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  • Writer's pictureAriana Bhargava

Inclusivity around Christmas

Christmas, a traditionally Christian holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, is celebrated worldwide both religiously and secularly. In fact, according to Statista, 85% of Americans celebrate Christmas as of 2023 while Pew Research Center reports only 63% of Christian identifying Americans as of 2022. The holiday is also celebrated in a multitude of ways by people from all different cultures. When thinking of branding during the Christmas season, incorporating what Christmas might look like to people of different backgrounds can greatly expand a brand’s audience and appeal to so many more people.

So how are people celebrating Christmas?

Last year, NBC News highlighted how some South Asians in America are celebrating Christmas by blending “traditional” Christmas rituals with their own cultural twists such as celebrating Christmas Day at local gurdwaras, making gingerbread mosques, playing “Khadija on a shelf,” decorating “Eid trees,” and more. Love to Know also published an article showcasing how some indigenous Americans blend customs such as anticipating gifts from the fantastical “handsome fellow,” decorating manger scenes complete with indigenous figures, celebrating winter solstice, conducting Christmas tribal dances and powwows, and more. There are also countless guides on POC holiday movies, books, and gifts.

Turning to TikTok can also provide insight into how people are celebrating. Creator Sahara, highlights all the black Santa Claus products at her local Target.  Creators Poonam Shah and Jodi show off what their cultural Christmas meals look like. Social media continues to be a great way to get a peek into the celebrations of many.

Swiggy, an online food delivery service based in Bangalore, India emphasizes their diverse delivery staff in this heartwarming advertisement with the hashtag #reallifesantas and lines like “not all Santas are men,” starring a seemingly single mother which relate the company’s services to a popular holiday figure, showcase the brand’s values, and give the audience a “behind the scenes” feel to the service advertised. This advertisement also exemplifies thoughtful casting and portrayed rituals with a clear goal in mind.

A brand example to turn to is Black Santa, an online store dedicated to selling diverse and inclusive holiday products which they are currently expanding. Though this is a brand and not a campaign, their success can easily be applied to inclusive holiday advertising or seasonal product lines or launches. Here’s some ways they’re taking seasonal Christmas marketing to the next level:

Events: To help build hype, Black Santa holds special pop-up events such as block parties and live streams where people can learn more about their mission, take pictures with their Black Santa mascot, and celebrate the holiday season. Basing products off a holiday and figure traditionally associated with whiteness is daunting, but hosting events brings representation straight to people and builds a huge sense of community around a brand. Especially for those with growing online businesses, this is a great way to further connect with a brand’s audience and showcase their values.

Media and Press: Additionally, the brand founders hop on podcasts, take interviews, and collaborate with other brands and organizations which is all featured on their own website. For products so seasonal, it’s important to plan ahead and utilize any media or press possible during the critical months of October-December. Of course, this requires networking and an established brand, but these appearances allow them to talk more about the messaging of the brand, why what they’re doing is important, and simply get more publicity and exposure during such an important time. They also create their own Christmas cartoon content in collaboration with UWish, a super creative and in-house way to extend an audience, showcase what representation can do, and get people excited.

Expansion: The brand is also taking what they’ve learned from their successful character product and using their momentum to create more inclusive and diverse characters and expand their catalog of products. Seeing success in inclusive holiday marketing and growing one’s audience through it can catapult brands into easily-expandable products and a reputation to be proud of.

Paying attention to a few simple details and employing some key strategies to Christmas marketing to make it more inclusive can help both expand and create meaningful connections with a brand’s audience and bring a hopeful wave of new consumers come December 25.

Drawing from our Thanksgiving Branding blog post, here are some things to pay attention to when trying to create inclusive advertising during Christmas.

Casting: When trying to portray a family or group of a certain culture, make sure the actors cast are all actually part of that culture, as it will allow for viewers to feel more represented.

Food: When portraying Christmas, try and include different kinds of foods that may not be seen as “traditional Christmas food.” Food is absolutely critical to not only Christmas, but most families and cultures. Holiday meals look different to every family and might be something worth researching and spending time on.

Language: Highlighting other languages is another tool to create a more inclusive and accurate portrayal of what Christmas is like for people of color.

Family dynamics and traditions: Though no family has the same dynamic, regardless of cultural background, the way Christmas is often portrayed —traditional Christmas tree, stockings, wine, Santa, ham, saying grace, etc.— may not be the same for everyone. Showcasing aspects specific to a culture or spending time on details can really make a difference to viewers such as families who don’t drink alcohol or families who pray at the table differently. Being meticulous allows for further representation and more authentic branding.

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