There can be very few professions where the complaint of one too many mince pies is shared amongst peers before the school summer holidays have even kicked off, but with a plethora of Christmas in July events that have just passed, those elastic pants were indeed in danger of being liberated from the Boxing Day box in the garage.
Originating almost a decade ago by some bright young thing in the toy trade, these events quickly became blanket, and in a couple of seasons each and every brand/retailer/corner shop collective had an event to show their Christmas fare to the press.
This, of course, aims at longer lead and thus ensuring their must have item had every chance to make it into those biblical gift guides of the fat magazines.
Today it just isn’t relevant, or necessary, for everyone to try and tempt us over to their hired space, decorated with varying amounts of tinsel, offering all manner of refreshments from the simple snack to the quite elaborate five-course meal and far too much seasonal imbibement than should be made available to a scribe midday on a school day.
For the FMCGs I get it. They can gather editorial from tech and consumer to food and lifestyle, kids and parenting press, national news and features journalists who just happen to be around at the time.
In fact, with every aspect of Xmas on offer, these elaborate mini-Christmases are must visits.
There are many highlights to attendance. I’ll usually see perhaps a toy or two I’ve not encountered from earlier on in the year which usually makes me squeal inappropriately with excitement, much to the consternation of a food journo from a high brow title who has no idea what I do.
Randomly bumping into folk you’ve not seen since the last unseasonal seasonal gathering is always great.
Comparing goodie bags, complaining of distances between these events, seeing others you don’t know walking the opposite way in central London and eyeing each others gotten gains and, at the end of a multiple event day, looking back at what you’ve seen and how much content you have for the coming months: most satisfying indeed.
It is, however, pointless to attempt anything less than the multiples can lay on.
Times, they are a changing, so to get under my nose you’ll need to try to be a part of a major retailer’s event by offering something stand out for them to add value to their offering and outshine their competition, or do something different. And that is really tough.
We put together a digital Xmas event this year (#digitalxij) and delivered our showcase video to 50 journalists whom a few we know were pleased to receive free stuff at their desk and get content delivered.
Our Bermuda shorted Santa certainly stood out but then again so did a Xmas in July offering that made our target audience feel like they’d attended a five star stand-out dinner with all the trimmings rather than attended a few events and left with that Yuletide feeling of being dragged around a few relatives houses which you couldn’t wait to leave.
Toyologist Pete Jenkinson regularly writes about toys in national newspapers like The Sun and The Mail. This super-dad has an unmatched passion and dedication for trying and testing the latest, coolest and most interesting offerings from the world of toys.