When we’ve just finished wiping up the fake blood that we put on the edge of his lips, icing on the cake of our vampire disguise for Halloweenthe TV has already gone to the next step: Christmas. With blows of TV movies that smell of warm brownsequins on advertising banners and synthetic snow on the desks of TV game presenters, the television channels constantly remind us to order, gifts, chocolates and stuffed turkeys, it’s coming soon!
After the launch of Christmas TV movies on TF1 on October 24, 2022, Gulli is preparing to launch Christmas, the favorite holiday of the French presented by Camille Cerfresponding in turn to the call of Mariah Carey – the undisputed queen of the season – with a first episode of this weekly show entitled: Trees, balls and garlands: let Christmas begin!. This kind of programs should accumulate in the television schedules in the weeks to come, like gifts at the foot of the tree that we haven’t even taken out of the attic yet.
But then why, in addition to chocolates and other end-of-year dishes on store shelves, is television so keen to remind us that the countdown has started before Christmas? This strategy responds to a triple logic between festive myth, ritual and fertile commercial ground…
“The promise of a happy and festive holiday”
“Viewers ask us for Christmas TV movies every year,” says Sophie Leveaux, artistic director of acquisitions for TF1, who oversees the programming of Christmas movies broadcast every day on the Bouygues group channel. She believes that this content, which mobilizes a team almost a year in advance, “brings together a lot”, just like the winter versions of programs on the usual schedule. We are now accustomed to observing the moult of Twelve strokes of noon to Twelve Knocks of Christmas or to see the characters of tomorrow belongs to us celebrate Christmas on the One. “It helps to tell stories that cover the atmosphere of Christmas, its music, its mood…”
The relationship between Gulli and Christmas is “a great love story”, underlines Coralie Boitrelle Laigle, director of the youth antennas of the M6 group which is preparing to open the holiday season. According to her, two highlights structure the lives of children: “Christmas and their birthdays, so we have to be present at Christmas for the children as well as for their parents”, she explains.
For the youth channel as for all the channels of the M6 group, it is important to surf the news. So when it comes to reminding viewers that Christmas is coming, we don’t hesitate to pull out the heavy artillery. “In addition to the Camille Cerf program which dissects the consumer side of this celebration, we are going to have a pastry competition entitled Les toqués de Noël, details Coralie Boitrelle Laigle. We will also have Wrap battle, a competition for the most beautiful packaging. And from December 1st, the site, the social networks of all the youth channels of the M6 group will be put in a coordinated way in the colors of Christmas! »
Enough to interfere with Christmas as we would push the back of a comrade’s head into his dish of mashed potatoes in the canteen. But the end of the year is not the only key moment on the small screen. “The television schedule is divided very precisely with, for each period, its atmosphere”, explains Julie Escurignan, teacher-researcher in creative and cultural industry at EMLV. After summer, September is dedicated to the start of the school year before giving way to Halloween from October 1 to 31. The transition to November 1 then officially marks the beginning of the end-of-year celebrations. “By creating this recurrence from one year to the next, we create public expectations which also contribute to the success of this type of programme. »
Western society makes Christmas an important time. “Television interferes in a whole series of rituals. So we watch a Christmas program or TV movie the same way we light the tree, candles or listen to Mariah Carey, ”points out Maureen Lepers, researcher who works on the political and socio-cultural issues of media representations.
“Preparing the commercial ground”
TF1’s TV movies “structure audiences from the afternoon to access,” says the channel’s artistic director of acquisitions. She recalls that “all brands and merchants are surfing this period”, especially with Christmas catalogs or Advent calendars. “We don’t know who is training who, but there is always a match…” On the M6 side, Coralie Boitrelle Laigle confirms that all these programs contribute to “the ambient desire to put yourself under a blanket with a hot chocolate”.
The arrival of snowflakes and other candy canes on our screens are all reminders of reality: the tree to decorate, the winter clothes to put on and (especially) the gifts to buy. “Christmas is part of a major consumer movement and television sends signals to viewers through its programs,” adds Maureen Lepers. She believes that Christmas programs, and mainly TV movies, are built around particular ideological values such as work, homeland, the couple. “We don’t deconstruct anything, we just put a bit of glitter to attract a domestic audience, often mothers or grandmothers, and put them in front of the pubs for gifts. Challenging the system in the content of these programs could potentially offend business logic, and turn off a revenue tap for the channels.
Because the period is particularly prosperous in terms of advertising revenue for television channels. Brands know that the period is conducive to purchases and are less reluctant to spend large sums to sell what could find its place under the tree. All the more reason to try television to put the package on this period. “These programs prepare the ground… From a purely commercial point of view, it’s perfect, judge Julien Escurignan. It works exactly on the same principle as when you put ads for food during the Koh-Lanta ad. »