the family is somehow forced to get together, or even of loneliness. Maybe I live in a fantasy.
If I do, this fantasy was harshly destroyed a few days ago. I had noticed the new advertisement campaign by Media Markt before, but I had not been sure whether I had understood it correctly. However, the tube stations are now full of the big posters claiming that Christmas is decided underneath the Christmas tree, and misunderstanding is not possible any more.
The company – which claims its customers are not stupid – has decided to go further than other companies ever did before: Why claim that the purpose of Christmas is anything but to buy, buy, buy? Whereas in other advertisements, Santa, reindeer or a happy family are smiling down on us, or the advertisements make use of special offers, this company presents grateful children who got a new Wiii instead of toy trains. The radio advertisement even goes as far as making these children shout “Eisenbahn – du kannst nach Hause fahr’n!” at their father.
It is questionable whether toy trains or a Wii is a better present for a child; not only does this put extra pressure on the parents of today’s Multi-Media-kids when it comes to deciding what to give them as a present for Christmas, it also raises the expectations of these children. As they are still easy to impress (until they are five, children are not able to tell whether they are watching advertisements or a movie on TV) this advertisement suggests that it is normal to get a €200-present. If my siblings and I had expected that, my parents would have spent at least €800 for our Christmas presents to please our expectations and “decide” our Christmas. Does this mean that it is necessary to pile up debts to have a happy Christmas? Or does it mean that Media Markt is the greatest company ever because it offers you to pay the debts within one year, still in time for next year’s Christmas and next year’s expensive presents.
Whatever it means to you, 15 years ago it would have meant another ‘worst time of the year’ and another threat that Christmas would not happen at all. Would my Christmas today still be the best time of the year if I had been impressed by advertisements as these? Maybe I should ask my mother.