Happy Festivus, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa, and a Good Boxing Day

Happy Festivus, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa, and a Good Boxing Day

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Today is Festivus, Wednesday is Christmas, and Thursday is both the first day of Kwanzaa as well as Boxing Day. So, I’ve decided to decorate my annual predictions about online video marketing for 2014 as if they were grievances, presents, gifts, and Christmas boxes. And don’t worry! In the spirit of this holiday season, I’ve worked overtime to ensure that everything you get from me today can be regifted.

Fruitcakes and a Festivus Miracle

Festivus was conceived by editor and author Daniel O’Keefe and was celebrated by his family as early as 1966. While O’Keefe was working on the sitcom Seinfeld, the holiday entered popular culture after it was the focus of a 1997 episode of the program.  As we’ve all learned, Festivus begins with the “Airing of Grievances”. And I’d like to start this year’s celebration by letting Megyn Kelly, a host at Fox News, know just how disappointed I am in her. Megyn recently declared on The Kelly File, “For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white.”

A few minutes later, the Fox News host cupped her hands to her mouth as if she was telling us a secret and semi-whispered: “Jesus was a white man too…I mean, he was an historical figure, that was a verifiable fact, as is Santa…I just want the kids watching to know that.”

Now, I encourage free speech and defend everyone’s right to express unpopular points of view. But, Megyn, are you a fruitcake? If you aren’t, then why would you say something that fruitcakes would say to stir up racial controversy? Well, at least we know it was Megyn who said “Santa just is white” and “Jesus was a white man too.” However, we still don’t know who made the anonymous comments on the harmless YouTube Cheerios ad that got the full racist treatment last June. The fruitcakes were aghast because “Just Checking” had the “audacity” to feature the young daughter of an interracial couple.

On Dec. 4, 2013, General Mills announced on its corporate blog that an ad for Cheerios will appear in the Super Bowl on Feb. 2, 2014. The ad for regular Cheerios represents the first time the brand has advertised in the Big Game. Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, is handling the spot. While General Mills did not comment on details, the blog post stated that the ad will be handled by the same creative team behind recent emotionally tinged ads such as the one above. Their Cheerios ad will be the first high-profile test of the new YouTube comments powered by Google+. But, General Mills will have new tools to review comments before they’re posted, block certain words or save time by auto-approving comments from certain fans. So, I predict the ad will score well with most consumers, most of the fruitcakes will be thwarted when they attempt to post racist comments, and the “controversy” will be considered a big hit for the brand. It will be a Festivus miracle.

Santa Claus and Christmas Presents

What can I tell you about Christmas that you won’t learn by watching Fox News?

  • Many popular customs associated with Christmas developed independently of the commemoration of Jesus’ birth. This includes gift giving, which had its origins in the Roman celebration of Saturnalia, an ancient festival which took place in late December.
  • There was a “war on Christmas” in the 17th Century. Protestant groups such as the Puritans strongly condemned the celebration of Christmas, considering it a Catholic invention, “a popish festival with no biblical justification”, as well as a time of wasteful and immoral behavior.
  • The name Santa Claus can be traced back to the Dutch Sinterklass, which means simply Saint Nicholas. Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, in modern-day Turkey, during the 4th century. Among other saintly attributes, he was noted for the care of children, generosity, and the giving of gifts.
  • The modern popular image of Santa Claus was created in the United States by the cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840–1902). Beginning in 1863, Nast drew a new image of “Santa Claus” annually. By the 1880s, Nast’s Santa had evolved into the robed, fur clad, form we now recognize. 

thomas nast

Today, the exchanging of gifts is one of the core aspects of the modern Christmas celebration, making it the most profitable time of year for retailers and businesses throughout the world. But, you might be surprised at which brands have learned that miracles really do happen. For example, watch “WestJet Christmas Miracle: real-time giving” to see for yourself what triggered this brand’s social video to get 31,574,333 views and 1,679,746 shares in last 30 days.

Then, watch “Apple – Holiday – TV Ad – Misunderstood” to see what triggers this brand’s social video to get 4,717,512 views and 166,320 shares in last 30 days.

So, which brand may have learned some of the more effective psychological responses and social motivations that Santa Claus and Christmas presents can trigger? This leads me to predict that more brands and agencies will visit the Unruly Social Video Lab in 2014 to learn how to elicit a stronger viewer response against at least one psychological trigger and multiple social motivations to achieve an even higher share rate.

Kwanzaa Gifts and Musical Selections

Dr. Maulana Karenga created Kwanzaa in 1966as the first specifically African-American holiday. In “WHY KWANZA By Maulana Karenga,” he says, “As an African-American and Pan-African holiday celebrated by millions throughout the world African community, Kwanzaa brings a cultural message which speaks to the best of what it means to be African and human in the fullest sense.”

Kwanzaa is observed from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving. A Kwanzaa ceremony may also include musical selections. And perhaps this year’s perfect Kwanzaa gifts and musical selections arrived unexpectedly on Dec. 13, 2013, at the iTunes store. They can be found on Beyoncé’s “Self-Titled” visual album. BEYONCÉ is a mini art feature comprised of 14 new songs and 17 news videos that give a glimpse into her mind-set and artistic vision.

A week after its surprise release, Apple announced that BEYONCÉ, the sumptuous, open-armed eponymous fifth album by Parkwood Entertainment’s president and CEO, had sold a million copies around the world. In 2014, I predict that a whole lotta R&B singers and Hip-Hop artists are going to follow Beyoncé’s lead and use Instagram, YouTube and other social media to launch their next album.

Boxing Day and Ugly Holiday Sweaters

Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts from their bosses or employers, known as a “Christmas box”. It is observed in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and some other Commonwealth nations.

I’ve been wracking my brains trying to come up with an appropriate gift for the people who’ve helped me this year by providing me with story ideas or sharing my columns via Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, or email. Saying thanks for your good service throughout the year seems in order. But some of you are colleagues in the online video and internet marketing industries, so treating you like servants and tradesmen doesn’t seem right. And some of you have become friends, so giving you a box to take home containing gifts, bonuses, and some leftover food would be wrongedy-wrong-wrong. So, let me offer you a little expert advice, guidance, and commentary about the world of online video instead.

If you ever need real help from real people in real-time, visit Helpouts by Google. It is a new way to connect with people who can give you help, over live video, anytime, anywhere. With Helpouts, you can get personalized help from teachers, counselors, home repair gurus, personal trainers, hobby enthusiasts, and more by connecting directly through a face-to-face video call. To get an idea of how it works, check out the holiday story entitled, “Helpouts by Google: ‘Kris’.”

And, for those of you who are trying to turn viewers into customers, one of my clients, SiteTuners, has assembled the perfect gift for Boxing Day. And, no, it’s not an ugly holiday sweater. It’s a free online directory of conversion rate optimization resources. They call it the Conversion Ninja Toolbox and it offers you a comprehensive list of tools, technologies, and services for website conversion optimization.

Conversion rate optimization can produce huge improvements in online marketing campaigns. The question is not whether you should do it, but rather how. Tim Ash, the author of Landing Page Optimization, and his team of experts at SiteTuners, who run the international Conversion Conference series, are in a unique position to see all parts of the conversion ecosystem and put together a comprehensive resource for other online marketers.

ConversionNinjaToolbox.com is absolutely free to access and no registration is required. The site is broken down into five categories that mirror the website development and optimization phases:

  • Create – You will find tools for wire-framing, content development, landing page development and more.
  • Diagnose – You can identify your biggest areas for improvement with tools that assess your site’s performance and usability and help understand how visitors see your site.
  • Engage – You can take your efforts to the next level with tools for abandonment recovery, personalization and interaction.
  • Test & Improve – Any site with enough traffic should be testing. You will find tools for large enterprise site testing, as well as no-cost tools available for smaller sites. Plus a list of conversion optimization experts to help you put it all together.
  • Learn – The discipline of conversion optimization is changing rapidly. You can stay on top of their game with this listing of books, resources, conferences and more. 

The Conversion Ninja Toolbox also allows visitors to rate and comment on the resources that they’ve used, and to read the reviews of others. It covers free, inexpensive, and enterprise-level tools.

To help promote the Conversion Ninja Toolbox, I turned to Janet Garcia, Chief Creative Officer and
Certified Video Specialist, Unlimited Concepts. She created an animated whiteboard video. Check it out. It’s pretty festive.

For 2014, I predict that a whole lot more of my colleagues in the online video and internet marketing industries will be using whiteboard animation for their promotional needs and asking Janet help them create awesome video scribe whiteboards and explainer videos which may even include animation.

Hopefully, these Christmas presents and Kwanzaa gifts as well as my expert advice, guidance, and commentary about the world of online video will not only enchant you, they will also enchant all of your colleagues and friends when you re-gift them this week or next year. If you aren’t enchanted, then I’m sure I’ll hear about it during the “Airing of Grievances,” which will take place immediately after the Festivus dinner has been served this evening.


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